Are you familiar with marula oil benefits for hair and skin? This exotic oil extracted from a tree in Southern Africa is one of the latest ancient beauty secrets for more lustrous hair and smooth skin.
You’ve tried almost every all-natural product for your hair….
Sesame oil? Check. Henna hair dye? Yup, that too. Blackstrap molasses? Yes, who would have thought that syrup can help? Avocado oil? Sure, it’s a great hydrating serum. How about babassu oil? It’s a less greasy than coconut oil.
But marula oil benefits for hair might be one beauty secret you may not be familiar with. And it’s an oil that’s also has benefits for skin as well. However, before discussing why it’s so beneficial to hair and skin, let’s learn more about the history of this amazing natural beauty ingredient….
What Is Marula Oil?
The marula tree is native to southern Africa and the island of Madagascar. It’s a tree that’s in the same family as mango, cashew, and pistachio.
The oil is extracted from the walnut-sized nut (also called “the stone”) that lies inside the fleshy fruit of the Sclerocarya birrea tree. The botanical name of the tree is derived from ancient Greek and roughly translated means ‘hard nut’.
Since prehistoric times, traditional bands of tribes in South Africa have relied on these hard nuts as a major source of nutrition. The fleshy part of the fruit is rich in vitamin C. In fact, marula fruit contains eight times more than an orange.
Fabled traditional peoples in southern Africa, such as the Zulus and Bantus, have also relied on marula over the millennia, to protect skin from the harsh, arid elements.
And now, the secret about using marula oil for hair growth and improving skin is out. If you browse through the products in a beauty section of any pharmacy, you’ll see several products containing it. Everything from lotions, lipsticks, foundations, and more are using this incredible beauty oil.
When you buy a product with marula, an added benefit is that you’re helping support low income farmers (mostly women) who cultivate the fruit. Women’s collectives harvest the fruit using sustainable farming practices. The women in the collectives are paid living wages so they can support their families. The fruit only grows for two to three months a year so it’s a vital source of income for these rural traditional people.
What Are Some Marula Oil Benefits for Hair?
Now that you can feel good about buying beauty products with this botanical ingredient, let’s get into how it works.
This isn’t an ingredient you’ll only read about on obscure blog sites; it’s gone mainstream. In fact, Paul Mitchell sells a line of products containing it. On the iconic brand’s website reads the following alluring headline: “Imagine an oil so hydrating, replenishing and sustainable, it’s been an envied beauty secret in Africa for thousands of years.”
So what is the secret about marula oil? What makes it something you should consider adding to your beauty regimen? Recent research studies reveal the beneficial compounds, such as fatty acids, that offer proven health benefits. These compounds have been shown to benefit the scalp and hair follicles.
Absorbs Quickly and Penetrates Deeply
One reason marula oil works so well for hair and skin is because it can be easily and quickly absorbed. And it has deep-penetrating abilities. Not all oils sink deeply into the scalp. But marula does.
Rich in Vitamins & Minerals
And not only does it penetrate and hydrate deep into the roots, it’s also rich in minerals. These minerals, including iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper help promote healthy hair.
In addition, remember the fact that this fruit contains several times more vitamin C than an orange? Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Well, one of the things vitamin C antioxidant does is prevent hair follicles from getting thinner.
And that’s not all. Marula oil is also rich in amino acids and another hair-benefiting antioxidant that’s common in hair care products: vitamin E. Amino acids and vitamin E work together to help regenerate hair follicle cells.
Essential Fatty Acids For Hair Growth
Another benefit of this oil: it’s very high in the omega-9 fatty acid, oleic acid. You might be familiar with omega-3s and their health benefits. But did you know that omega-9s are also beneficial for your health? Oleic acid stimulates hair growth and makes hair thicker, longer and stronger. In fact, studies such as this one prove the benefits of oleic acid on hair.
Marula Hair Products
Let’s revisit Paul Mitchell and its line of marula oil hair products, “Marula Spheres.” Unlike other oils, which would simply rinse away, according to the Paul Mitchell website, Marula Spheres, “continue to provide maximum nutrients and hydration for noticeably healthy, shiny hair.”
There are several other brands that offer beneficial marula hair products. They claim they can not only help regrow hair but also help repair follicle damage. In addition, these products can also increase shine and luster.
The all-star compound in marula oil is oleic acid. It may stop hair fallout due to poor scalp health and dandruff. Another bonus of using marula oil for hair growth is that it works on any type of hair.
If you’re going to try one of these marula products, choose one that doesn’t have added synthetic ingredients such as sulfates, parabens and phthalates.
Drunk Elephant Marula Oil
There’s a popular brand of marula that’s called “Drunk Elephant.” The name comes from the fact that these giant mammals (as well as giraffes and rhinoceroses) eat the fruit of the tree (as well as the bark and branches). The folktale of elephants getting intoxicated from eating marula fruit seems to be nothing more than urban (or rural) legend.
This is because giant mammals would virtually need to eat an entire forest of marula trees to get drunk. Regardless if elephants do get drunk from eating lots of marula fruit or not, the name ‘Drunk Elephant’ in terms of marketing, is a memorable one.
Marula Oil vs Argan Oil
There are so many natural hair conditioning ingredients. Should you make room in your bathroom for marula? Is it really better than all the other tree oils? How does it compare to, say, argan oil?
Argan oil, also called Moroccan oil, is widely popular in skin care. However, as the health benefits of marula oil become more common, skin and hair care brands might start replacing argan oil with marula. This is because marula oil is higher in oleic acid and antioxidants than argan.
But the best way to find out which is the best oil is to test for yourself. Or, better yet, use both oils. In fact, this website lists the following recipe:
- Mix 10 tablespoons of marula oil with 5 tablespoons of argan oil
- Pour deep conditioner into a bowl and whip thoroughly
- Heat up the oil mix in the microwave then add to the deep conditioner. Whip some more.
- Apply it to the length of your hair after shampooing and deep condition under a steamer without a cap for 30 – 45 minutes.
- Rinse and style
Marula Oil Benefits for Skin
Oleic acid, the omega-9 fatty acid doesn’t only benefit your hair. It also benefits your skin. Nearly 70 percent of marula’s compounds are oleic acid. Its remaining natural compounds are also great for the skin, including palmitic acid (15 percent) and linoleic acid (almost 10 percent).
This study concludes Marula oil does not irritate the skin and helps dry skin moisturize and hydrate. Additionally the oil exhibited occlusive effects (p < 0.001) when applied to normal skin. “Its inclusion in cosmetic products based on its traditional use may be justified,” said the study authors.
And this study suggests marula oil is an effective anti-aging ingredient for cosmetics.
Other Benefits of Marula Oil
You’re not likely to find marula oil in your local supermarket. But if you come across it, cook with it. It’s a healthy cooking oil. Like coconut oil, it’s resistant to spoilage (oxidation) and has a long shelf life. And according to this article, it contains many minerals that are beneficial for health. Furthermore, its protein content is high. In fact, it’s one of the richest sources of protein in more than 75 edible plants in sub-Saharan Africa.
Another article shows that the edible part of the fruit lowers cholesterol. It also prevents artery-hardening. In addition, it might also be good for your gut. This is because it’s high in good bacteria (probiotics), concludes this research.
Are you using marula oil for hair growth or skin care (or cooking oil) ? Leave a comment below…