Regardless of whether you’ve heard of tamanu oil and its benefits to this point or not, though, do know it’s not new. The oil—which carries a distinctly nutty, earthy aroma—is extracted from the seed of the tamanu nut tree, and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in its native parts of Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands.
“It’s available in soap because it’s hydrating,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a board-certified New York City-based dermatologist, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and author of the book, Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. But it’s also effective in many other forms as well, including face creams, moisturizers, and face masks, as well as in body lotion and balms, because it is quite moisturizing and can be applied all over the skin.
“Tamanu oil is primarily used in skin care and is often referred to as Calophyllum inophyllum oil on product labels,” says Jenelle Kim, DACM, LAc, certified herbalist, doctor of Chinese Medicine, and founder and lead formulator for JBK Wellness Labs. “It is often found in products designed for dry skin, anti-aging, or scar reduction.”
Below, learn more about the benefits of tamanu oil, who may want to consider using it, and six products to try.
5 tamanu oil benefits to know about
While you can use lotions and cleansers for moisturizing normal skin, one of the tamanu oil benefits to know about for its skin-care applications is that it’s especially helpful for certain skin conditions. It’s been used for centuries in its native regions as a healing product for eczema, hyperpigmentation, wound healing, acne, and even for sunburns, among other purposes.
Before using it, though, be sure to test it on a patch of skin, ideally after consulting with your dermatologist, to see how your body reacts. If you get an irritation, stop use and seek a health-care provider. If you and a professional deem that it is safe and effective for you to use, get ready to enjoy some of the many tamanu oil benefits.
1. It’s moisturizing
“Tamanu oil is very rich in fatty acids, which helps hydrate skin; it locks in moisture and helps strengthen the skin’s natural barrier,” says Dr. Kim. Those fatty acids are also adept at lowering inflammation and keeping the skin moist, which is why many types of skin-care products contain other fat sources, like avocado oil, for example. Tamanu oil’s naturally moisturizing properties help to promote soft, hydrated skin, which allows it to function as a treatment of sorts to minimize signs of skin aging, like fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes.
2. It’s wound-healing
You can use tamanu oil for eczema, wounds, burns, and other areas where your skin is damaged in order to avoid permanent scarring. “Tamanu oil contains caryophyllene and other components that have been studied for their ability to help heal wounds and reduce scarring,” says Dr. Kim.
It is believed to help improve skin regeneration, promote new cell growth, and increase the production of collagen—all of which can quicken the healing process and promote fresh, new skin. It’s great for those with psoriasis, chapped skin, cracked skin, and fissures, among other skin infections.
3. It may treat acne
Tamanu oil benefits may include helping you say bye to pimples and clogged pores. “Tamanu oil has antibacterial properties and is effective against the main bacteria that cause acne, P. acnes and P. granulosum, which makes it a great choice for moisturizing acne-prone skin.” says Dr. Kim.
4. It has anti-inflammatory properties
“[Tamanu oil] has also been found to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain associated with it,” says Dr. Kim. That makes it nice for those who experience redness and other skin conditions that bring discomfort. “It has been shown to be good for eczema and sensitive skin—it’s anti-inflammatory,” adds Dr. Jaliman.
5. It might protect against sunburn
Many tamanu oil products contain properties to protect against UV rays and sunburn. “It’s also a UV protector, so some people use it as a sunscreen,” says Dr. Jaliman. But we don’t recommend you ditch your SPF in favor of tamanu oil! Continue using sunscreen on your face and body, and instead consider tamanu oil as an extra boost.
Who should use tamanu oil?
People who experience dry skin many enjoy the most benefits of tamanu oil and the hydrating and moisturizing effects it provides. “Since it is a thicker, rich oil it might clog the pores of someone who already has naturally oily skin,” says Dr. Kim. Another note—anyone with a nut allergy should steer clear of tamanu oil, since it is extracted from a tree nut.
Ready to embrace the benefits of tamanu oil? Try these 6 products
“It contains shea butter and tamanu oil and is formulated with no parabens, no phthalates, no mineral oil, and no sulfates,” says Dr. Jaliman. This tamanu oil body lotion locks in hydration, with the addition of shea butter for a silky texture.
Made with Himalayan geranium and pomegranate, the scent is fruity and appealing, and the oil is packed with antioxidants. This balancing oil is great for all skin types—normal, dry, and combination.
This organic balm from Jessica Alba’s Honest brand is another great pick, especially for those with sensitive skin. You can use it on cracked skin, like dry elbows and hands, for example. You can even use it on split ends, making it a seriously all-purpose product.
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