An exotic oil extracted from a tree in southern Africa is the latest ancient beauty secret that’s blowing up in the west. If you want lustrous locks on your head, start using marula oil for hair growth. Marula oil is also very beneficial for your skin. Discover more about this all-in-one natural beauty ingredient….
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? The Amazonian cousin of coconut oil is less greasy than coconut oil.
But here’s one hair remedy you may not be familiar with. It’s called marula oil. The tree from which the oil is extracted is in the same family as mango, cashew, and pistachio. Can you picture rubbing mango, cashew or pistachios in your hair?
Probably not. But the oil that comes from the marula tree has anti-aging compounds that not only benefit hair but skin as well. However, before discussing why this African beauty treatment is so beneficial, let’s take a virtual trip to southern Africa and learn more about this amazing ingredient….
What is Marula Oil?
The marula tree is native to southern Africa and the island of Madagascar. It grows nowhere else on Earth. 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 botanic 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 the amount of the antioxidant as 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 marula oil for hair growth and skin is out. Stroll through the beauty section of any pharmacy and you’ll see several products containing it: lotions, lipsticks, foundations, etc….
When you buy a product with marula, another benefit (in addition to having healthier looking hair and skin) 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; it’s a vital source of income for these rural traditional people.
Marula oil for hair growth: how does it work?
Now that you can feel good about buying product with this botanical ingredient, let’s talk about 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.
Penetrates deeply, rich in vitamins & minerals
One reason marula oil works for hair is because of its deep-penetrating abilities. Not all oils sink deeply into the scalp. But marula does. 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 the vitamin C than orange? Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Well, one of the things vitamin C antioxidant does is prevent hair follicles from getting thinner.
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 oil rich in Vitamin E
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.
Marula intensive hair treatment
Let’s revisit Paul Mitchell and its line of intensive marula oil hair treatments, “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 so-called “marula intensive hair treatments.” They can not only help regrow hair but also help repair follicle damage. In addition, intensive marula oil can also increase shine and luster.
To reiterate, the all-star compound in marula oil is oleic acid. Oleic acid halts hair fallout due to poor scalp health and dandruff. Another bonus of using marula oil for hair growth: it works on any type of hair.
If you’re going to try one of these intensive hair treatments, 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 fruits 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 the 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 treatment 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 richer 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 hair treatment 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 Anti Aging 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 adic. 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,” says 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 study 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 study 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….