Thursday, 2 January 2014


Recently I have noticed the use of Marula oil creeping into quite a few of my favorite beauty products, from my Clarins pure melt cleansing gel to the face masks I love to the make-up and oils we sell at my workplace. I have also seen it advertised to be a stand-alone facial moisturiser. Seeing it and discussing it with customers so often has intrigued me to find out more and made me want to know what this oil is exactly, what it’s used for and what benefits it has on one’s skin as I am intrigued to know why it is so highly rated within my beloved beauty community. 

The Marula Oil doesn't fall too far from the tree

In order to research this magical oil, I had to find out more about the 'root' of the source (pun intended!) so I set out to learn more about the Marula tree itself (sclerocarya birrea is its botanic name). Marula oil is cold pressed from the kernels of this beautiful tree, but I found out that there is far more to this tree than just it's ability to produce this wonderful Oil.  

The Marula tree is common in the lower-lying areas of southern Africa, and is found, in abundance, in Namibia, It is a single-stemmed tree with a wide-spreading, round crown with characteristic grey, mottled bark. It is a between 15-20 meters high, so rather tall If I do say so myself at 1.5 meters or so. The compound leaves are grey in colour, but turn pale yellow prior to being shed. The tree remains bare for several months of the year. It is best known for its golf ball-sized fruit, which it bears in profusion during the summer. They are green when young, becoming yellow as they ripen - like my lovely friend the banana! The fruit encloses a white, slimy fruit pulp and a large, hard, woody stone seed. The seeds contained therein are white and nut-like - FYI, this is where the Marula Oil is extracted from! 

The bark contains procyanidins, which have been linked to its anti-diarrhea activity, while the plant is said to contain gallotannins, flavonoids and catechins. It is claimed that the leaves have hypoglycaemic effects (aka they decrease the level of glucose in the blood thus preventing or helping diabetes).The bark has also been said to help with fever and malaria. It also plays huge role in many traditional cultures in Southern Africa. Some believe that the sex of a child can be pre-determined by administering an infusion of the bark of a male or female tree to a pregnant woman. The Zulu and Tonga peoples both call Marula the ‘marriage tree’, and a brew of the bark is administered as part of a cleansing ritual prior to marriage. (ctfa, 2014).

The fruit is rich in Vitamin C (In fact it has four times as much vitamin C as an orange!) and can be eaten ripe, but are far more popularly used to brew beer. Its high pectin content, and delicious flavor, makes it ideal for jelly, and it has also been used for sweets, liqueurs, syrup and preserves.The seed kernel, though hard to extract from the seed, is also tasty, and widely eaten. The kernels and the oil are said to be effective meat preservatives, whilst the oil is often used for culinary purposes, as well as being a traditional skin moisturizer.

It sounds to me like a truly magical tree, and who wouldn't want to incorporate the magical oil made from this magical tree as a part of their beauty regime? It also rests well with me that the tree is completely sustainable and has more uses than just the cosmeceutical kind!

Marula Oil Itself 

Marula oil has a clear, light yellow colour and a pleasant, sweet, nutty aroma. Traditionally used as a moisturising body lotion for women and also a massage oil for babies. In the past women even used Marula oil instead of water to clean themselves. (Windhoek, The history of Marula use in north-central Namibia, Eudofano Women’s Co-operative Ltd) Marula oil is traditionally used in cosmetics but has other uses such as being used as a cooking oil, as a meat preservative and also as a leather treatment, obviously leather is a type of skin, the toughest kind in fact, so it makes sense as to why it is used in cosmetics we put onto our skin.
Marula oil contains a large proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids and natural antioxidents which make the oil very stable enabling it to outperform all known natural liquid oils.. The fatty acid composition of marula oil includes: (Hore, D, 2004) Mono-unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid, Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as Linoleic acid, Alpha-linolenic acid and saturated fatty acids such as palmitic acid, stearic acid, arachidonic acid and it also contains tocopherols, sterols and flavonoids, with antioxidant action. Procyanidin, galattotannin and catechins are also found in marula oil (Mariod et al; Matthaus, Bertrand; Eichner, K, 2004)

Skin deep...

This bit is going to be about what Marula Oil actually does for your skin and why it is becoming so popular in the world of beautification! It is called the new "miracle oil" in the cosmetics industry thanks to its composition of monounsaturated fatty acids and its rich content of antioxidants, making it excellent for hydrating, nourishing, protecting and rejuvenating the skin. It is suitable for all skin types and due to its high content of fatty acids it has a non-greasy, light texture which enables it to absorb quickly into the skin. It is clinically proven to contain a great deal of antioxidants and omega acid and it can be used alone as a highly effective moisturizer or added to other facial products to boost their efficacy. It can also be used to soothe skin after facial treatments or sunburn, or - my personal favorite, it can be used as a perfect makeup primer. The anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of the Oil reduce the need for preservatives which is brilliant because, none of us want too many 'nasties' coming into contact with our skin! It's essential amino acids and flavinoids help cells renew and resist damaging effects of the environment and I think the fact it has been used for centuries to protect the skin and hair from harsh dry weather conditions proves this in itself. 

Here is a little list I have put together about all the wonderful abilities this magical oil has:

* Marula Oil delivers advanced protection against aging - neutralizing free radicals, helping to build collagen, and providing antioxidant protection. More anti-oxidant protection means more youthful looking skin and ensures a better defense against premature skin aging!

*Marula oil is ideal for dull, aging skin, under-nourished skin and frequent travelers because, as I said before it is great at rejuvenating one's skin!

*Marula oil is rich in essential fatty acids meaning it deeply hydrates the skin and can reduce redness while nourishing, healing, moiturising and improving skin elasticity. (FYI - If you improve the elasticity of your skin, it can reduce the signs of scaring and stretchmarks).

*Marula Oil reduces water loss and increases the smoothness of the skin.

*Marula Oil supports the natural buildup of the skins lipid layers and possesses anti-inflammatory properties.

*Marula Oil is ideal for dry, dehydrated, sensitive, sun damaged skin, post-treatment, stretchmarks and scar tissue while providing nutrition to the skin.

*Marula oil can help to heal acne blemishes and scaring too as it is pH balanced, non-comedogenic (aka it doesn't cause black heads by blocking the skin's pores) and has anti-microbial properties.

In short:
*It hydrates skin.
*It softens and minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
*It improves the elasticity of the skin.
*It improves skin tone and firmness.
*It soothes irritation.

A final word 

One final thing that makes me love this oil so much after finding out all about it is the fact that the production and consumption of this miraculous oil contributes to rural and social development. Marula oil is sourced in south Africa, usually through a fair trade program (I know this is the case for the body shop and when buying it pure for instance from *here* The fair trade program involved supports women in village collectives, protects the environment and the Marula trees. In South-Africa there are a number of eco-friendly, low-tech enterprises designed to empower and uplift women in rural communities and provide a sustainable income for families in tribal lands.

This means that every product containing this African genius oil has a proud heritage of environmental responsibility and community care and I really do believe that If you can do something and do it i a positive, good manner - then why would you not? Vaya Marula Oil being a huge part of my future skincare regime! Especially if I know the damage to others in minimal - or even better - non-existent


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