Is marula oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?

Marula oil has been around for centuries. Zulu women used marula oil as a beauty treatment and it’s still widely used in South Africa and Mozambique. This ‘magical oil’ largely flew under the radar until Drunk Elephant and other luxury brands marketed the crap out of it.

Marula oil first came to my attention in 2018 when I heard Brandon Truaxe from Deciem dissed Drunk Elephant for selling the same marula oil that The Ordinary was selling for more than double the price.

But I digress. Let’s get back to what’s really important. Is marula oil good for seb derm?

Alas, no. Marula oil may have loads of skin benefits but it’s super high in oleic acid – up to 70-80%. Oleic acid not only feeds Malassezia but also plays a role in causing more inflammation on seb derm-prone skin.   

If you’re looking for a face oil that doesn’t flare seb derm, check out these skin oils that are safe for seborrheic dermatitis. 

If you’re the nerdy type and want to know more about why I’m against marula oil and the one way you can use it safely if you have seb derm, read on:

What is marula oil?

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil - Gluten-Free and Vegan Anti-Aging Skin Care and Face Moisturizer (30 mL / 1 Fl Oz)Check it out on Amazon

Marula Oil is a light yellow oil derived from the Sclerocarya birrea botanical, also known as the Marula Tree. It has a long history of use in Africa, where it is referred to as “the tree of life” and is celebrated in ceremonies.

Marula oil is known for its fast-absorbing and lightweight properties, and is used as an ingredient in many beauty products. The oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols, and amino acids, which provide a range of skin, hair, and health benefits, including reducing the appearance of maturing skin, calming acne-prone skin, strengthening hair against damage, and diminishing the appearance of scars and stretch marks.

Skin benefits of marula oil

The Ordinary 100% Cold-pressed Virgin Marula Oil 30ml (Pack of 2)Check it out on Amazon

Marula oil contains a truckload of skin-loving compounds, including fatty acids, antioxidants, L-arginine, glutamic acid, and vitamins E and C. It’s rich in linoleic and oleic acid, which helps to hydrate and moisturize the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and stretch marks.

Its antioxidant properties help to fight free radicals and reduce skin damage caused by environmental toxins and pollutants. It’s a great occlusive moisturizer and can help to reduce redness, itching, dryness, and the severity of conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Marula oil also helps to balance the body’s pH levels, regulate oil production, and reduce the appearance of acne scars, making it an effective acne treatment.

Marula oil can also be used as a lip moisturizer. Awesome.

Bodyography Exfoliating Lip Duo: Exfoliating and Conditioning Lip Scrub with Powerful Antioxidant Marula Oil | Soothes and Protects Lips | Gluten-Free, Cruelty-FreeCheck it out on Amazon

Why is marula oil bad for seb derm?

It’s a shame that despite all marula oil’s skin-loving goodies, it’s contains up to 80% oleic acid. In fact, marula oil is literally made up of only long-chain fatty acids!

Marula oil is Malassezia’s favorite food!

Plus, seb derm affected skin is sensitive to oleic acid. The oil can cause more inflammation, leading to a decreased skin barrier and seb derm flare.

There are no studies confirming whether marula oil is good or bad for seb derm. While the scientific research into marula oil is still lacking and more research is needed, it doesn’t take much digging to figure out marula oil is bad for seb derm (probably why no one wants to do any research on it in seb derm).

Yes, marula oil is on my list of oils to avoid in seb derm.

If you’re looking for safe skin oils, check out this list. And if you’re looking for essential oils that are good for seb derm, check out the 19 best essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis.

Is marula oil good for dandruff?

Marula oil is packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and fatty acids that may help nourish the scalp and hair. Marula oil is often used in hair oils and hair conditioners to help prevent split ends and keep hair silky and soft.

Healthline even recommends massaging marula oil into your scalp to prevent dandruff. However, this is not backed by any evidence.

I’ve not found any studies on marula oil and dandruff. If you have dandruff purely due to extreme scalp dryness, marula oil will probably help with that.

If you have dandruff due seb derm of your scalp, based on what we already know about the components of marula oil, causes of seb derm and triggers, marula oil will probably make your dandruff worse.

How can I use marula oil safely when I have seb derm?

Theoretically, seb derm can affect any area of your skin that produces sebum. However, it tends to occur on your face, neck, scalp, and upper body. If you have dry legs and arms, and really want to use marula oil on those areas, feel free to try it.

If you’ve never had a seb derm flare in those areas, marula oil is not going to magically trigger it to occur.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Your skin may feel a little bit irritated and itchy from the oil. If this occurs, stop using it and you’re back where you started.

There are plenty of brands selling marula oil and prices range from super cheap to really expensive. Make sure you buy from a trustable brand so you know you’re getting the right thing. The Ordinary’s prices are very reasonable and if you don’t mind spending a bit more, Drunk Elephant is also a trustworthy brand.

The Ordinary 100% Cold-pressed Virgin Marula Oil 30ml (Pack of 2)Check it out on Amazon

What about ingesting marula oil?

Edible marula oil has been documented to contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, which can help to reduce inflammation and skin dryness. It also helps to improve blood lipid levels, helping to restore balance to the skin.

Marula oil is a healthy alternative to saturated oil and is considered a delicacy in Africa. Even with seb derm, you can safely consume marula oil as part of a balanced diet.

However, it’s expensive and hard to find edible marula oil outside of Africa. If you have the extra money to spend, you’re probably better off buying more high quality cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil to cook with.

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