A Gift to the Skin from Africa
by Casey Durrett, LEI – Social Media Director and National Educator, SkinPhD
Summer is going to be an exciting season with SkinPhd. As we unveil new and wonderfully unique product formulations, users of our products will be introduced to some fantastic ingredients that are sure to become favorites.
As a skin care therapist, I’m constantly reading labels. I read product descriptions and ingredient lists like they were novels. My eyes scan over the often difficult to pronounce ingredients and my brain processes through each one of them in a “This does this, that does that… Oh what’s this?!” sort of fashion, and when I find something I’m unfamiliar with – I research it. Today I’m going to discuss an ingredient that I wasn’t very familiar with until I began working with SkinPhD, but once I learned about it and how it functions in our Renaissance range I quickly became excited. In case you’re unfamiliar with our Renaissance products, they are formulated for the unique needs of skin of color, and Marula oil (today’s featured ingredient) is a key constituent of the Renaissance range.
Marula oil is an extraordinary plant oil, indigenous to regions in Africa including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, and Zambia, Mozambique, and Swaziland.
The Marula tree may grow up to 20 meters in height (about 65 feet), and is found in low altitudes and open woodland areas. The ripened fruit of the Marula tree is yellow to light orange in color with a very thick skin and possesses about 8 times the amount of Vitamin C found in an orange. Inside the fruit are hard-shelled seeds which contain two to three kernels. Marula oil is extracted from these kernels.
The history and uses of Marula have been traced back thousands of years. Marula fruit may be eaten fresh or used to make jellies, juices, and alcoholic beverages. The oil has numerous skin benefits and is used to condition and protect the skin. The bark has been used to treat fever, malaria, scorpion stings and snake bites. The tree is referred to as the “Marriage Tree” by some cultures, and the bark is brewed to create a tonic which is used as part of cleansing ritual prior to marriage ceremonies. The leaves are commonly used to treat heartburn and indigestion while other parts of the tree may be harvested for use in certain tribal ink preparations, for creating dyes for craft wares, and for making rope.
Now that we’ve discovered what the Marula tree is and its many uses, let’s discuss what Marula oil can do for the skin.
Marula oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids. These protective, healthy fats help restore the barrier of the skin leading to increased hydration, elasticity, smoothness, and suppleness of the skin. Marula oil absorbs quickly so it will not leave the skin feeling heavy or greasy. This is a fantastic benefit, as those of us who work with skin well know – our clients who have oily or breakout prone skin often need skin conditioning agents that will reduce trans-epidermal water loss but they will be unhappy with any topical that makes their skin feel greasy or heavy. Marula oil has shown itself to be effective in producing positive, visible improvement in both dry and oily or breakout prone skin.
Marula oil is also rich in antioxidants including tocopherols (Vitamin E), flavanols, condensed tannins, and catechins (similar to those found in green tea).
These antioxidants protect the skin from free radical damage, but the oil has an added benefit that many antioxidants cannot claim: it is highly stable. This means that Marula oil has exceptional resistance to oxidative degradation and easily stays efficacious in product formulations. We skin therapists, recognizing the detrimental activity of free radicals, are always thrilled to hear about the antioxidant properties of given ingredients, but we must also be aware of whether our ingredients have a viable shelf life and whether or not these ingredients degrade quickly once the package has been opened. Marula oil is remarkably stable and will provide your clients with antioxidant protection long after the bottle has been opened.
In addition to the wonderful benefits described above, Marula oil has also been shown to improve the appearance of skin affected by the following conditions:
- Dry / Cracked
- Sun damaged
- Chapped lips
Finally, I’d like to discuss one facet of this ingredient that makes me even happier. Though I may work as a skin therapist, I’m first and foremost a human being – with love in my heart for all the people of the world and all the world’s rich wildlife and geography. Our Marula oil comes from a fair trade, ethically sourced, and environmentally sustainable supply chain. That’s great news to me, and I’m sure it is to you too!
For more information on Skin PhD products, technologies, and signature therapies, please visit www.skinphd.com.