The quick-absorbing formula and refreshing (nutty and floral) fragrance of marula oil make it suitable for use in several hair and skin treatments. This natural oil is extracted from the kernels or outer husk of marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) nuts native to the Southern African region (1).
The health benefits of marula oil are due to its antioxidant, emollient, moisturizing, and anti-aging properties. It has been in use for centuries.
Apart from the husks and kernels of the marula tree, several other parts have been used in folk medicine to help treat many health conditions (2).
The use of marula oil may help treat acne, fight the signs of premature aging, reduce patches and scars, prevent stretch marks, treat brittle nails, and give you healthy hair.
This article explores marula oil’s benefits for skin and hair, how to use it, and its potential adverse effects. Keep reading!
What Is Marula Oil?
Marula oil is a light yellow oil that is known for its fast-absorbing and lightweight properties. It is also used as an ingredient in many beauty products such as soaps and perfumes. Additionally, it is used as a meat preservative, cooking oil, and massage oil, and to treat leather.
Marula oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols, and amino acids (2). Therefore, it is said to offer many benefits for skin, hair, and health.
Find out more about these benefits in the next section.
What Are The Benefits Of Marula Oil?
1. Marula Oil For Face
Marula oil may act as an effective moisturizer for dry or aging skin because it gets absorbed quickly. It is said to be beneficial for treating acne, smoothening and softening fine lines, and preventing stretch marks.
- May Fight Acne
The non-greasy property of marula oil may help in treating different types of acne and act as a good moisturizer for oily skin. It also possesses antimicrobial properties (2). Thus, it may be effective against the bacteria that contribute to the formation of pimples and blackheads.
Marula oil also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties (2). Therefore, it may help reduce the inflammation, redness, itching, and dryness associated with acne. However, there is limited research available on the effect of marula oil on acne.
- Fights The Signs Of Aging
Marula oil has the natural ability to battle the different signs of aging. It helps in preventing and treating the damage that is caused by skin aging (3).
Enzymes like elastase and collagenase accelerate the signs of aging. Marula oil prevents your skin from losing its elasticity by inhibiting the activity of these (3). Therefore, it may help fight the signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, and dullness. It may also boost the natural ability of your skin to regenerate and repair itself.
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- May Smoothen Skin
Marula oil can penetrate deep into the skin, even in the areas where it is the thickest. The fatty acids and polyphenols in it improve the elasticity of your skin with a regular application (3). Thus, it may help in enhancing your skin’s firmness to make it smoother.
There is also some scientific evidence that marula oil (in combination with other ingredients) may help in the treatment of wounds and scars and in the prevention of the formation of scars (3). Therefore, it has the potential to give you flawlessly smooth skin.
- May Protect Against Environmental Damage
Marula oil may protect your skin against the damaging effects of environmental elements like the harsh rays of the sun, cold wind, and pollution. While you sleep, it is said to aid the natural renewal process of the skin to reverse the damage. It also fortifies the skin from within with a blend of moisturizing and nourishing nutrients (4).
2. May Prevent Stretch Marks
As mentioned earlier, marula oil has beneficial nutrients that help retain the skin’s elasticity and suppleness (3). Applying it twice a day may help in keeping away the hyperpigmentation and stretch marks that many women often develop. However, limited research is available to prove this claim.
3. May Prevent And Treat Skin Conditions
Marula oil has a high content of linoleic (an omega-6 essential fatty acid) and oleic acid. Thus, it has a moisturizing and hydrating effect on the skin (4). This means it could help in preventing and healing a variety of skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. However, there is no direct evidence to prove the same.
4. May Suit All Skin Types
Oleic acid is a great component for skin repair (5). The abundance of oleic acid in marula oil is said to make it suitable for all skin types. It is super absorbent and does not clog up the skin’s pores. Apart from dry, oily, and normal skin types, it is also claimed to be suitable for sensitive skin. Men can use it to soften their rough skin as it is very moisturizing (4).
5. May Keep Your Hair and Scalp Healthy
Marula oil is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and fatty acids (2). It also has cellular regeneration, hydrating, occlusive, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties (2), (4). Thus, it may play a role in keeping the scalp healthy and boosting healthy hair growth. Marula oil may help nourish your hair from root to tip without making it overly greasy, making it beneficial for dry, frizzy, or brittle hair. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove the same.
6. May Treats Brittle Nails
Marula oil possesses moisturizing and nourishing properties that may help in treating damaged or brittle nails (6). Also, it may help reduce the incidence of painful and cracked skin around the nails. Applying this oil regularly on your hands can keep them soft.
