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Roucou Oil Vs Argan Oil

In addition to a comparison of roucou oil vs argan oil for hair, this article also breaks down some awesome roucou oil recipes for hair.

Roucou oil is one of those oils you don’t hear much about but it is very good for the hair and skin. 

Roucou oil features prominently in Davines’ OI All in One Milk, Davines’ OI Oil, OI Shampoo, and OI conditioner.

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Simple Roucou oil recipes for hair

What is Roucou Oil?

Roucou oil is an exotic oil made from the seeds of the Achiote plant. Achiote is aka Annatto, Urucum, and the lipstick tree because of its rich vibrant color.

The Achiote plant is grown in Latin America and has colorful flowers and seeds. Externally, the pod almost resembles castor plant pods.

The red seeds from the plant are usually ground into a powder or paste and used as a condiment. 

The taste and smell of roucou oil are described as mildly peppery and sweet. It’s a great alternative to synthetic food coloring and can be used for coloring soups and cheeses.

Below is a block of Colby cheese that was colored with achiote annatto:-

Colby cheese colored with annatto

Image credit

Achiote annatto is also a suitable replacement for expensive saffron. Calendula flowers can be used as a replacement for saffron as well. 

Achiote is also used as a hair dye and body paint in various parts of Latin America. I will look into using it as a hair dye and share my results later on.

It is used for brewing tea and in some areas, used medicinally for treating various ailments such as skin issues and fever.

Roucou oil is obtained by cold pressing the seeds of the plant. It is a source of carotenoid pigments such as bixin and norbixin.

What is Roucou Oil Used For?

1. Protects Hair and Skin

Roucou oil contains sunscreen properties and photoprotective agents, which protect the skin and hair from sun damage.

2. Contains Astringent Properties

Additionally, roucou oil has astringent properties. This makes it an ideal treatment for dry scalp, dandruff, eczema, and excessively oily scalps.

I share an awesome roucou oil hair oil below, which would work great as a pre-poo. Roucou oil can also be used on the skin. More on this in a later article. 

3. Antioxidant Content

Roucou oil is a great antioxidant as its rich in carotenoids, which help fight free radical damage.

Where to Buy Rocou Oil?

Roucou oil is a bit of a nightmare to track down so I recommend using the liquid extract instead or you can make your own roucou oil with annatto seeds (recipe below).

For the extract, you can use Herbal Terra Annatto Liquid Extract or Hawaii Pharm Annatto Liquid Extract.

Hawaii Pharm Annatto Liquid Extract

Hawaii Pharm Annatto Liquid Extract

Herbal Terra Annatto Liquid Extract

Herbal Terra Annatto Liquid Extract

Roucou Oil Recipes for Hair

Roucou Oil Pre-Poo Recipe



  • In a small bowl, add the coconut oil, jojoba oil, and argan oil and mix then add the annatto liquid extract.
  • Place the bowl over a bigger bowl of boiling water and warm up the oil.
  • Section your hair and wet slightly then apply the mix to your hair with a focus on the scalp. Massage it into your scalp thoroughly until absorbed.
  • Twist and pin up the sections then cover your head with a disposable cap and leave it overnight. If there’s no chance to leave it overnight, wrap a hot towel around your head and wait until it cools down.
  • Shampoo hair the next morning with diluted mild shampoo and deep condition.
  • This pre-poo oil is very good for hair and especially the scalp.

Roucou Oil Scalp Massage Oil



  • Open the 4 oz bottle and pour in all the ingredients then shake thoroughly.
  • Apply directly to the scalp 2 – 3 times a week and massage in until absorbed.
  • You don’t need to wash it out the next morning. You can shampoo your hair on the weekend but use a gentle sulfate-free shampoo or black soap.

Roucou Oil Vs Argan Oil

There are suggestions that roucou oil is better than argan oil for hair. However, this comparison shouldn’t come into play because they achieve different things.

Roucou oil is more of an astringent and provides sun protection while argan oil is for hair breakage and preventing split ends.

You can use these oils to complement each other by using both of them in a recipe.

How to Make Roucou Oil


  • 3 tablespoons of Annatto seeds. You can buy annatto seeds HERE
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower oil. You can also use coconut oil, olive oil, or safflower oil
  • 8 oz bottle

The Spice Lab Whole Annatto Seeds

The Spice Lab Whole Annatto Seeds


  • Pour your oil of choice into a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil.
  • Add in the annatto seeds and stir.
  • Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the stove and set aside to cool.
  • Once cool, strain the oil into the 4 oz bottle and discard the seeds. The roucou oil will be a rich orange color.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil and 7 – 10 drops of lavender essential oil to elongate the shelf life.
  • Use as per recipes shared above.

As the carrier oil used to create the roucou oil has a long shelf life, this recipe should last for up to a year.

However, if it smells funny anytime before that, you can discard it and make a fresh batch.

Roucou Oil Side Effects

Roucou oil doesn’t have any known serious side effects but as always, if you are pregnant or nursing, you should engage caution when adding any new hair or beauty products to your regimen. 

Other Oils for Scalp Issues

Check out other natural oils recommended for scalp issues below including simple DIY recipes for common scalp problems.

Roucou Oil Beauty Products

Pin it for Later – How To Make Roucou Oil for Hair & Skin

How to make roucou oil for hair and skin


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