Marula-oil-in-a-bottle

 

 

 

Marula oil

Aug 6, 2023 | Ingredients

MARULA OIL

1. WHAT IS MARULA OIL AND WHERE IS IT USED?

Marula oil is obtained from the seeds of African wild tree Scelocarya birrea (Anacardiaceae). The tree grows plum like fruit with hard brown seeds that have a soft white kernel which is used to extracting the oil. The tree itself can grow from 7 to 17 meters and grows in savannahs. The fruits have a pale yellow color when they are ripe and have a similar taste to mango.

The marula tree has multiple uses – the fruits are eaten fresh and be used to make beer while the kernels are used to extract oil. The leaves are used to feed the livestock and have some other medicinal uses.

Marula-fruits
dried-marula-fruits

The nuts of the marula fruits are comprised of 90% shell and 10% kernel and only the kernel is used to extract the oil. But even with this low amount of kernel the oil yield is quite impressive – around 53%. There are usually two to three kernels found in the seed which is covered with very thick woody hulls.

The oil itself is used in cosmetic preparations or alone to soften the skin, protect the skin from dehydration and maintain the skin tone and elasticity. In the hair care it used to nourish, soften the hair fibers. When used on hair fibers it gives them satiny, non greasy finish. 

Marula-oil-in-a-bottle

2. FATTY ACID PROFILE OF MARULA OIL

Fatty acid composition of the oil highly depends on the season and when the fruits were harvested. The oil yield is better when the fruits are harvested at the end of the harvesting time.

But mainly the oil contains oleic acid (omega-9), palmitic, linoleic and stearic acids. The one that I have has about:

Oleic acid (C18:1) – 72%,

Palmitic acid (C16:0) – 12%,

Linoleic acid (C18:2) – 8%, 

Stearic acid (C18:0) – 6%.

marula-fatty-acids

Due to the quite high amount of saturated fatty acids (palmitic and stearic) in the oil, one can see precipitation in the oil in the lower temperatures. 

The amount of tocopherols (forms of vitamin E) in the marula oil decreases dramatically during the harvesting time and ant limits the amount of tocopherols. If you are interested what tocopherols do in cosmetic formulations, you can read more about them here.

However, marula has about 287mg/100g oil of sterols and the majority (about 60%) of them is beta-sitosterol. This compound soothes irritated skin, speeds up wound healing, skin recovery and protects from bacterial infection. The other major sterol here is delta5-avenasterol (about 16%) which is known to act as an antioxidant.

Marula-oil-in-a-beaker-2
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3. Basic properties of marula oil

INCI Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil
Function It is an emollient that soothes irritated, mature skin, smoothes hair fibers
Usage rate 1-100%
Origin From the kernels of Sclerocarya Birrea seeds
Appearance Yellow a bit viscous liquid
Iodine value 70-80
Solubility Oil
Skin type All skin types, but mainly mature, irritated skin
Shelf life Store somewhere in a cool, dark and dry environment. Depending on what supplier says, it could be up to 1, 2 or even 5 years.
When to include it Can be processed cold or hot
How much do you need it? 50-100g (1.7-3.3 oz.) would be enough as it is quite expensive oil
Alternatives The closest to fatty acid profile is olive oil, but argan oil, rosehip, moringa oils may work as well.

4. APPEARANCE AND SKIN FEEL OF MARULA OIL

Depending on the room temperature marula oil can look cloudy, with some precipitations or a clear liquid. The cloudiness and precipitation come the fatty acids that make up the oil.  The oil itself is a bit thick, it does not flow like caprylic/capric triglycerides.

The absorption rate of marula oil is average and I still feel the oil lingering on my skin. The glide is not the best, but it does feel quite nice on the skin while rubbing it. That lingering feel and not the best glide comes mainly from fatty acids such as palmitic and stearic as they can feel this way when used alone.

Also, the oil has a bit nutty, caramel scent, so it does feel while applying and may linger for a while.

Pracaxi-oil
Pracaxi-and-marula-oils

5. STABILITY OF THIS OIL AND HOW TO WORK WITH IT

Depending on the raw material and extraction process it can be stable from up to 1 year to up to 5 years. The long shelf life can be explained by fatty acid composition, antioxidants (tocopherols) and some other minor components in the oil.

It is said that marula oil has similar fatty acid composition to olive oil, but it is 10 times more stable to oxidation than olive oil.

Also, marula oil has a low iodine value that shows it is a stable oil and can be heated without any problems.

6. WHAT CAN YOU MAKE WITH MARULA OIL?

Because of high oleic fatty acid composition it is not very recommended to use the oil alone, but mix it with other oils. However, it is very useful for irritated, mature skin. Here are some examples what can be made with marula oil.

  • Face serums
  • Body oils
  • Body butters
  • Lotions
  • Hair masks
  • Lip balms
  • Nail oils
  • Conditioners
Marula-oil-in-a-beaker

7. WHERE CAN YOU BUY IT?

This oil is a bit harder to find, unlike grapeseed oil, sunflower oil or almond oil. But you can still purchase it from several suppliers (and here is not the definite list, please search it on your own).

It would be best to buy it virgin, not deodorized, or refined, because the virgin version will have the highest amount of phytosterols, tocopherols and other compounds.

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