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Face oils are great for your skin. You may already be familiar with some that are most often used in skincare - like jojoba oil, squalane, and marula oil.
But there might be some lesser-known - but equally effective - oils that you don’t know about. One example is sunflower seed oil. And another one of those under-the-radar power players? Tamanu oil.
Here’s everything you need to know about tamanu oil uses, benefits, and history.
Tamanu oil (or calophyllum inophyllum seed oil) is otherwise referred to as “green gold” or “beauty leaf oil.” It’s pressed from the fruit kernel of the tamanu nut tree, a tropical evergreen tree endemic to Southeast Asia. Its oil is bluish-yellow to dark green and viscous.
Though you may have never heard of it before, tamanu oil is certainly not the new kid on the block. It’s been used for medicinal purposes by Asian, African, and Pacific Island cultures for centuries.
The oil has a strong, deep, earthy smell with nutty notes. It’s been compared to the smell of curry and old books. Some people adore this smell, but others don't. Since our focus is on skincare, the tamanu oil benefits for skin outweigh any issues you may have with its smell.
The smell can be removed through the refining process, but this also eliminates some of its potent skin-supporting properties. For that reason it’s best to use cold-pressed tamanu oil.
Tamanu oil hyperpigmentation treatments have been known and used for centuries. The oil has been utilized by cultures of the Pacific islands for generations to treat various skin conditions including scrapes, cuts, burns, bites, psoriasis, acne, dry skin, and even diaper rash.
Polynesian communities learned by observation that the oil helps with the development of new body tissue and stimulates circulation. These important realizations encouraged them to use it to help treat skin discoloration and related concerns.
In most South Sea islands, tamanu oil is used by natives to treat rheumatism, and sciatica. In the Philippines, the oil is also used to light night lamps in the coastal areas of Luzon island.
Its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant components - along with the oil's skin-healing abilities - make tamanu oil a great addition to any skincare routine. Because of its antimicrobial properties, this oil is also used to treat infected wounds.
Studies have confirmed the wound healing and antimicrobial effects of tamanu oil - which means it’s a potential source for new antibiotics and for fighting multi-drug resistant bacteria in skin infections.
Tamanu oil also offers natural protection from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays. One study concluded that the oil has both cytoprotective and antioxidant properties which contribute to a natural UV filter. More studies must be done before it can be used as a sunscreen, but it appears that tamanu oil offers an SPF of 18-22 depending on specific variables.
Tamanu oil’s rich fatty acid content makes it an extra effective occlusive. It works as a barrier to lock in the active ingredients from your skincare products as well as the skin’s moisture. This also helps restore a damaged skin barrier, which is critical to looking your best and preventing skin irritation. These benefits and the oil’s antibacterial properties are especially important for people who struggle with dry skin and acne.
If you or a member of your family are dealing with a rash - including diaper rash or rash caused by frequent dry brushing - tamanu oil can help. The fatty acids it contains, in particular, provide moisturizing benefits. They soothe the skin and accelerate the healing process - an ideal combination for rash treatment. This can also be used as an alternative to almond oil.
While tamanu oil shouldn’t be used on the eyes directly, it does work well in under-eye creams. Since it seals in moisture, it can help prevent the fine lines that often form in the sensitive skin beneath and around the eyes.
Your skin is constantly regenerating itself. However, this amazing natural process slows down as you get older. Part of that is a reduction in the amount of collagen that your body produces. Less collagen means saggier skin, a clear sign of aging.
One key benefit of tamanu oil for skin is that it stimulates collagen production. This leads to youthful, firm skin that is resistant to wrinkles and fine lines.
While the aging process is still not understood entirely, researchers have found that free radicals contribute to it. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons. That makes them unstable and allows them to react with other molecules very easily. Some of these reactions are detrimental to overall health, while others are related to what we know as the aging process. Free radicals are also a major contributor to oxidative stress in the body, which leads to a variety of damage and negative health outcomes.
Antioxidants, however, are able to reduce oxidative stress and eliminate free radicals. This contributes to a slower aging process and overall better health. In fact, research shows that antioxidants can dramatically reduce the effects of the aging process and limit a person’s risk for developing a variety of serious illnesses related to older age.
Tamanu oil for face contains antioxidants, so using it regularly can help your skin stay healthy and youthful. While it may not be the mythical Fountain of Youth, it does have anti-aging properties that are backed up by science.
