Marula Oil For Hair: Benefits, Uses & Safety 2023

Jennifer Olejarz

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

marula oil for hair
Marula oil is rich in antioxidants and moisturizing fatty acids.

You know how awesome it feels to have a great hair day? Imagine having that feeling every day  — because marula oil might help you do just that! 

Marula oil for hair is trending thanks to its unique nutrition content that keeps your scalp and hair moisturized and nourished. 

So, are you ready to find out more about this exclusive product from the heart of Southern Africa? Read on to learn how exactly marula oil can benefit your hair, how to use it, and which brands are best.

Is Marula Oil Good For Hair?

Yes, marula oil is great for hair health. 

Its unique blend of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins makes it a potent hair care product great for regular use. 

Marula oil works best to moisturize and nourish the scalp and hair. With its ability to penetrate the hair shaft and skin easily, it works to prevent dry hair, boost nutrition availability, soothe scalp issues, and heal damaged hair.

What Is Marula Oil?

Marula oil comes from the seeds of the Marula fruit tree. It’s native to southern Africa and is just gaining popularity worldwide thanks to its rich nutritional composition and benefits for hair and skin. It’s actually related to the mango, cashew, and pistachio tree — and those are some of the most nutrient-dense fruits and nuts available. 

Like many natural oils, it also has an abundance of essential fatty acids,[1] antioxidants, and vitamins. But what makes this African oil unique is its high amount of oleic acid[2] or omega-9 fatty acid. This fatty acid makes it extremely stable, so it won’t go rancid quickly. And with its stability and high amount of antioxidants, it can strengthen the skin barrier function and prevent your skin from losing water. That means your skin doesn’t go dry and flaky as quickly as it normally would. 

Finally, it uses the cold-pressed method to extract the oil from the seeds, preserving its nutritional components best. 

Marula Oil For Hair Benefits

With its abundance of oleic acid and ability to absorb quickly and deeply into the skin, marula oil offers many benefits for your hair health. 

Moisturizes And Nourishes Hair

This is a deeply moisturizing[3] and nourishing oil thanks to its rich fatty acid composition. It can hydrate and replenish dry, brittle hair because it easily penetrates the hair shaft. It seals in moisture while simultaneously preventing moisture loss. That means you get softer, smoother, and more manageable hair. 

Protects Hair From Damage

Marula oil has powerful antioxidants that protect skin and hair from damage caused by free radicals and environmental stressors. It’s rich in vitamin E, or tocopherol,[4] which can neutralize harmful molecules that work to break down the proteins in the hair. This reduces the risk of breakage, frizz, and hair full of split ends. 

Treats Scalp Issues

Marula oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can benefit your skin and your hair. Applying it to the scalp can soothe irritation while reducing itching, redness, and inflammation. Its ability to penetrate the skin quickly helps to keep it moisturized and alleviates dry scalp problems. It also creates a better environment that promotes hair growth since there’s more moisture and nutrients being provided to the scalp and hair cuticles. 

Great For All Hair Types

One of marula oil’s most unique characteristics is just how lightweight it is. You don’t have to worry if you have fine and thin hair, this oil’s got you covered for every haircare need without that greasy look. 

It even helps to balance your scalp and hair’s natural oils, which means you get added hydration without excess oiliness. 

How To Use Marula Oil For Haircare

There are a few ways to use marula oil for healthy hair. But first, look out for high-quality pure marula oil products for hair. Many are sustainably sourced and produced in Southern Africa — these are high-quality oils and a socially responsible choice that promotes ethical and eco-friendly practices. 

Pre-Shampoo Treatment

Using marula oil as a pre-shampoo treatment allows for deep nourishment and hydration of the hair before cleansing. 

Start by applying a few drops of marula oil to the scalp and hair, massaging it gently to ensure even distribution. Leave it on for about 15-30 minutes, or even overnight, for a more intense treatment that allows the oil to penetrate deeply and moisturize the hair strands.  

