By now you know that the whole of mbg (this beauty editor included) is obsessed with oil: coconut, argan, rosehip, we're looking at you. Potent liquid pots of gold, they're the ultimate multitaskers, great for all-over moisturizing, hair defrizzing, cleansing, cooking, pretty much EVERYTHING! We introduced you to the new oil on the block (baobab) last year, and now it's time to meet marula, the anti-aging secret from Africa!
Marula oil is made from the fruit of the marula tree, indigenous to Southern Africa, and it has a lot of selling points. "It's the oil with the lightest molecular weight and the richest source of oleic acid," says African Botanics co-founder Julia Nolk. Translation? It's moisturizing, but it won't clog your pores. "Because it's rich in essential fatty acids that mimic those that exist naturally in the outer layer of the skin, it's quickly absorbed without leaving you greasy," says Nolk. It also contains the mega anti-aging antioxidants vitamin C (four times as much as an orange), E, and flavonoids (a class of antioxidant phytochemicals especially abundant in deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables, along with coffee, nuts, and seeds).
"The geographic position on the west edge of Southern Africa where the marula tree grows, gives rise to certain climatic characteristics," says Nolk. "The low rainfall and endless hours of bright sunshine create the perfect environment—unlike any other in the world—to produce exceptional growing conditions for the trees to bear their annual fruit."
Nolk finds the oil "perfect for the winter months, as it has a bit of a thicker consistency than other oils, so it creates a barrier against harsh winter conditions." As for who should use marula oil? It's great for all skin types, which is one of the reasons Nolk calls it her "star ingredient." When she and her husband Craig were in the early stages of developing their line, she immediately sensed its potency. "The way it absorbed on my skin, the way it felt, and the way it blended with other ingredients were pure magic. It was a no-brainer for us to make it the leading lady in our entire line."
But can adding oil to your beauty rituals really give you better skin? One of the pioneers to see potential in the face-oil category was fashion stylist Linda Rodin. Frustrated with skin care that "wasn't working," she took matters into her own hands—literally—and in 2007, Rodin Olio Lusso was born. "I combined the oils I loved in a coffee cup over my bathroom sink and came up with this concoction to hydrate my skin," Rodin explains. Beauty companies followed suit, launching their own recipes for almost every skin type and issue, a trend that has gained major traction globally.
"Oils are naturally more gentle than most traditional anti-aging products because they deliver the active ingredients deep into the skin without irritating the surface," says Nolk. "And they create a dewy glow that lasts all day." Without any harsh (or greasy) side effects.
- Add a few drops to your mask, moisturizer, or face cream to supercharge the active ingredients, hydrate, and soften the skin.
- 1 to 2 drops of marula oil added to liquid foundation will create luminosity for your skin.
- Massage 3 drops into your scalp before you shampoo for a hydrating treatment. "Because marula calms inflammation and dramatically rehydrates the skin, you'll be forming a natural barrier to lock in moisture," says Nolk.
- Spot-treat a pimple. "Rich in omegas 6 and 9, which boosts collagen production, calms skin inflammation, and reduces redness, your zits won't stand a chance," says Nolk. But "if you're acne-prone, oil-free moisturizers are still the safest bet," she says.
Regardless of how you choose to use the oil, "within a day you're going to see a difference," says Nolk, "because that's how oils work." And what's most exciting is how nature's natural healers can deliver high-tech actives to the skin with an innovative spin on the traditional formulas of the past—and all without suffocating your pores.
Note: Marula oil may cause allergies or allergenic reactions to people who are allergic to nuts—the marula tree is in the same family, Anacardiaceae, as the mango, cashew and pistachio nut.