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Tamanu Oil is Skin Care’s New Up and Comer

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Tamanu Oil is Skin Care’s New Up and Comer featured image
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Tamanu oil has been used for decades as a medicinal salve thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and wound healing properties. Today, beauty brands are catching on to the magical benefits this ancient cure-all and adding it to skin-care formulas, from acne scar relievers to hydrating body lotions.

Tamanu oil comes from the seed of the tamanu tree, which “originates from the Pacific Islands and is often considered a ‘sacred’ tree, especially in Tahiti where it is protected and can only be used to build temples,” says Shikohin director of research and development Philippe Dumont. He notes that tamanu oil has long been a remedy for skin concerns among Tahitians due to its calming and healing properties as well as its analgesic and antibacterial effects.

“The tradition is to cover any newborn baby with tamanu oil to ensure total protection. It’s used against sunburn, infected wounds, mosquito bites, scars (even acne scars) and coral cuts for surfers. It’s still used in general hospitals there to treat severe burn patients,” says Dumont. It was even a key remedy for leprosy until the mid-1950s, he notes.

Formulators have been folding tamanu oil into skin-care concoctions here and there for a while, but lately, we’ve noticed tamanu oil popping up on more ingredient lists and social media stories, so we asked experts to give us the need-to-know background on the trending oil.

  • Ginger King is a cosmetic chemist
  • Dr. Ally Frankel is the skin director at NUDESKIN
  • Philippe Dumont is the director of research and development for Shikohin 
  • Marc Elrick is the founder of Byoma and Tan Luxe

What is tamanu oil?

Tamanu oil is dark green to brown, semi-viscous and has a nutty odor, says cosmetic chemist Ginger King, and it has found its way into more and more mainstream skin care recently. “This oil is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and has been traditionally used for its skin-care and medicinal properties to promote skin healing, reduce inflammation and moisturize the skin,” says founder of Byoma and Tan Luxe Marc Elrick.

“From a very personal perspective, I have been formulating and developing products for over 25 years, and tamanu oil is definitely my favorite active ingredient,” says Dumont. “There is always a small bottle of it in my travel bag wherever I go.”

What are the benefits of tamanu oil for skin?

“Tamanu oil is a versatile, natural oil that can benefit various skin types and conditions, from dry and sensitive skin to acne-prone and aging skin,” says Elrick. The experts shared some of the most notable benefits of the trending oil.

It’s rich in fatty acids and antioxidants

“Fatty acids are essential to maintaining a healthy skin barrier. These fatty acids that make up tamanu oil assist with maintaining skin structure and elasticity,” says NUDESKIN skin director Dr. Ally Frankel. The fatty acids can also help combat acne and UV damage, she adds.

Linoleic acid, one of the components in tamanu oil, boasts impressive antioxidant properties. “Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid and reinforces the skin’s barrier and has also been proven to fight free radical damage,” says Dr. Frankel.

It’s hydrating 

According to Elrick, “The most notable benefits of tamanu oil are its moisturizing and restoring properties” since it’s deeply moisturizing and helps replenish skin. Dr. Frankel explains that tamanu oil “adds moisture to the skin by locking in water and reinforcing our skin’s barrier.”

It’s anti-inflammatory

“Tamanu oil has been proven to be one of the safest and most powerful topical solutions as an anti-inflammatory (with no risk of allergies), ideal for treating skin reactions,” says Dumont. Alpha-linolenic acid, found in both tamanu oil and flaxseed oil, is known to be anti-inflammatory and even helps protect against heart disease when consumed, says Dr. Frankel. King notes that the anti-inflammatory benefits come in handy for healing skin and can often be found in shaving and after-sun products.

It can improve wounds, wrinkles, scars and stretch marks

“Due to its reinforcement of the skin barrier protecting the skin from UV, pollutants and bacteria, it is also said to be anti-aging and skin-healing,” says Dr. Frankel. Studies have shown that it has great regenerating properties as it accelerates keratinocyte wound healing, says Dumont. “Thanks to that, it has a great anti-wrinkle effect and is very effective in treating recent scars and stretch marks.”