For your skin to truly glow, it needs to be healthy and hydrated. Glowing skin is fresh, clean, and supple without blemishes or acne scars. And that’s where tamanu oil comes in. Its hydrating, skin healing properties ensure that your skin is always hydrated and protected against foreign invaders that could cause irritation or blemishes.
The healing properties of tamanu oil allow it to reduce inflammation and hydrate the skin. This is especially important in the case of healing a burn - or a sunburn. Tamanu oil helps create a new skin layer on the wound and supports the body’s natural healing process.
Tamanu oil has a medium absorption level and leaves the skin slightly oily when applied. Its bioactive composition allows it to benefit all of your skin’s different layers once it has been absorbed. So the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous skin layers all get tamanu oil working on the cellular level to protect, heal, and hydrate.
Tamanu oil for skin is considered a carrier oil. That means that it can dilute essential oils, enhance their beneficial properties, and make them more easily absorbed by the skin. That’s excellent if you want to get the full benefits of your skin oils.
Since the strong, nutty tamanu oil smell isn’t everyone’s favorite, it’s very convenient that this is a carrier oil. When used with other aromatic oils, its smell is covered up and masked. That makes it more enjoyable to use if the smell is an issue for you.
The biological composition of tamanu oil gives it both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. That’s excellent for your skin - it calms irritation and can even relieve the pain associated with some skin conditions. Tamanu oil for acne flare ups is effective since acne is often caused by a combination of bacterial growth and inflammation.
This powerful oil is not a one trick pony. It has a variety of uses that can help you enjoy better skin. Here are some ways that tamanu oil can be used as a skin treatment.
Tamanu oil is ultra-effective for healing acne and calming acne-related redness. Plus, its ability to heal skin and stimulate collagen makes it effective at treating scars. The source of its anti-inflammatory properties are in the calophylloide molecule.
One study published in 2015 proved the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of tamanu oil. It was found to accelerate wound closure and diminish bacteria growth. Research also confirmed that the oil fights the growth of Propionibacterium acnes and Propionibacterium granulosum, both of which are bacteria that play a role in triggering acne breakouts.
If something is comedogenic, it tends to clog the pores. That’s important when it comes to skincare since you want to use products with ingredients that are easily absorbed by the skin without clogging pores.
Tamanu oil is slightly comedogenic; it’s rated 2 on the comedogenic scale. This scale goes from 0-5, from non-clogging to highly likely to clog pores. A 2 has a very low chance of clogging pores or causing breakouts.
Since tamanu oil promotes collagen production and encourages new tissue growth, it’s able to help reduce the appearance of acne scars. It fades visible scars on the face and body, but it can’t do so overnight. With consistent use and a bit of patience, you can use tamanu oil for scars to help fade and minimize scars, acne marks, and stretch marks.
Stretch marks are a very common part of pregnancy and do not always disappear after giving birth. Many people search for solutions to their stretch marks but fading them successfully is not always easy.
Tamanu oil moisturizes the skin and promotes collagen production, so it can prevent stretch marks from appearing when applied regularly during pregnancy over the course of 2-3 months. It can be applied directly to the skin by itself or combined with other ingredients such as jojoba oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter. This is confirmed by a study published in September 2018 that found the value of tamanu oil when used in cosmetic formulas.
If you struggle with rosacea, you know how difficult to treat it can be. Perhaps you, like many, have turned to cosmetic products and skin procedures in an effort to reduce rosacea flare ups.
Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that causes redness and flushing. It can make blood vessels visible, thicken the skin, and cause pustules to form. Since tamanu oil helps soothe the skin and reduces irritation, it can be an effective part of your rosacea treatment.
Apply a few drops of the oil directly on your skin and massage it in gently. This can be done twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. If you prefer, you can mix the tamanu oil directly with your face moisturizer and apply them together.
Not sure about psoriasis vs eczema vs rosacea and how to treat each? If you’re experiencing persistent skin irritation or redness and aren’t sure what’s causing it, it’s best to visit your dermatologist. They can help you understand what the underlying issue is and recommend the best treatment plan.
Melasma is a skin condition that is characterized by dark spots and patches on the face. Tamanu seed oil can be used to treat melasma, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation thanks to its beneficial properties.
To use tamanu oil for melasma or dark spots, apply a few drops of the oil directly to your skin or combine it with your moisturizer. You can apply it once or twice daily. Be aware that, while effective, it won’t cause immediate results. So be consistent and use the oil for at least 3 months. In some cases it can take up to a year or more to see significant results.
