Marula Oil

Marula Oil is a clear yellow colored oil with a very mild, nutty aroma. It is produced by crushing the kernels from the fruit of the marula tree. These fruits are round and yellow and are said to contain more Vitamin C than oranges do. To the indigineous people of the area, they are a great source of nutrition and Marula Oil.

Where does Marula Oil come from?

It’s native to South Africa. The fruits of the Marula tree are very tasty. Very tasty for elephants too. When the fruit gets over ripe, it ferments on the tree and turns into raw alcohol. Local elephants love this and there have been many reports about drunk elephants staggering around. When a drunk elephant staggers into your yard and falls over against your house you know it! That’s why I have got the photo of the baby elephant at the top of this post following his herd looking for marula fruit.

The local people make sure to harvest as much as they can because it is not only a valuable cash crop they can sell and use themselves, but they need to keep the elephants sober. It’s kinder that way. An elephant with a hangover is not kind.

It’s what I call a dry oil. When you put a couple of drops on your fingertips, you can still snap your fingers. It sinks in quickly leaving a very light and elegant skin feel. As you would guess, this makes it not a great idea to use as a massage oil – you would half way up someone’s back and come to a skidding halt as all the lubrication was gone! Doesn’t mean it can’t be used in an oil blend though. Just blend it with a heavier oil that hangs around on the skin a bit longer like Meadowfoam Seed Oil or Shea ButterThat way, they don’t feel quite so greasy but the combination is incredible. Don’t think that if you are not a masseur/masseuse that you can’t use massage oils. They are great to use on your arms and legs for yourself. In my book, I tell you how to combine oils to make them work in a spray bottle. I use that method after a shower to spray the oil up in the air and then step into it as it floats down. That’s the only way I can get some on my back on my own. Works well as it doesn’t need rubbing in.

The INCI name is Sclerocarya Birrea which is a sure fire way to know you are getting the right oil. INCI is explained more here.

Typical Fatty Acid Structure of Marula Oil

C16:0 Palmitic Acid 9% to 12%

C18:0 Stearic Acid 5% to 8%

C18:1 Oleic Acid (Omega 9) 70% to 80%

C18:2 Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) 6% to 8%

Saponification Value: 188 – 196 mg KOH/g

That’s a whopping great level of Omega 9 essential fatty acid that brings several really desirable functions to you. It keeps the skin soft and supple. This is so useful because as a light feeling, dry oil, you will be able to use it even in hot weather. It won’t feel heavy on your skin. If it’s a pleasure to use, you use it more often which means that you noticeably reduce the appearance of wrinkles. If you have dry or flaky skin, this is one of the best oils for you!

It got a good load of antioxidants in it. These antioxidants tangle up free radicals and stop free radical damage to your whole body – not just your skin.

As said earlier, it’s not a great oil for massage because it sinks in so quickly. Do what I suggested and blend it with other oils because, in fact it is a GREAT oil for massage because high levels of Omega 9 help to prevent joint inflammation. It eases stiff joints and helps to manage pain levels. Doesn’t work when it stays in the bottle though, you need to get it on your skin!

Essential Fatty Acid deficiency means your body loses so many of these benefits.

Let’s move onto the Omega 6 content which makes all oils it contains feel thinner. That’s why this oil is so light and non greasy. It also locks moisture into the skin and keeps it well hydrated and is great for acne skin types as it is anti inflammatory and non comedogenic so will not block the pores. It even helps to reduce future breakouts.

Marula Oil For Hair Growth

Yep, it gets better. Marula Oil is a great oil to use on your hair. I use in the Cool Conditioning Bar formulation in my book Off Your Face Creams  because it softens your hair without leaving it feeling greasy and there is no stickiness. It goes on to protect the hair from damage without making your hair feel heavy or lank. It gives a great shine to your hair.

It stimulates your hair follicles so that your hair grows thicker and stronger and is less prone to breakage. Obviously, you can see it would be a great oil to use if your hair has been over processed. Oh, and it helps to eliminate dandruff as well.

Why Do I Like Using Plant Oils Instead Of Mineral Oil?

Mineral oils come from petrochemicals and we learned in our naturopathic training how they blocked and sealed the skin for 7 to 10 days after one single application. From a superficial point of view, this looks like – it lasts right? Not so good though.

Your skin is your body’s largest eliminative organ. Bigger than your bowel for eliminating waste. If you seal off that eliminative organ, you start having to store toxic waste elsewhere in your body. Toxic waste is, well, toxic, so your body does what you do in your home with stuff that you don’t want around. You stuff it in the basement of roof space. Your body wants to keep toxicity away from your major organs so this toxic waste is shoved as far away in the body as it can go – to the extremities like your legs, feet and hands. Ever wondered why arthritis and rheumatism start in these areas?

Mineral oils dry the skin out after extended use. How many lip balms have you got? One in your purse, one at work, one in your coat pocket, one by the bed … ain’t working are they?

Unlike mineral oil, plant oils do penetrate the skin. Some penetrate slowly and some penetrate quickly due to their different molecular sizes. But they all penetrate. We use this knowledge well. For a massage, you want an oil that hangs around for a while to give your lubrication. For your face in the morning, you may want an oil that absorbs super quick so that you don’t go out looking like an oil slick. They ALL help to keep water locked in to your skin and keep it hydrated WITHOUT blocking your skin’s natural elimination processes. Keeping the skin hydrated and plumped up helps to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.

Looking After Your Marula Oil

Marula Oil is best kept in cool, dark conditions so try to keep it in the refrigerator. Failing that, the garage or just in a cupboard that is cool i.e. not in the kitchen. This extends its shelf life which is good already.

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2 thoughts on “Marula Oil”

  1. I only clicked on this blog because of the gorgeous little baby elephant but now I have read it through – wow! Why have I never heard of this oil before? It’s sounds just wonderful.

    • I don’t think little Dumbo is one of the drunk elephants! I think he’s just running after his family. This oil is one of my all time favorites along with Tigernut Oil.


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