Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Moringa Oil

Experts say it's a jack-of-all-trades ingredient.

Moringa oleifera.
Moringa oleifera. Photo: © Pedro Acevedo Rodriguez/USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

I want you to picture your holy-grail skincare ingredients. Like us, you’re probably imagining a shelf full of glass bottles and various containers, because skincare takes a lot. The benefits of each bottle most likely do some form of the following: moisturize, clarify, reduce dark spots, have anti-aging benefits, or help build collagen. Now, imagine you could get those skin-enhancing benefits from one source entirely—no more clanking bottles and overflowing bathroom cabinets. Sure, we love a good shelfie as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s good to simplify things. Crazy enough the solution to the various skincare cocktails of oils and moisturizers you've been collecting over time has actually been around for centuries. What is it, you ask? It's called Moringa oil. This all-natural source of skincare greatness is now being praised as an all-around wonder oil, but, it's hardly new on the scene. In fact, it's been used for its health and beauty benefits for centuries. Below, we give you the lowdown on this must-have oil straight from a skincare expert. Keep scrolling for all the info including its origins, what it actually does for your skin, and the Ayurvedic benefits.

It’s Origins:

The moringa tree—also known as the "Miracle Tree" and "Tree of Life"—has many benefits and uses. First and foremost, it's a food source. Most, if not all, of the tree is edible and nutritious. Moringa is being used to combat malnutrition in poor countries and has also been written about in various scientific journals due to its nutritional properties. In addition to being used for food and traditional medicine, various parts of the tree have numerous uses including being a source of fuel and lubricant for machinery.

  • Type of ingredient: Oil.
  • Main benefits: Reduces fine lines and wrinkles, improves the overall appearance of the skin, soothes inflammation.
  • Who should use it: In general, all skin types can benefit from using moringa oil.
  • How often can you use it?: Usage varies depending on the specific product, but in general, moringa oil can be used daily, both AM/PM.
  • Works well with: Moringa oil works well with most ingredients.
  • Don't use with: Moringa oil can be used with most ingredients.

What Is Moringa Oil?

Moringa oil comes from the seeds of the moringa oleifera tree, the most common species of the genus moringa in the flowering plant family moringaceae. The oil is derived from the seeds of Moringa Oleifera, “a small tree referred to as magical,” Tamila Deveny, certified medical esthetician says. While the tree is native to India, it’s now cultivated in the Himalayan region, and in many African, South American, and Asian countries. “Once discovered it soon made its way into Ayurveda, an old traditional India Medicine, (very well known among people who practice yoga) for healing people,” she says.

Moringa oil was also used in Egypt to protect skin from sand and dust whilst traveling in the desert, as it helps heal from sun exposure. It is also used for cooking, perfume, and medicine, and in Rome, the oil was added into creams and cosmetics. It's called the drumstick tree (UK) because of the shape of its seed pods, horseradish tree (US) from the taste of its roots, benzolive tree (Haiti), and nebeday (Senegal). It is a fast-growing tree that thrives even in harsh environments and poor soil and is drought resistant. In Nigeria, it is called the idagbo monoye ("tree which grows crazily").

Meet the Expert

Tamila Deveny is a top-rated medical esthetician working with extensive experience in rejuvenation procedures and skin treatments. Located in Midtown East, She is currently the Head Clinical Esthetician at MDCS: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, overseeing four different offices.

The seeds of the moringa tree are pressed to produce pale-yellow non-drying oil known as "ben oil" or "behen oil" because it has a high concentration of behenic acid, a fatty acid. The antioxidants act as natural preservatives making it a stable oil, resistant to rancidity, and giving it a reported shelf life of five years. The seeds of the moringa tree are also high in Oleic acid, another fatty acid, at 73%, which gives it additional beneficial properties we'll discuss later on. It's also nutrient-dense, high in palmitoleic and linoleic acids, and has vitamins A and C as well.

benefits of moringa oil
 Alison Czinkota/Byrdie

It's Many Uses

Moringa oil is found in numerous cosmetics due to its moisturizing, cleansing, and emollient properties. From shampoo and conditioner to body care products, facial creams, and even perfumes and deodorants, moringa oil is a jack-of-all-trades ingredient that is beneficial from head to toe. It also is commonly used for aromatherapy and in massage oils because it blends well with other essential oils and is a good carrier oil.

Why it Stands Out in Skincare

 Moringa oil has a plethora of benefits for skin-care and is packed full of antioxidants that are hugely beneficial for the skin, Deveny says. It also has great anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.

Deveny says that moringa oil benefits all skin types, especially people with dry and sensitive skin. She says its really great to use it in your skincare routine as it will improve your skin’s general appearance, and give you a radiant glow. She also recommends using moringa oil while traveling, for women post-pregnancy, breast-feeding, or when recovering from surgery. Whenever the body is put under stress and the skin gets dry and very reactive, this oil is very helpful, she says.

Moringa oil stands out in skincare because it's so well absorbed by the skin, which Deveny says is a huge benefit. "We can try and put many oils on our skin, however, if they don’t get well absorbed, then we won’t benefit from them at all," she says.