What about treating nail fungus? A tamanu oil and skin active properties study confirmed the antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal protection offered by this remarkable oil. Apply a drop or two to your affected nail and massage the oil in gently to help prevent and fight the growth of nail fungus. Again, consistency in application is key to see the desired results.
Based on evidence from some studies, there is potential for using tamanu oil eczema and psoriasis treatments. It has been used traditionally for these purposes throughout the islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Many people have found anecdotal success with it. However, there isn’t yet a solid body of research to confirm that tamanu oil will reduce inflammation from psoriasis.
The many tamanu oil benefits for skin also extend to the lips. If you have dry, cracked, or sour lips, this powerful oil can help restore them to their healthy, natural condition.
To get the benefits, rub a drop or two of tamanu oil onto your lips each night before bed. Don’t overdo it - you want to use enough to coat the lips in a thin layer of oil. You should not leave a lot of excess oil on your lips.
Tamanu oil benefits for skin come from its diverse mix of omega fatty acids - including oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid.
Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is present in tamanu oil. Linoleic acid skincare includes the following benefits:
Similarly, oleic acid can:
This also explains why many people use tamanu oil for hair and scalp rejuvenation.
Palmitic acid has emollient properties. It’s the most common saturated fatty acid and is rich in beneficial antioxidants.
Stearic acid in tamanu oil is known primarily for its cleansing properties. It can also:
All of these tamanu oil benefits, of course, translate to visibly improved skin.
In order to derive the most benefit from this oil, you need to know how to use tamanu oil correctly. Remember, it’s a carrier oil, not an aromatic oil. Here are some ways you can use tamanu oil at home and add it to your beauty routine:
Another way to include tamanu oil in your routine is to choose skincare products that feature it as a key ingredient.
Tamanu oil should be stored in a cool, dark place where it won’t be exposed to sunlight. It can be kept in the refrigerator for long term storage, but be aware that it becomes solid when allowed to remain at cold temperatures. So you’ll need to take it out and bring it to room temperature before you can use it on your skin. For the best results, store it in a glass bottle.
Use the best tamanu oil products to maximize this ingredient’s benefits for your skin on a regular basis.
Our vitamin C moisturizer cream is made with tamanu oil, vitamin C, MSM, and jojoba oil to deliver antioxidants to your skin and fight the aging process. It also helps repair acne scars and reduce wrinkles - both of which are tamanu oil skin benefits. For the best results, use it each morning and evening after applying serum. Massage it gently in an upward motion on the face and neck until it’s fully absorbed.
Use our anti-aging eye cream to brighten and smooth the sensitive skin in this area. Its formula includes tamanu oil, cocoa butter, squalane, MSM, and cucumber hydrosol - all of which work together to eliminate puffiness, lines, and dark circles. Dab it gently under and around the eyes without pulling or tugging to enjoy its full benefits.
We developed our Daydreamer Natural Face Moisturizer to increase microcirculation, soothe irritation, and lock in hydration. Besides tamanu oil, it also contains vitamin E, botanical hyaluronic acid, geranium flower water, and cocoa seed butter. Use it each morning and evening over your serum to lock in moisture, prevent dryness, and get all the tamanu oil benefits for skin.
Are you a skincare beginner who wants to try out a range of different natural products? This Eight Saints skincare routine was designed for you! It includes:
Used together, these products will help you prevent excess oil, combat blemishes, and reduce the appearance of pores.
There are some potential side effects to consider with this oil. Tamanu oil allergy is not very common. But if you notice itchiness, dry skin, blisters, or skin irritation after using it, this could be a sign of an allergic reaction.
Tamanu oil for face can cause acne breakouts in some people, especially if using an outdated or low quality product that contains this ingredient.
If you have sensitive skin, avoid direct application of oils. This may lead to redness or other forms of irritation. To be safe, it’s better to use products like those listed above that contain tamanu oil instead of using its pure form directly on your skin.
To enjoy all the tamanu oil benefits without any negative side effects, take these precautions:
Tamanu oil is generally a safe and effective addition to most people’s skincare routines. If for some reason you are not able to use it or want to include other beneficial oils, consider these:
There’s substantial evidence of the many tamanu oil benefits thanks to its incredible skin healing properties. While it isn’t a cure-all for every skin condition, research shows that it has promising and positive effects. And tamanu oil reviews provide plenty of anecdotal evidence to support its use.
Use it wisely - and consider adding skincare products that contain tamanu oil to your routine before using it directly on your skin. If you experience any issues after using it or your skin conditions do not improve, consult with your dermatologist for additional support.