Little known outside Africa, marula oil is starting to find its way into haircare concoctions around the world…
If you’ve never heard of marula (Sclerocarya birrea) before, that’s okay—few people outside western and southern Africa or Madagascar know about this fruit-bearing plant. Through history, the fruit of the marula tree has been an important food source in Africa and has considerable socioeconomic importance. And science continues to find newer uses for every different part of the fruit, including the kernel.
Once the pulp has been removed, the kernel of the marula fruit is processed in order to extract the kernel’s oil. This oil can either be added to cosmetics or be used as a carrier-oil at home. Compared to other more well-known oils, marula oil is a hair and skincare powerhouse. For example, while Moroccan argan oil is famous for its antioxidant properties, marula oil contains upto 60% more antioxidants than argan oil!
It’s not just the high level of antioxidants that makes marula oil so sought after by beauty and haircare brands; it is also a rich source of omega oils and fatty acids—two very important building blocks of healthy hair. The high concentration of oleic acid in particular helps give hair the lustrous and shiny finish we all crave. Marula oil also contains copious amounts of vitamin C and E, which help prevent damage to the hair follicles and also help repair any strands of hair already damaged.
Essential amino acids and flavonoids are excellent at cell renewal and regeneration. Since these are abundant in the marula kernel, it makes the resultant oil—already rich in antioxidants—a phenomenal way to protect hair from environmental damage.
Using it right
There are many ways in which you can get your hands on some marula oil goodness. The easiest way is to buy haircare products already infused with it. As more and more people learn about the goodness of marula oil, haircare brands are eagerly incorporating it in their latest ranges. For example, John Paul Mitchell Systems already has an entire line of Marula Oil haircare products, from shampoos and conditioners to hair masques and rare oil treatments.
Alternatively, you can create oil therapy treatments at home with marula oil as the base. The advantage of this is you can tweak the ingredients and oil amounts based on your hair’s needs. Here’s a marula oil-based hair therapy treatment to get you started:
- Mix 10 tablespoons of marula oil with 5 tablespoons of argan oil and set aside.
- Pour a generous amount of your favourite conditioner into a bowl and whip thoroughly.
- Heat up the marula and argan oil mixture in the microwave (duration will depend on the strength of your microwave, but do take care it doesn’t get sizzling hot). Add it to the conditioner and continue whipping.
- After shampooing, apply the mixture to your hair. Deep-condition under a steamer, without a cap, for 30-45 minutes.
- Rinse it out with lukewarm water.
100% pure marula oil is easily available at numerous e-tail websites. As demand for it grows, you can also expect it to hit brick-and-mortar stores in the near future. Some haircare products may already contain marula oil but do not advertise it—this is why reading the labels on the products you buy is always a good idea.
P.S. Marula oil isn’t just great for your hair, but works wonders for your skin as well.