Moringa oil is often compared to other oils like Argan oil or Olive oil, however, it does more than other oils because its natural composition provides all you need in just one source. "Can you imagine that one oil has all the nutrients and everything you need for your skin, and is also easily absorbed? An oil [that] is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, proteins, and gives you constant hydration, and has flavonoids?" she says, adding, "It’s a dream come true! But that is Moringa oil for you, the perfect combination of everything your skin needs!"

Skincare Benefits

  • Emollient: Moringa oil absorbs easily, while also softening and soothing the skin. Deveny describes emollients as hydrating substances that come in forms of creams, ointments, lotions, and gels. The beneficial properties of emollients help your skin feel comfortable and less itchy, keep the skin hydrated and comfortable, and also helps to prevent cracks, she says. They are especially helpful for individuals suffering from rosacea, psoriasis or just dry skin.
  • Includes skin-healthy nutrients such as Vitamin C, which greatly reduces wrinkles and sunspots, vitamin A which helps build collagen in the skin, and vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help the skin heal from acne and aggressive pollution.
  • Beneficial for dry skin: Moringa oil softens dry skin, and is easily absorbed, maintaining moisture in the skin.
  • It differs from simply applying other antioxidants to your skin, which Deveny says likely won’t be very well absorbed and will only work for a limited amount of time.

Use moringa oil to condition dry lips and other rough, dry skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis.

What It Does in Skincare

  • Reduces redness, swelling, and soreness
  • Treats sunburns, and skin infections
  • Soothes acne, dry skin, or any type of skin inflammation
  • Rejuvenates dull, tired, and aging skin
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Clears blackheads and pimples and prevents blemishes
  • Minimizes dark spots from acne and hyperpigmentation
  • Regulates sebum to prevent any spots from occurring.
  • Lightens acne scars, sunspots, and evens skin tone
  • Fight free-radical damage, which can damage skin tissue
  • Promote cell growth and repairs damaged skin cells

Ayurvedic Medicine and Moringa Oil

  • Analgesic effects allow it to be used as a pain relief oil.
  • Detoxing effects due to its lymphatic properties.
  • It helps lymphatic massages to remove toxins from the body.
  • It benefits the heart, digestive, and circulatory system.

Talk to a Dermatologist If...

“To anyone considering the use of Moringa oil I would advise discussing it with a doctor first. Moringa oil may possess anti-fertility qualities and is therefore not recommended for pregnant women," Deveny says.

While there have been very few side effects and reported reactions, similar to all-natural products, it can of course cause some side effects and allergic reactions. Deveny says it's beneficial for sensitive skin, but recommend patients do a spot test behind the ear and leave it on for 24 hours. If any reaction occurs, discontinue use. She says everyone's skin is unique and it's important to speak with a dermatologist about any concerns. Also, always read the label on the extract and make sure to follow dosage instructions too.

At-Home Moringa Oil Sleep Treatment

DIY this beauty treatment and let it work its magic overnight. In addition to the benefits of moringa oil, which we've detailed above, other ingredients include rosehip oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidants for anti-aging, and vitamin C to help reduce dark spots, scars, and fine lines. Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid (an unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid); it moisturizes the skin, helps treat wrinkles, and reduces dark under-eye circles. Lastly, evening primrose oil contains linoleic acid with anti-inflammatory and skin-healing properties, making it beneficial for skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, and acne (it helps keep pores clear). It also improves blood circulation to rejuvenate tired skin.

Ingredients

  • 1-ounce moringa oil
  • 1-ounce rosehip oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons evening primrose oil
  • 4-5 drops (or 2 teaspoons) castor oil

Directions

Purchase a dropper bottle. Put the ingredients directly inside the bottle and blend together with a stirrer.

Use this treatment before bed by gently massaging the blend onto your face— and don't forget your neck. (For additional antioxidant benefits, you can also add vitamin E from a gel capsule).

Best Products with Moringa Oil

Deveny says the MARA Algae and Moringa Universal Face Oil ($75) is a one of her favorite combinations offering all the benefits in one place. “It’s composition is high in essential fatty acids that plump up the skin and fight free radicals whilst improving the appearance of skin tone,” she says, “Also, it is hypoallergenic and has been clinically tested and dermatologist tested.”

 She also trusts the Moringa Petitgrain Serum Concentrate from Odacite ($46) and says that it has the “highest-grade cold-pressed certified virgin Moringa” to help with skin tone and mature skin. She also says this product is “great for older women” who are experiencing dry skin when going through menopause.

The Aveeno Oat Face Mask with Moringa Seed Extract ($10) is a great detoxifying face mask to refresh, nourish and hydrate skin for a healthy glow. Including a blend of prebiotics, antioxidants and Moringa seeds, Deveny says she keeps this mask nearby after flights or whenever her skin is feeling tired.

The Moringa Renewal Treatment Mask from Emma Hardie ($70) has powerful ingredients like Moringa seed oil, red algae extract, and hyaluronic acid to “protect and correct your skin from damage" while still keeping it nice and moisturized.

Simplicity Pure Moringa Oil from True Moringa ($23) is a 100% cold-pressed oil ideal for daily moisturizing. Deveny says with daily use, this product can reduce skin damage, help dry skin, and aid signs of aging. Add this oil to any of your creams, and set aside time in the morning for a mini face and body massage to start your day.

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