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7. May Heal Chapped Lips
Marula oil is also well-known for its ability to heal dry and chapped skin (4). It can penetrate the skin on your lips to treat dryness from within. By using this beneficial oil, you can have soft, pink lips that never crack or bleed. Instead of using lip balms and other lip products that do not really help, use marula oil to heal chapped lips.
After reading about these promising benefits of marula oil, you must be wondering how to use it. Check out the next section to know more.
How Do You Use Marula Oil On Your Face?
- Facial Moisturizer
Marula oil can be used as a daytime and nighttime moisturizer, irrespective of your skin type. Pout a few drops of cold-pressed pure marula oil on your fingers and apply it on your face. Don’t rub it on your face harshly. It can be used before applying makeup because it gets absorbed quickly.
- Body Lotion
Marula oil, with its oxidative stability property, is an ideal ingredient for many cosmetic formulas such as skin lotions, scalp conditioners, and eyeshadows. It can be used as an overall body lotion. Try applying it after bathing for better results.
There are a couple of ways that marula oil is used to improve your hair health. Check them out in the next section.
How Do You Apply Marula Oil To Hair?
There is no scientific evidence that proves marula oil can treat your hair problems. But, anecdotal evidence suggests that this oil may help in treating hair-related issues. The antimicrobial activity of the marula oil may fight bacteria to treat scalp issues. Marula oil can be applied in the form of shampoo or hair conditioner to your hair.
Note: If you want to use marula oil as a part of your hair care routine, you will need to consider the texture and density of your hair.
- Marula oil can be used to treat dry, damaged, and fragile hair (3). Many hair care products, especially shampoos, contain marula oil. Add a few drops of cold-pressed pure marula oil to your shampoo to reap its benefits.
- Hair Conditioner
There are may hair conditioners that contain marula oil. Rub a few drops of marula oil into the ends of your hair to help eliminate split ends and dryness. It also works well on dry and irritated scalps.
Try applying a few drops of marula oil to your hair prior to heat styling to use it as a heat protectant.
Here are some more things about marula oil that you may find interesting.
More Info About Marula Oil
According to historical sources, the marula tree played a major role for nearly 10,000 years. It is also known as the “marriage tree” and was believed to symbolize purity and fertility. That is why it was used in purifying rituals before a wedding.
The marula nut was also referred to as the food of kings, and it is from this nut that the revered “miracle oil” (i.e., marula oil) continues to be cold-pressed.
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Before you start using marula oil on your skin and hair, check out the safety precautions you need to keep in mind.
There are no specific and scientifically proven risks associated with marula oil yet. But, people who are already allergic to nuts may be allergic to marula oil.
A patch test is recommended before using marula oil. Here’s what you need to do:
- Apply 3 or 4 drops of marula oil on your inner forearm.
- Wait for 24 hours.
- If there is no sign of hives, redness, or irritation, you can use marula oil on other parts of your body.
- Avoid contact with eyes and stop using it in case of irritation.
Though marula oil is generally safe for consumption, it does have a few side effects that you need to keep in mind. Check them out in the following section.
Potential Side Effects Of Marula Oil
Excess usage of marula oil may cause some adverse effects like low blood pressure, skin irritation, itching, redness, and gastrointestinal problems. However, there is limited research on the side effects of marula oil.
People who are taking medication for certain health issues, people who are at a greater risk of heart disease and strokes, patients who are about to undergo major surgery, and people with atherosclerosis are advised to consult their healthcare professionals before using marula oil.
- May Lower Blood Pressure
Oleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid that is found in abundance in marula oil. When combined with blood pressure-lowering medications, it may lower your blood pressure too much. So, consult your doctor before using this oil to avoid its adverse effects.
- May Cause Skin Inflammation
Excess usage of marula oil may lead to an allergic reaction. People with highly sensitive skin may experience inflammation, redness, and itching. Avoid using this oil in case you have any allergies.
- May Cause Stomach Issues
Marula oil is better known for its usage as an ingredient in beauty products than as cooking oil. It is only used in some African countries for cooking. If you are new to using marula oil as cooking oil, you may experience stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, or indigestion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is marula oil better than argan oil?
It all depends on your skin type. Marula oil is rich in vitamin C and helps treat dry skin, whereas argan oil is rich in vitamin A and helps regulate sebum production.
Is marula oil good for nails?
The moisturizing and emollient properties of marula oil may help in treating dry cuticles and nails. Rub marula oil into your cuticles after removing nail polish and let it dry. You can also use it at night to your nail beds.
Can you put marula oil under your eyes?
Using marula oil under the eyes is safe. Apply the oil by delicately dabbing it into your skin with your ring finger. However, be careful not to get marula oil into your eyes as it may cause irritation and burning.