Health Benefits of Marula Oil

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on March 16, 2023
4 min read

Marula oil comes from the kernels of the marula fruit, which originates in Africa. People in southern Africa have used it for hundreds of years as a skin care product and protectant. Marula oil protects the hair and skin against the effects of the harsh sun and weather there. Today you can find marula oil in many skin lotions, lipsticks, and foundations.

Since marula oil comes from the seed of a fruit, it has similar health benefits that other fruits do. For instance, many fruits are rich in protein and antioxidants, which make it good for the skin and body. Its fine molecular structure hydrates and protects wherever it’s applied to — such as skin or hair. These combined factors make marula oil an effective treatment.  

But does it have other health benefits? Let’s find out more about this special oil and why you might want to add it to your skincare routine.  

What makes this little-known, multipurpose oil so special is that it’s full of beneficial components, such as:   

All of these elements work together to make marula oil a great skincare product.

Amino acids are the “building blocks of life.” When they bond together they form protein. Your body needs protein to maintain healthy skin, repair cells, and break down food. Marula oil contains L-arginine and glutamic acid. Both of these amino acids also have hydrating, anti-aging properties. 

Fatty acids — particularly monounsaturated fatty acids, which marula oil contains — also help moisturize your skin. 

Antioxidants, like vitamin E and vitamin C, fight free radicals — molecules that can potentially damage cells. They also can prevent skin damage.

Marula oil is a multipurpose oil because people use it all over the body. It nourishes from the inside and is an excellent addition to any beauty regimen.    

Prevents Damage from Sun and Environment

The sun’s ultraviolet rays along with high amounts of pollution in the environment cause skin damage, according to dermatologist Hadley King, MD. By using an oil such as marula oil, you can better combat these elements.

Keeps Skin Healthy

Many people use marula oil as a moisturizer. The oil itself is lightweight and absorbs into the skin easily. Once applied, it also helps hydrate your skin. It can be effective for softening and smoothing fine lines and getting rid of acne. It keeps your skin looking and feeling hydrated and healthy. It even works as a lip moisturizer. 

Hydrates Hair

Marula oil hydrates and protects your hair. It can be used on all hair types, whether dry, frizzy, or brittle. Overall, the elements in marula oil nourish your hair without making it greasy. Its properties also prevent water loss.  

Softens Nails

Marula oil also benefits your nails. Often, dry hands or feet can make our nails brittle and tough. However, a moisturizer like marula oil can keep your cuticles and nail beds nice and soft. After using marula oil, you may notice that less hangnails form, and enjoy more youthful, softer skin.

There are many uses for marula oil and you’ll notice the health and beauty benefits almost immediately.

Marula oil has no well-documented, specific health risks. Still, there is a need for precautions. Possible risks associated with marula oil include:

Allergic Reaction

Anyone allergic to fruits or nuts should be careful using marula oil, since it comes from the nut of the marula fruit. If someone with a nut allergy uses it, they could experience an allergic reaction. Signs that you have an allergy include:

If allergies are a concern for you, you can do an allergy test on yourself at home. To do so:

  • Apply a drop of marula oil on your skin. (A good place to test for an allergy is on your inner forearm.)
  • Then wait — an allergic reaction can appear in minutes or in as long as two days. Keep an eye on the spot you placed the oil to note any changes that could occur.
  • If the skin becomes red, itchy, or swollen, you probably have an allergy to marula oil and should not use it.

Vision Problems

Marula oil can be applied to many places, but one area you should avoid is your eyes. If you get oil in your eyes, try to get the oil out immediately. Failing to do so could result in vision problems. 

There’s no specified amount or dosage you need to make sure to use. However, many people apply small drops of the oil to their faces, hands, or hair to finish off their skin care routines. Marula oil restores elasticity and smooths out cellulite and scars. 

You can use marula oil during the day or at night. Whether you have dry or oily skin, it doesn’t matter. The oil will moisturize no matter where it’s applied. You can apply it right before putting on makeup since it absorbs so quickly. The key is to dab the oil on your face — no rubbing, just tapping. This helps the oil sink into your skin.

Some shampoos have marula oil included in their list of ingredients. However, if yours does not, you can add a few drops to it if you wish. Another way to use marula oil is to apply it to your hair before you shampoo. Both of these methods help your hair gain the health benefits of marula oil.
Marula oil is also popularly used as a body lotion. Apply it liberally after bathing or before bed on dry skin. It penetrates deep, even where the skin is the thickest.