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Marula Oil for Hair Growth: Expert Review 2023
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Updated on February 20, 2024

Using marula oil for hair growth can be a tempting solution if you are experiencing hair loss, since it is well-reputed in the cosmetic industry for its anti-aging, antioxidant and emollient qualities. But is it safe to use marula oil on your hair and scalp? And will it make your hair grow back?

While so far, no clinical trials have studied marula oil’s efficacy for hair growth, there is some evidence that it does provide hair health benefits which may, indirectly, lead to a fuller head of hair. 

Keep reading this article to read more about:

  • What marula oil is and how it can be used on your hair
  • The hair and scalp benefits of marula oil
  • Natural alternatives to marula oil for hair growth
  • Reasons why your hair may be falling out and the best treatments available
Table of Contents

What is marula oil?

Marula oil is a natural oil extracted from the nut kernels of the Marula (Sclerocarya birrea) tree fruit native to multiple regions of sub-Saharan Africa [1]. This oil has multiple uses, ranging from cooking and leatherworking to skin and hair care, as well as medicine [2].

Since it is rich in fatty acids and antioxidants and has few side effects, it has been most successfully used in the cosmetic industry, to smooth out skin, remove blemishes, and moisturise and strengthen hair.







Marula oil

Fatty acids


Monounsaturated fats

Oleic acid (70-78%)

Eicosenoic acid (0.5%)


Polyunsaturated fats:

Linoleic acid (4-7%)

Alpha linolenic acid (0.1-0.7%)

Arachidonic acid (0.7%)



Saturated fats:

Palmitic acid (9-12%)

Stearic acid (5-8%)

Myristic acid (<0.2%)



Is marula oil good for your hair?

The field of natural hair oils for growth is largely understudied, so there haven’t been any clinical trials to determine the efficiency of marula oil for different hair uses. However, the composition of marula oil does reveal promising benefits, some of which are supported by small scale in-vitro studies:

Marula oil is antioxidant-rich 

Marula oil contains natural antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds, as well as high amounts of Vitamin C, but also Vitamin E, which help combat the damaging action of free radicals and of UV radiation and pollution [4].

Marula oil has emollient and moisturising properties 

The fatty acids in marula oil are also commonly encountered in hair moisturisers, as they help retain water within the hair shaft. This is very good for preventing dry, brittle hair which breaks off easily [5][6].

Marula oil may have hair-strengthening properties

There is some indication that marula oil helps increase protein levels in your hair fibres and thus make the hair strands stronger, more resistant to breakage and less likely to get split ends [7]. 

Marula oil increases hair shine 

Marula oil nourishes and protects the scalp and hair strands without encumbering them or making them look greasy This gives your locks a healthy, shiny look [6]. 

Marula oil makes detangling easier 

Fatty acids found in marula oil lubricate the hair strands and reduce friction, making them smoother, less frizzy, less likely to break during combing and easier to detangle and style [13]. 

It may have anti-inflammatory properties

While the pathways through which marula oil is said to reduce scalp inflammation have not yet been studied sufficiently and are not properly understood, some studies assert that it may indeed have such properties [1]. This is likely due to the fact that it moisturises the skin and reduces dryness and itching and it may also possess anti-inflammatory compounds (but further research is needed to confirm this)  [8]. 

Marula oil has some antimicrobial properties 

A 2017 in-vitro study [9] performed on marula oil revealed that it was efficient in reducing certain strains of bacteria. While this does not prove efficiency against other microorganisms which can cause common scalp problems, it shows a possible antimicrobial effect and may be helpful against scalp acne.

Marula oil may have limited anti-aging properties

One study reveals that while the marula stem extract has demonstrated potent anti-aging activity, marula oil only demonstrated limited activity in this aspect [10]. However, the fact that it has a protective effect on hair strands, shielding them to some extent from heat damage, pollution and UV radiation shows that it might have some anti-aging properties.

It should be kept in mind that these qualities of the marula oil need to be further researched in order to determine the quantities and concentrations of oil that need to be applied to your scalp in order to achieve full benefits.

This is even more important since one study has revealed significant composition differences between marula oils obtained from fruit grown in different geographical locations [11].

Does marula oil make your hair grow?

No clinical studies have tested marula oil’s hair growth properties so far, so it is difficult to say. However, the hair benefits listed above can indirectly reduce hair loss, as hair strands which are well-moisturised, nourished, fortified and shielded from environmental damage will be more difficult to break and may even undergo more growth. 

Does marula oil have any unwanted side effects?

Marula oil has been found to be non-irritant and generally safe to use without any significant side effects [6]. 

However, since it is an oil, using it too frequently and in large quantities on an already oily scalp can make hair greasy. This can not only clog your hair follicles and give your hair a less-than-fresh appearance, but it can also lead to the proliferation of Malassezia, a fungus which often causes yeast infections on the scalp, such as dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis

Finally, since any substance can cause an allergic reaction in those sensitive to it, be sure to test marula oil on a small patch of skin before applying it to your scalp.

How often can I use marula oil on my hair?

If you have a dry scalp, it is safe to use this oil as often as daily. However, for an oily scalp, it is not advisable to exceed 1-2 times per week.     

How to use marula oil on your hair

Here are some of the most common ways in which marula oil can be used on your hair. Feel free to choose the option that best suits your hair needs:

Best ways to use marula oil on your hair
Use marula oil as hair treatment
  • Pour a few drops of oil on your hands
  • Gently massage it into your scalp
  • Use a comb to spread it on the length of your hair
  • Leave it in for at least 30 minutes
  • Wash it off with your regular shampoo
Use marula oil as a conditioner
  • Wash and slightly dry your hair
  • Apply a few drops of marula oil to your hair (but not your scalp) and comb for even distribution
  • Leave the marula oil in your hair
Mix marula oil with other essential oils and apply as a hair mask
  • Mix a few drops of marula oil with other natural hair mask ingredients (olive oil, argan oil, shea butter, etc.)
  • Apply the mixture to your hair and spread it across its length
  • Keep it on for at least 30 minutes
  • Wash it off with your regular shampoo
Mixing marula oil in your hair products
  • Pour a few drops of marula oil into your regular shampoo or conditioner
  • Wash your hair as you normally would.

What other essential oils can I use for hair growth?

If you are looking for the best essential oils for hair growth, here are some other natural remedies which might contribute to your hair and scalp health and more luxurious locks:

Why is my hair thinning?

There could be a number of reasons why your hair is falling out. The most common of these are the following:

Regardless of the cause of your hair shedding it is important to get a diagnosis at the first signs of hair loss and balding. That is because while some hair conditions are reversible without medical intervention, most will get worse and may become too advanced for treatment. 

How can I stop my hair from falling out?

It is natural to worry and look for solutions if you are experiencing hair loss. However, the best way to be sure you are getting the right treatment is to book a consultation with a trichologist. They will perform a thorough examination of your scalp and hair and may recommend one of the many evidence-based treatments and therapies, according to your scalp needs:

If your hair loss is too advanced to respond to non-surgical treatment, there is no need to worry. Hair restoration surgery is safe and fast and recent technological advancements ensure that you can get a natural looking hair transplant whether you opt for a FUE or FUT type procedure.

As you can see in our before and after hair transplant gallery, the results are very good and the best hair transplant clinics in the UK have a 97-100% success rate.

Moreover, the best part is that, unlike medication that you have to keep taking, a hair transplant is permanent, so it is the quickest way to regain your once-luxurious locks.

Marula Oil for Hair Growth: Expert Review 2023, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr Ahmad Moussa (FRCS)Updated on February 20, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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