Should You Try Marula Oil?

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Right now, everybody loves oils. Intensely hydrating and packed with nutrients, they can replace everything and the kitchen sink in your life — or at least everything from your moisturizer to your frizz-fighting serum in your beauty routine.

Related: 9 Natural Oils and What They Do

The newest buzzy oil is marula, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you’re about to see it everywhere. Here’s all you need to know about its origin and benefits.

What is marula oil?

The oil originates from Africa, extracted from the kernels of the native marula tree, and we’re seeing the ingredient pop up more and more on shelves in its pure oil form, as well as in moisturizers, cleansers, and hair care products. According to Dr. Jenny Kim, professor of clinical medicine in the division of dermatology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, African women have used traditional botanicals like marula to care for babies’ super-sensitive skin for years. “We’re finding different components of the oil are really effective for health,” Kim says. “The monounsaturated fatty acids, especially Oleic acid, and the natural antioxidants in marula are great for the skin.”

Why use marula oil?

Marula Oil contains roughly 60 percent more antioxidants than other beauty oils like argan oil or grapeseed oil, in addition to higher levels of fatty acids like Omega 6 and 9— which set this oil apart from others on the market. “The fatty acids in marula are really hydrating and nourishing,” says Kim, “while the antioxidants like Vitamins C and E protect your skin from sun exposure and pollution, and can even help reverse the damage that’s already there.” These benefits make marula a good anti-ager and its ultra-moisturizing properties make it a great addition to your winter beauty regimen.

Related: 7 Things Coconut Oil Can Do For You

Is marula better than the rest?

Progressively, we see more and more awareness for oils — Jojoba has been around, Argan grew trendy a couple years back — so is marula really any different? Kim likes the idea of adding an oil to your regimen, but says it’s really based on personal preference. “It’s kind of like asking, ‘Which is better for your body, kale or other greens?’” she explains. “They all provide benefits. And because these are botanicals, we don’t have comparative studies. For non-FDA, non-medicinal products, it’s hard to know which is better.”

Kim does believe, however, that the beauty industry is onto something by tapping into the power of nature. “I think marula oil is fascinating,” she says. “Smart companies are looking toward plants for protective beauty, because, when you imagine a tree living outside with the elements, there must be something really amazing going on inside to keep it standing strong and consistently fresh. Somehow taking those benefits and putting them onto skin can be hugely beneficial.” 

Here are some products with marula oil to check out now. 

Marula Pure Marula Facial Oil ($78)

This fair-trade, 100-percent-pure oil is the gold standard for a radiant complexion — totally virgin, wild-harvested from Africa and cold-pressed to ensure the effectiveness of the botanical’s antioxidant and fatty-acid properties. It’s light and non-greasy, absorbing instantly into the skin to moisturize before make-up, or a great way to boost your foundation liquid foundation or cleanser with marula oil’s benefits.

Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar ($28)

Although Drunk Elephant touts an entire line of marula-based products, the brand’s bars Juju and Pekee Bars provide unique cleansing benefits. Notably, the pH-balanced Pekee bar is a blend of marula oil, blueberry extract and honey to soothe, hydrate and promote elasticity while you cleanse away the day’s grit and grime.

Rare El’ements Marula Cocktail Hair Mist ($33)

Although marula’s skin products get most of the hype, the oil can also be used as a hydrating, shine-sealer for your strands. Rare El’ements’ cocktail is a leave-in conditioning mist that both nourishes hair to smooth, de-tangle and prevent breakage, while giving your mane a little extra sparkle.

Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel with Marula Oil ($34)

Some make-up can stay trapped in pores even after you wash, causing blemishes by morning—but Clarins’ cleansing gel uses marula’s benefits to strip away all cosmetic residue without stripping moisture. If you apply the formula over your make-up before you wet skin, you’ll have ultra-clean, smooth and hydrated skin after you wash.

African Botanics Resurrection Eye Creme ($95)

The African Botanics line contains a whole arsenal of marula products, but the oil-based hydrating eye cream is particularly perfect as both a weapon in both aging defense and aging reversal. This formulation aims specifically to boost collagen, reduce fine lines and smooth the sensitive skin around eyes.