Leave-In Conditioner

A leave-in conditioner with marula oil can provide ongoing hydration and protection throughout the day. 

After washing and conditioning your hair, towel dry it until it’s damp but not dripping wet. Take a few drops of marula oil in your palms, rub them together, and then spread the oil evenly through the lengths and ends of your hair. This will help seal moisture, tame frizz, and give a smooth and shiny finish. You can leave the oil in without rinsing and style your hair as desired.

Hair Mask

Marula oil isn’t usually used as a hair mask as with other oils, like coconut or argan oil. That’s because it’s super lightweight — but that doesn’t mean you can’t add it as an ingredient to a nourishing night mask. 

Mix 2 tablespoons of marula oil with one ripe, mashed avocado, a tablespoon of honey, and another tablespoon of plain yogurt. Apply it to damp, wet hair, working from your roots to your ends. Make sure to massage it into your scalp and throughout all your strands. 

Then, cover your hair with a shower cap and leave it on for at least 30 minutes to an hour. After, rinse your hair, then shampoo and condition as usual. Your hair should feel soft, silky, and easy to manage after this nourishing mask. 

Styling To Tame Frizz

You can use marula oil as a styling product to tame frizz and add shine to your dry hair. 

After blow-drying or heat styling, warm a small amount of marula oil between your palms. Gently apply it to the ends of your hair, where the frizz and breakage usually are. 

Ensure not to put the oil close to the roots since that will weigh down your hair. Applying it just to the ends will control flyaways and give that a glossy finish without the greasy look.

Side Effects & Safety

Marula oil is considered safe for most people,[1] including those with sensitive skin. Of course, you should always put a small amount on a skin patch to test it before applying it in larger amounts, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

You might be allergic or sensitive if you notice any redness, spots, or rashes. In that case, stop using the oil and contact a certified dermatologist. 

Conclusion

So, is marula oil good for hair and worth giving a try? Yes! 

Its high fatty acid and antioxidant content moisturizes your hair deeply and provides nutrients to your scalp to promote healthy hair. It even protects your hair from damage, soothes scalp issues, and tames frizz. Overall, all-natural marula oil for hair growth and strength is one of the best options for your hair. 

And unlike other oils, it has a lightweight texture — so it works well for every hair type. 

You can use it as a pre-shampoo treatment, or leave-in conditioner, or add some to your ends to tame any flyaways and frizz. 

In the end, if you use marula oil every week, you’ll likely notice more shine and strength within a few weeks or months — it all depends on your hair type and just how regularly you add it to your haircare routine. 

Finally, make sure to buy skin and hair marula oil products that are sustainably sourced to promote ethical working conditions in Southern Africa, where its made.


+ 4 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. B Komane, Ilze Vermaak, Summers, B. and Viljoen, A.M. (2015). Safety and efficacy of Sclerocarya birrea (A.Rich.) Hochst (Marula) oil: A clinical perspective. [online] 176, pp.327–335. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2015.10.037.
  2. Cabdirect.org. (2019). Restricted Content. [online] Available at: https://www.cabdirect.org/globalhealth/abstract/20173140433
  3. Ibrahim, J.S., Adamu, H.M. and Shakede, O.I. (2020). Antibacterial Activity of Marula [Sclerocarya Birrea] and Brominated Marula Seed Oil. Volume 5 – 2020, Issue 8 – August, 5(8), pp.1120–1124. doi:https://doi.org/10.38124/ijisrt20aug668.
  4. Nih.gov. (2020). Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/
Jennifer Olejarz

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Jennifer Olejarz is a Certified Nutritionist and Health Counselor specializing in binge and emotional eating, stress management, and mental health. She has almost a decade's worth of experience in the health and wellness field writing health articles, guides, and books, along with creating health and nutrition courses. She works one-to-one with private clients to build healthier lifestyle habits and end the lifelong battle of food guilt and diet frustrations. She has degrees in both Psychology and Nutrition from Western University, Canada.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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