Marula Oil

  • Base Oil
  • INCI: Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Oil
  • Comedogenicity: 3-4
  • Composition: Oleic acid (up to approx. 76 %), palmitic acid (up to approx. 11 %), stearic acid (up to approx. 6 %), linoleic acid (approx. 4 %).
  • Cosmetic use: Dry, sensitive skin.

Ton Rulkens from Mozambique [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


The marula tree, also called elephant tree, can grow up to 20 m tall. It has an expansive crown of alternate, pinnate leaves that grow tufted at the branches. The unisexual, white to pink flowers grow in numbers of four to five. They flower from January when the tree is still bare, before its leaves appear. Between April and June the tree forms stone fruits, which are yellow when ripe and about 3-4 cm in size. A single tree can bear up to two thousand fruits. The round-edged stone core of the fruit contains chambers where the oily seeds are located. The tree is used very versatilely. The bark, roots and leaves are used in Africa to produce medicine for diseases such as diarrhea or malaria prophylaxis. Drinks are made from the pulp and vegetable oil is extracted from the seeds.

Extraction of Marula Oil

Marula oil is obtained from the seeds of the Marula tree and has a neutral aroma. The seeds must first be laboriously removed from the flesh by hand and are then cold pressed and filtered. In Namibia, the inhabitants crush the seeds to extract the oil, pour them into boiling water and skim the oil off the surface.

Cosmetic use of Marula Oil

Marula oil is often used as a base oil for cosmetic preparations due to its special heat insensitivity and stability. With its high oleic acid content, the oil is particularly suitable for dry, stressed and sensitive skin. It has a lipogenous effect and protects the lipid layer of the skin so that the skin remains moisturized and does not dry out. It penetrates well into the skin and leaves it feeling soft and pleasant. Its protective and nourishing properties soothe and smooth the skin. The neutral odour of the oil also makes it a suitable carrier oil for essential oil mixtures.