Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil*
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is found throughout the tropic and subtropic area. Coconut is known for its great versatility as seen in the many uses of its different parts. The coconut oil is widely used in soaps and cosmetics. Coconuts are used in the beauty industry in moisturizers and body butters because coconut oil, due to its chemical structure, is readily absorbed by the skin. The coconut shell may also be ground down and added to products for exfoliation of dead skin. Coconut is also a source of lauric acid, which can be processed in a particular way to produce sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent used in shower gels and shampoos. The nature of lauric acid as a fatty acid makes it particularly effective for creating detergents and surfactants.