Tamanu oil products to try

1 / 10

Kate McLeod Balance Face Stone Solid Face Moisturizer ($68)

This unique solid face moisturizer is formulated to even skin tone, calm redness and lock in hydration using nutrient-rich plant-based ingredients.

BUY ON KATE MCLEOD – $68

BUY ON SEPHORA – $68

kate-mlcleod-face-stone
2 / 10

Byoma Liptide Lip Oil ($12)

This new lip oil from Byoma is formulated with tamanu oil to restore and condition dry lips for up to 24 hours after applying, says Elrick. It helps “to visibly restore the delicate barrier on the lips, minimize water loss and instantly nourish and revitalize skin while cushioning and conditioning the lips.”

BUY ON BYOMA – $12

BUY ON ULTA – $12

byoma-lip-oil
3 / 10

Shikohin Enchanting Dry Body Oil ($48)

Dumont says tamanu oil is the star ingredient in this body oil. “Not only does it calm down and repair the skin, but it also leaves the skin soft with a glowing golden touch,” he says. Plus, it has a great woody scent.

BUY ON SHIKOHIN – $48

SHIKHONIN-OIL
4 / 10

Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate Face Oil ($60)

This face oil offers your daily antioxidant boost and supports a more energized, radiant appearance. Ginger root, sunflower oil and tamanu oil help fight signs of fatigue on skin and help amp up your glow.

BUY ON KIEHL’S – $60

BUY ON SPACENK – $60

kiehls-concentrate
5 / 10

SheaMoisture Extra Dry Skin Body Lotion ($16)

This body lotion designed for ultra-dry skin restores hydration, soothes skin and mends the barrier with skin-loving ingredients like tamanu oil, shea butter and aloe vera.

BUY ON AMAZON – $16

BUY ON IHERB – $11

shea-moisture-body-lotion
6 / 10

KraveBeauty 100% Cold-Pressed Tamanu Oil ($20)

If you want pure tamanu oil, grab this cold-pressed option from KraveBeauty. The multipurpose skin and hair oil helps remedy dryness, redness and irritation and promotes skin healing and regeneration.

BUY ON KRAVEBEAUTY – $20

KRAVE-BEAUTY-TAMANU-OIL
7 / 10

NUDEBODY Sunshine Oil Body Elixir  ($38)

Frankel says this oil-based body moisturizer, featuring tamanu oil and other oils rich in fatty acids, leaves you with a bronzed glow, ideal for spring and summer. “Not to mention, it smells amazing.” She recommends applying it daily before sunscreen for the best experience.

BUY ON NUDESTIX – $38

BUY ON REVOLVE – $38

NUDEBODY-OIL
8 / 10

Votary Blemish Rescue Oil ($46)

This plant-based spot treatment can help address acne without causing dryness. Salicylic acid deeply cleans pores and removes dead skin cells, while soothing ingredients keep skin calm, thereby speeding up healing time and reducing redness and irritation.

BUY ON SPACENK – $46

VOTARY-OIL
9 / 10

Natura Bisse Rosa Mosqueta Oil ($78)

This intensely hydrating and nourishing oil is part of the brand’s NB-ceutical line. The comforting, rejuvenating oil helps reduce the appearance of signs of aging, blemishes and other imperfections.

BUY ON NATURA BISSE – $78

BUY ON DERMSTORE – $75

NATURA-BISSE-OIL
10 / 10

Grown Alchemist Body Treatment Oil ($44)

This body oil melts right into skin, where bioactive ingredients work to soften, smooth and hydrate skin while boosting elasticity. A reviewer says this oil even helped to fade discoloration.

BUY ON GROWN ALCHEMIST – $44

BUY ON AMAZON – $44

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