You know that friend you have who drives you a little crazy because she’s good at literally everything? The Marula tree is that friend in the plant world.

Marula Nut from Marula Tree

Referred to as the “Tree of Life” in southern Africa, it really does it all: The fruit contains protein-rich kernels, can be juiced or turned into jam, is used to make traditional beer and wine, creates economic value for communities, and produces an oil that is incredibly nutritious, both when eaten and slathered on the skin. (We’re not even getting into how people use the bark and leaves.) In multiple cultures, marula oil is so revered it’s given as a gift or used in ceremonies to mark new life—and new mothers use it on themselves and their babies.[1]

Whether you’ve got a little one who needs to be slathered in moisture or are just looking for a smoother, glowing complexion, this is why marula oil belongs in your beauty routine.

M is for Moisture

The marula tree grows in both tropical and subtropical zones across the African continent, in countries like Gambia, Nigeria, Namibia, and South Africa. In the same family as the mango, cashew, and pistachio trees, it produces a small green fruit that turns yellow after it falls from the tree and ripens. The fruit is tart and juicy and high in nutrients like vitamin C, and inside is a large, hard nut with edible kernels—and the valued oil.

For ages, local populations have used the oil for various topical purposes. Women in the Limpopo region of South Africa massage their babies with it and moisturize their faces, feet, and hands.[2]  In Namibia, Owambo women use it on their whole body as a moisturizer and apply it to brides during wedding ceremonies. It’s even mixed with millet as a traditional exfoliator, and anecdotal evidence suggests it’s used by some populations to prevent stretch marks.[3]

Africa Marula Oil Tree

The Olive Oil of Africa?

In the past, local women used it based on the results they could see and feel, but the available scientific research backs up marula oil’s many effects.

Marula is comparable to olive oil in its fatty acid makeup, particularly the high content of oleic acid.[4] (It kind of makes sense, right? In the Mediterranean, olive oil is equally precious.) Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that is uber moisturizing. It also has powerful antioxidant properties, and marula oil contains additional antioxidants, like flavonoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C. (Hello, anti-aging benefits!)

Beauty gurus also have special love for marula because it tends to be less oily compared to other oils. That may sound silly, but basically, it absorbs quickly into the skin, delivering nutrients rapidly without clogging pores or leaving a greasy (ahem, unattractive) film.

The importance of marula also extends to how it benefits people in African countries. According to one study on its impact and potential for southern African communities, “Marula has frequently been identified as a key species to support the development of enterprises,” thanks to its multiple uses, ability to grow in different soils, and how (literally) fruitful it is.[5] For instance, a single tree can provide between 21,000 and 91,000 easy-to-harvest fruits in one great season.

So, yes, there’s plenty to go around, and it’s definitely time to experience how marula can benefit your beauty routine, via LXMI's Nilotica Body Velour.

Marula Nuts


[1] Welford, L., Jara, M.E.A., Gericke,N., 2008. Tree of Life: The Use of Marula Oil in Southern Africa,79. American Botanical Council, HerbalGram, pp.32–41

[2] Lall, Namrita & Kishore, Navneet. (2014). Are plants used for skin care in South Africa fully explored?. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 153. 10.1016/j.jep.2014.02.021.

[3] Welford, L., Jara, M.E.A., Gericke,N., 2008. Tree of Life: The Use of Marula Oil in Southern Africa,79. American Botanical Council, HerbalGram, pp.32–41

[4] A O Ojewole, John & Mawoza, Tariro & D H Chiwororo, Witness & Owira, Peter. (2009). Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich) Hochst. ['Marula] (Anacardiaceae): A Review of its Phytochemistry, Pharmacology and Toxicology and its Ethnomedicinal Uses. Phytotherapy research: PTR. 24. 633-9. 10.1002/ptr.3080.


[5] C. Mokgolodi, Neo & Ding, You-fang & Setshogo, Moffat & MA, CHAO & Liu, Yujun. (2011). The importance of an indigenous tree to southern African communities with specific relevance to its domestication and commercialization: A case of the marula tree. Forestry Studies in China. 13. 36-44. 10.1007/s11632-011-0110-1.

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