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Africa’s Beauty Secret: Marula Oil

It’s easy to be a skeptic in the skincare world, where every product is often prefaced by the word “miracle,” and every ingredient seems to possess “age-defying” properties.  But once in a while, something comes along that not only lives up to the hype but is worthy of a permanent spot in our beauty cabinets. Case in point: Marula oil. Hand harvested from the kernels inside the sweet exotic fruit of the indigenous African Marula tree, the multi-purpose oil has been a skincare staple for the Ovambo women in northern Namibia for generations. In fact, the Marula is an African botanical treasure; often regarded as sacred, the tree is imbued with cultural significance, romance, and legend. It grows only in sub-equatorial Africa making the oil a rare commodity. 

But Marula oil is certainly not the first ingredient claimed to soften skin, so what makes it unique? The key to Marula’s outstanding performance is its fine molecular structure which contributes to its effectiveness not only as a skin hydrator but also as a protector. It boasts a high concentration of antioxidants such vitamin E and C (four times as much as an orange), essential amino acids and flavonoids that help cells renew and resist the harmful effects of free radicals in the environment, including UV damage and air pollution. 

Marula Oil is also incredibly rich in essential omega 9 and omega 6 fatty acids, which provide deep, long-lasting hydration and reduce redness while nourishing, healing, and improving the skin’s elasticity. By helping to reduce transepidermal water loss, it increases the overall smoothness of skin. The oil has an appealing, surprisingly lightweight consistency and non-greasy texture and is both fast absorbing and non-comedogenic (it won’t clog pores or lead to blackheads). The indulgent oil sinks deep into the skin, leaving it silky and luminous.

As for who should use Marula oil? It’s suitable (and in fact recommended) for all skin types as it is naturally soothing and effectively combats inflammation.

Here are a few simple ways in which you can integrate the oil-du-jour into your beauty routine:

  • Warm 2–3 drops of oil in the palms of your hands, gently press onto clean, slightly damp face, neck and décolleté.
  • Add a couple of drops of Marula oil to your facial cleanser for added hydration and to offset the drying effect of washing your face.
  • Use as a serum booster under foundation or cream to intensify hydration and restore radiance.
  • Apply a few drops to clean damp hair before blow-drying or styling.
  • Massage oil on your nails to fortify fragile, brittle nails and moisturize the cuticles.
  • Rub all over your body, ideally on slightly damp skin post-shower or bath. 

­– Written by Sofia Sosunov

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