This Hair Ingredient Has 60% More Antioxidants Than Argan Oil

bottle of marula oil

Liz deSousa for BYRDIE

These days, it seems brand new ingredients pop up by the minute—all promising to give you shinier hair, softer ends, and a healthier scalp. Remember when beauty lovers everywhere could be found running to their local Trader Joe’s to stock up on coconut oil by the boatload? Then came argan oil, and everywhere you turned, there was another product infused with the buzzy ingredient. But no matter how many discoveries hit the beauty industry, we can’t not look into an ingredient that promises softer, longer, stronger hair.

The latest ingredient to land on our radar is none other than marula oil. With the rise of its popularity, chances are you’ve already run into some marula-infused products on your last trip to Sephora. But how much do you really know about the trendy ingredient? Allow us to give you a crash course. 

Read on for the full lowdown on what marula oil is, and why it’s good for your hair.

Marula Oil for Hair

Type of ingredient: Moisturizer

Main benefits: Smooths frizz, balances oil production, rich in antioxidants that protect hair

Who should use it: In general, anyone with medium to thick hair, or dry, damaged and brittle hair.

How often can you use it: It's safe to use daily as a heat protectant, or two times a week with your normal shampoo and conditioning routine.

Works well with: There aren't any known ingredients it works particularly well with, but you can layer it with other products that are rich in antioxidants.

Don’t use with: There are no known ingredients that marula oil interacts with.

Meet the Expert

Lindsey Gess is the customer care manager for hair and skincare brand InstaNatural. The personal care brand aims to create natural yet effective products.

What Is Marula Oil?

bottle and dropper of marula oil

Liz deSousa for BYRDIE

The marula fruit tree is native to parts of southern Africa and though it was once a wild and rare grow, these trees are now cultivated to suit all your beauty needs. The marula fruit is a yellow fruit—which looks a lot like a loquat—and contains a hard, brown nut, with white kernels at its core. Its oil is extracted both from these kernels and the nut’s outer husk and boasts a soft fruity, floral scent.

It’s gained a ton of popularity thanks to its light texture, rich moisture content, and non-comedogenic properties. Packed with hydrating and anti-aging amino acids, moisturizing fatty acids—and 60 percent more good-for-you antioxidants than argan oil—marula oil is just what you want sitting on your bathroom counter. 

The Benefits of Marula Oil on Hair

marula oil for hair
Alison Czinkota/Byrdie
  • Lightweight texture: Marula oil’s lightweight texture and fast absorption leaves a satin finish on your strands, without making it look greasy or weighing down your style.
  • Rich in antioxidants: "Marula oil is rich in vitamin C and E, protective antioxidants that nourish and add moisturize to the hair follicles," Gess says. "This helps repair damaged hair and prevents split ends."
  • Smooths frizz: A few drops seals and coats your hair cuticle, eliminating frizz and adding tons of shine. It can also help promote a healthy scalp.
  • Balance oil: "Marula oil will help balance your hair’s natural oils and both hydrate and protect the scalp against free radicals," Gess explains.

Hair Type Considerations

As far as hair texture goes, Gess says those with dry, brittle, or damaged hair or struggling with a flaky and irritable scalp will benefit the most from marula oil. Your hair texture can also play a role in the best way to apply marula oil. "Those with thick, coarse hair may prefer to incorporate a shampoo and conditioner that contains marula oil into their routine whereas those with fine and brittle hair may choose to apply the oil directly onto hair," Gess explains. That said, if you face a serious issue when using marula oil on hair, consult a doctor right away.

How to Apply Marula Oil on Hair

Marula oil is commonly found in health food stores, select beauty stores, as well as from online retailers. The most important thing you want to think about when purchasing is to make sure that you use pure (and organic, if you like) marula oil without any additives.

Using a pure marula oil (without essential oils or additional ingredients) allows hair to reap the full benefits from its potent nutrients and antioxidants.

  • Apply straight to your hair: Marula oil can be rubbed onto your hair to treat dry, parched strands, and prevent split ends.
  • Use as a scalp treatment: Additionally, you can massage it into the scalp (remember, it absorbs quickly and doesn’t clog pores) to reduce dandruff and promote healthy hair. "If you're applying it as a scalp treatment or an all-over treatment, you can rinse with shampoo and conditioner after about 10 to 15 minutes," says Gess.
  • Create a leave-in, heat styling treatment: You can also apply it from roots to ends before heat styling or use it to tame frizz in high humidity. "If you want to leave the oil on the ends of hair, you will want to apply it to washed, damp hair."

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