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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.
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?
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
While applying oil to your hair may seem counterintuitive (dry shampoo doesn’t grow on trees, you know), 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. "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." A few drops seals and coats your hair cuticle, eliminating frizz and adding tons of shine. It can also help promote a healthy scalp. "Marula oil will help balance your hair’s natural oils and both hydrate and protect the scalp against free radicals," Gess explains.
How to Apply Marula Oil on Hair
Marula oil can be rubbed onto your hair to treat dry, parched strands, and prevent split ends. 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.
This lightweight oil can be applied directly to the ends of the hair to prevent split ends and massaged into the scalp to support scalp health and hair growth. You can use marula oil as a scalp treatment, a leave-in treatment, or as a heat protectant.
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." And since marula oil has recently gone mainstream, there is a slew of beauty buys that help you incorporate the ingredient into every aspect of your hair routine.
Is Marula Oil Suitable For Any Hair Texture?
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.
Your hair texture determines the best way to use marula oil.
Our Favorite Marula Oil Products
Keep scrolling for our favorite marula oil hair products, from shampoo and conditioner to serum and hair masks.
This pure marula oil is certified organic and can be applied starting at the ends of the hair working towards the scalp for a leave-in treatment that will leave hair vibrant and moisturized. The formula is lightweight, absorbs fast, and can be used from head-to-toe. It's also suitable for all skin types.
This leave-in oil doubles as a styling and conditioning treatment, while reducing frizz, taming flyaways, and adding shine. And don’t worry about weighing down your hair—this lightweight formula is suitable even for thin hair types.
Shampoo and Conditioner
This oil shampoo washes away dirt, sweat, and product buildup without stripping your hair of all its moisture, while the conditioner treats dry, damaged strands. Together, they leave a yummy, fruity, floral scent on your freshly-washed hair.
A few drops of this potent marula oil serum on damp hair will eliminate all traces of frizz on heat-styled or air-dried hair. Plus, with continued use, your strands will feel softer, smoother, and healthier over time.
You keep a face mist at your desk (and if you don't, we suggest you do!), so why not keep a hair mist on deck as well? This on-the-go mist hydrates, revives, and nourishes dry, damaged hair whenever you need it. It even comes with built-in UV protectant to shield your precious locks from harmful rays.
Packed with cold-pressed marula oil, this intensive hair mask smoothes and softens even the driest, most coarse hair types in a single use. Keep in mind, it boasts tons of moisture, so use sparingly on thin hair.