marula oil in beaker

There are many many lipid oils that make wonderful skincare oils all on their own. Here I want to focus in on one of these, marula oil.

Using a single oil for skincare is a good way to simplify your routine or bring in a new oil when testing for sensitivities. Working with and experiencing an oil on its own is is also a good way to get to know an oil, how it feels, the effect it has on the skin, it’s texture and characteristics.

It has a silky feel and it absorbs rapidly into the skin. If you wear makeup, it becomes a primer for the skin and if you prefer a natural bare face, marula oil has a softening and brightening effect on the skin.

Marula Oil Fatty Acid Profile & INCI

This lipid oil is very high in oleic acid (70%). The rest of the fatty acid chart is made up of linoleic acid (6%) and saturated palmitic acid (10%). It also has a small amount of the very-long-chain erucic fatty acid which gives the oil a silky full body feel.

INCI: Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Oil

A note on the color: marula oil has a beautiful rose gold color, a color that I have not come across in any other lipid oil I’ve worked with.

The healing fraction, or unsaponifiable portion

The healing fraction, also called the unsaponifiable portion of oils is made up of antioxidants, vitamins, polyphenols, phytosterols and other compounds.

These plant compounds make up a small, but powerful part of lipid oils. This is also what is refined out of highly refined oils like fractionated coconut oil and others.

Marula oil, when not overly refined has naturally occurring polyphenols, phytosterols, and vitamin E.

Phytosterols are plant compounds that help the skin retain moisture and protects the barrier function of the stratum corneum.

Marula oil is pressed from the seeds of the marula tree, a native of western and southern Africa where it has a long history of use for food, skincare and cooking.

Marula Oil for Skincare

Add a few drops of marula oil to the palm of your hands and pat gently onto damp skin. This is perfect right out of the shower or after washing your face.

You can also apply a gentle toner or hydrosol to your skin before applying a skincare oil such as marula.

Marula oil is also a lovely full body moisturizer as it is not as expensive typically as some other skincare oils like prickly pear seed oil.

For hair, apply a few drops to damp hair. The silky texture of marula oil gives shine without weighing down the hair or making it sticky or heavy.

In formulas and combinations:

When making facial oils, experimenting is a good way to come up with different combinations.

Here are a few oils I might combine marula with:

Pracaxi oil for hyperpigmentation and smoothing skin appearance.

Prickly pear seed oil and sea buckthorn berry oil for a vitamin and antioxidant-rich facial serum.

Rosehip seed oil for scar tissue.

As a Carrier Oil

Marula oil makes a lovely carrier oil. With its light texture and exceptional skin nourishing properties, an essential oil blend will shine whether for skincare or massage.

Are you using marula oil in your skincare routine or formulas? Share in the comments below.

  • Good day

    Since Marula is from a tree, which is not sustainable if not planted and cultivated but wild harvested, one should appreciate every drop.
    Kalahari melon seed oil is just as good for the skin but are planted as well as wild harvested. It is also a drought survival and accurate projections can be made. We did an Analysis on the oil and it compares well with other seed oils, especially Marula.
    Would you be interested in using and experimenting? I can send a sample.

  • I recently bought Marula oil and have really found it to be a nice daily oil. It seems to soak in quickly yet provide enough of a barrier so moisture isn’t lost. It is becoming a favorite.

    • Hi Leslie,

      Sorry I don’t know. It’s available from a number of sources. check out the sources doc in the Facebook group.

  • Thankyou Susan for such interesting information. This is one oil i have not tried yet but will be ordering soon as my interest is now piqued. Can you tell us what the scent is like?

  • Thank you for this very interesting and informative blog. Could you please show the data that supports this statement in your blog:

    In fact, you can add marula oil to a facial or body oil to help extend the shelf life of other oils in that formula as well.

    • Oils with carbon chains of 20 carbons and longer help to preserve oils – marula is not as powerful in this regard as meadowfoam and other very-long chain fatty acid oils but it does have a minor percentage that will help protect oils.

  • I’ve used several oils but have overlooked this one. Thank you for this information. Ready to order some.

  • Thanks for the comprehensive information on Marula oil.
    Would like to have a copy of the quick guide to carrier oils.

    • I’ve been using marula oil for about a month now and I believe it has become my favorite single facial oil. It provides just enough moisture alone while feeling silky soft and leaving a healthy glow. I just love it 🙂

    • Marula trees grow in my country and I have just started extracting my own oils. I am learning about the properties from Susan, though the oil is used in cooking and skincare in villages. I am also getting a lot of valuable information from our mothers who have used this oil traditionally. It is amazing and now I incorporate the traditional and cosmetic ways into my products. I live in Zambia Central Africa with lots of the indegenous trees that produce great oils.
      Thank you Susan for the lessons I am appreciating my heritage more and more.

      • Angelica, that sounds wonderful and exciting. Love that you are appreciating your heritage through the oils. they are really important for both our culture and our body’s health.

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