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Latin name: Sclerocarya birrea

Family: Anacardiaceae (cashew family)



Marula is one of Africa’s largest indigenous plants and still plays an important nutritional and medicinal role for southern and central African peoples. It has always been a part of the lives of the inhabitants of the southern regions of the African continent. For thousands of years, the Bushmen have known well how to use the many parts of this tree:

  • the bark has medicinal properties and is used in the prophylaxis of malaria and for the treatment of intestinal disorders, when chewed it facilitates digestion
  • roasted kernels are known as the food of kings due to their deliciousness
  • leaves are used as a spice or for toppings.


Plant part: the seed

INCI: Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil


A few years ago, the cosmetics industry became interested in oil obtained from marula seeds. The oil attracted attention primarily with its exotic and light texture.

The seeds contain 54% of the oil. Marula oil belongs to the group of oils with high oleic acid content in triglycerides (approx. 70%). Fatty acid composition is also characterised by a significant proportion of saturated acids (palmitic and stearic). As far polyunsaturated fatty acids are concerned, the linoleic, alpha-linolenic and arachidonic are represented in a lesser proportion, very rarely there is also the presence of eicosatrienoic acid. Due to its high vitamin E content, this composition is the main reason that marula oil is classified as a more stable oil. It also contains phytosterols and polyphenols. Polyphenols give the oil extra stability as well as emphasise their beneficial effect on the skin.



For my products I use 100% natural and organically derived marula oil from northern Namibia. There, around 2,000 local women gather in working groups to pick the fruits. Fruits that are fully ripe are picked and peeled. In the pulp of the marula tree fruit is a hard oval, stone of light brown colour. Inside, the stone has 2-3 white kernels or seeds. The stones are washed and dried for subsequent treatment. The pieces are pounded on a stone plate with a stone, which requires quite a bit of practice. When the stone breaks, the kernels are manually removed. The process is time-consuming, as it takes about 24 hours to fill an 800-gram kettle. The kernels are mechanically pressed, and the oil thus obtained is filtered. This ensures the quality and stability of the product that corresponds to the standards of the international cosmetics industry and EU legislation.


Marula oil is a very valuable skin care oil. It contains many important antioxidants (phytosterols, phenols, vitamin E), which are natural allies of our skin, as they contribute to cell renewal and fight the harmful effects of UV rays and pollution.

Regular use of Marula oil provides protection against photoageing, neutralises free radicals, stimulates collagen production and provides antioxidant protection.

Marula oil is rich in essential fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9), which deeply nourish and hydrate the skin (as emollient, the oil increases skin moisture by reducing transdermal water loss) and improves its elasticity and smoothness. The oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and decreases skin redness.

It is ideal for all skin types, oily and dry, and is also useful for sensitive and / or damaged skin due to sun exposure.

The oil reduces the appearance of thin lines and wrinkles, improves and renews skin elasticity, resulting in a brighter skin. The presence of vitamin E increases the production of collagen and elastin, which increases skin tonus, its density and compactness.


  • For the face – The light texture and quick absorbency of marula oil makes it an effective moisturiser for dry and mature skin, as it helps smooth wrinkles and keep the skin hydrated and nourished. It is also an effective lip moisturiser. Since this oil is non-greasy and non-comedogenic, it is also good for oily skin and acne treatment. It has antimicrobial properties and it effectively protects the skin from bacteria that cause the formation of pimples and blackheads. Regardless of skin type, marula oil can be used in the morning as well as in the evening. Marula oil is an excellent ingredient for oil serums and emulsions.
  • For the body – Marula oil is ideal for the body. It prevents the formation of stretch marks, reduces irritation, itching and dryness of the skin. The recommended time for its application is right after a shower and after the skin has been exposed to the sun.
  • As massage oil – Marula oil is an excellent and effective massage oil and can be used in combination with essential oils.
  • For hair – Marula oil helps to nourish the hair from the roots to the tips without making them too oily. It has a moisturising or occlusive effect (prevents water loss), making it useful for dry and brittle hair. The result is soft, supple and shiny hair. Marula oil can be incorporated into shampoos or hair masks before shampooing. Massaged oil into the scalp helps reduce dandruff. When rubbed into the tips of the hair, it helps to eliminate split ends.
  • For nails – Marula oil is very efficient in maintaining beautiful nails, cuticles and can help reduce the appearance of abrasions such as sore and cracked skin around the nails. For this purpose, I add 1% of essential oils (10 drops of grapefruit, 7 drops of lavender, 5 drops of Immortelle and 3 drops of carrot seed) to 100 g of oil. Essential oils additionally nourish, renew and soften the cuticle.

Interesting facts 


The Marula tree is also known as:

  • The King of African Trees – because it is drought-resistant and already for millennia, the indigenous people advantageously use every part of the tree 
  • Tree of the Elephants – elephants feed on its branches and leaves and are especially fond of its delicious and tasty fruit, which, due to the strong and hot sun’s rays becomes fermented and acquire an alcoholic strength,
  • The Marriage Tree – as it is a symbol of fertility; it is believed that women who consume marula fruit get pregnant sooner.

Sources and literature:

  1. Janeš, Damjan in Nina Kočevar Glavač: Sodobna kozmetika, 1. Izdaja, Širimo dobro besedo d.o.o., Velenje 2015
  2. Kaeser, Heike: Naturkosmetische Rohstoffe, Verlag Freya, 5. Auflage, Linz 2016
  3. Marković, Stribor: plantagea.hr
  4. aurumafrica.eu
  5. marula.org.za/index.htm
  6. healthline.com/health/marula-oil-benefits.

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