|Marula oil comes from the fruit kernels of the marula tree, one of southern Africa’s great indigenous fruit trees. This pure oil has long been used as a nourishing skin moisturiser by women in southern Africa, thanks to its unique composition of fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
A natural facial moisturiser
We tend to think of plant oils as carrier oils for use in massage or as nutritional ingredients in skin creams and lotions. Used directly on the face, they can take a while to absorb, leave an oily residue or have a strong smell. The beauty of marula oil is that it’s light, non-greasy, virtually odourless and absorbs quickly. Its easy absorption is due to its high content of oleic acid (70-78%) and linoleic acid (4-7%). This, along with its other nutritional components, makes the oil ideal for use as a hydrating and smoothing facial oil.
Marula oil also contains a high concentration of palmitic acid, which forms a protective coating on the skin’s surface, keeping skin hydrated for a long time.
A major cause of aging in skin is damage caused by free radicals, which come from various sources including pollution, make-up, UV radiation and poor nutrition. Too many free radicals can result in dull, blotchy skin and loss of skin elasticity. Thanks to its composition of fatty acids and nutritional components, marula oil contains high levels of powerful antioxidants that help to protect against these harmful free radicals. The oil has been shown to have free radical scavenging properties higher than most seed oils on the market. These reduce the action of free radicals thus preventing cell damage in the first place.
A very stable oil
Early studies of the oil were conducted by ethnobotanists who were curious about how certain African tribes use the oil to preserve meat for very long periods of time. Their studies revealed that the oil has extraordinary oxidative stability and is ten times more stable to oxidation than olive oil. This stability gives marula oil a very long shelf life and makes it ideal for use as a natural ingredient in cosmetic formulas.
Marula oil has excellent properties as a tissue oil and African women have traditionally used it during pregnancy to help reduce or avoid stretch marks. The oil contains essential omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic acids), which maintain the suppleness and elasticity of skin and can help heal wounds and calm itchiness. Marula oil works effectively in decreasing redness and helps keep skin smoother by blocking enzymes that cause fatty concentrations in the skin.
Eileen Murphy is the founder of Scotia Fair Trade, a business that promotes Fair Trade natural skin care products and crafts from Africa, Asia and South America. Visit http://www.scotiafairtrade.com for more information.