The recent appearance of marula oil on the skincare scene proves that enthusiasm for oils shows no signs of slowing down. Argan oil has reigned supreme in this wave of enthusiasm, showing up on its own or as an ingredient in moisturizers, anti-aging treatments, and hair products. But now there’s a new kid in town — marula oil. And it appears to be giving all the other trendy oils a run for their money.
Originating in Africa, marula oil is loaded with antioxidants and fatty acids that promise to keep skin — and hair — moisturized, smooth, and protected from the effects of environmental stressors and free radicals.
The Mighty Marula Tree
Now, marula oil is golden in color with a sweet, nutty smell. This nutrient-rich oil is cold-pressed from the nut of the sweet fruit that grows on marula trees. The marula tree, or — sclerocarya birrea — is native to southern Africa, where low rainfall and long, sunny days make for ideal growing conditions.
For generations, the people of southern Africa have revered the marula tree for its delicious fruit and health-boosting properties. But it’s the skincare benefits that really make the marula stand out. The oil is famous for being used in beauty rituals and to protect the skin from hot, dry weather.
Curious to know what exactly makes marula oil so effective? The answer lies in the oil’s abundance of fatty acids and antioxidants. Here’s a summary of those nutrients:
- Oleic Acid: Sixty-nine percent of marula oil is made up of oleic acid — an omega-9 fatty acid that penetrates deeply into the skin. 1,2
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: These fatty acids promote the health of multiple body systems, including the body’s largest organ — the skin. 3
- Vitamin C: This powerful antioxidant combats the damaging effects of free radicals, which can lead to the visible signs of aging. 4
- Vitamin E: Like vitamin C — vitamin E is an antioxidant that neutralizes the scavenging activities of free radicals. 5
How Marula Oil Benefits The Skin –
Marula oil works on all kinds of skin types: its hydrating qualities will moisturize dry skin, and because it’s non-comedogenic — it won’t clog pores or encourage overproduction of oil. Here are ways this balanced oil can benefit your skin by boosting your existing skincare routine with extra nutrients.
Softens and Moisturizes
Marula oil will leave your skin silky and smooth with its potent hydrating properties. Oleic acid has a unique ability to penetrate the tough, outer layer of skin, paving the way for moisture to sink in more deeply than many other oils and moisturizers. This penetration also allows other nutrients — like vitamin C, vitamin E, and polyphenols — to get to the deeper layers of skin where they can do more work.
The oil also contains palmitic and other fatty acids that provide lasting hydration by boosting the skin’s ability to retain moisture.6 Another bonus? The oil absorbs into the skin quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.
Helps Combat the Signs of Aging
A combination of powerful antioxidants makes marula oil a great addition to any anti-aging skin regimen.
As you get older, free radical activity increases. These free radicals — which can come from environmental pollution, UV rays, and industrial chemicals — cause oxidative stress on the body. It’s this oxidative stress that can lead to the premature aging of your skin. 7 But antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, alleviating the oxidative stress on the body.
Furthermore, marula oil contains vitamins C & E — along with polyphenols — which are heavy-hitter antioxidants known to help slow the process of skin aging. 8,9
Helps Protect the Skin From UV Damage
Now, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E tocopherols can help protect the skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays. 10,11 These damaging rays have the potential to cause serious health problems, as well as signs of “photoaging”.
Photoaging refers to the signs of aging that occur due to sun exposure. Photoaging can manifest itself on the skin with sunspots, wrinkles, loose skin, and collagen breakdown.
A certain amount of photoaging is inescapable, but vitamin C — which is found in marula oil — actually interferes with pigment overproduction. This interference with pigment production means a decrease in the appearance of sunspots on the skin.12
So if you’d like to protect your skin from UV rays and diminish the signs of sun damage — try a few drops of marula oil. But keep in mind — marula oil is not a replacement for a daily, generous application of sunscreen.
It Soothes Sensitive Skin
Red, irritated skin? Omega fatty acids work to reduce irritation and restore calmness to skin.13 And the hydrating qualities of marula oil also help the skin recover more quickly from blemishes.
Marula Oil Benefits for Hair
Marula isn’t just beneficial for your skin — it can work its wonders on your hair as well. Here are a few favors it can do for your follicles:
- Protects Hair: Just like skin, hair can show signs of aging when it’s exposed to oxidative stress.14 So a healthy dose of antioxidants to the hair can help protect your mane from the aging of hair, which can show up as grayness, thinning, and brittle strands.
- Moisturizes: The abundance of oleic and palmitic acid can also sink deep into your hair shaft, quenching dry strands.
- Diminishes Frizz: Marula oil is an occlusive — which means it traps moisture into the hair and keeps it there, effectively reducing the risk of frizz. 15
The Magic of Marula
So now you know… good things come from this magical tree south of the equator.
Try adding a little marula oil to your hair and skincare routine to boost the health, hydration, and brightness of your skin and hair. You’ll be glad you did.