Tamanu oil is my new favorite carrier oil. It lightens my dark marks, clears up pimples, and makes my skin look smooth and healthy. It is amazing!
Properties of Tamanu Oil
The botanical name of tamanu is Calophyllum inophyllum.
You may sometimes see other names for tamanu oil like kamani or beautyleaf oil. They all refer to the same amazing oil.
Color and Smell
I’ve seen questions like is tamanu oil from a tree nut? And what is the color of tamanu oil? Well, yes tamanu oil is made from the nuts of the tamanu tree and it typically has a rich, dark green color.
It may even be black if heat is used to dry the tamanu seeds, instead of natural sunlight. But my preference is the dark green colored oils.
The oil has a nutty scent. The smell can be a bit odd to some, so you should probably sample it before you buy a whole lot. And, of course, you can mask the smell with your favorite essential oils like lavender or geranium.
This oil is a bit thick. But, it does absorb fast, which is awesome!
The comedogenic rating for tamanu oil is 2. That means it is not likely to cause acne. But you should still patch test the oil to make sure it does not cause you to break out.
What is in Tamanu Oil?
Tamanu oil has a unique chemical composition.
It has relatively even quantities of linoleic acid (around 30 to 40%) and oleic acid (around 35 to 40%) but also has stearic acid (15%), palmitic acid (15%) and linolenic acid. Besides fatty acids, the oil contains coumarins, xanthones and an ester called lactone.
The coumarins in this oil include calaustralin, calophyllolide, inophyllum C and inophyllum E. And the xanthones include dehydrocycloguanandin, calophyllin-B, jacareubin, mesuaxanthone-A, mesuaxanthone-B, and euxanthone.
These compounds are the reason for the exceptional benefits of tamanu oil for skin, hair and more.
Tamanu Oil Benefits
Proven tamanu oil benefits show the oil:
- reduces inflammation
- repairs skin
- heals skin, cuts, and wounds
- kills bacteria and fungi
- reduces acne
- repels insects
Amazing right? Let’s get into more detail.
Tamanu oil has been used for a long time
Tamanu oil has long been used by the indigenous Polynesian people to treat many skin problems and injuries. They use it to treat:
- rashes and blisters
- cuts, abrasions, sores and scars
- swellings and insect bites
- acne and age spots
- eczema, psoriasis and dry skin
- Athlete’s foot and dermatitis
And guess what? There is scientific research to back up many of these uses.
It is anti-inflammatory
There are a couple studies that explore these benefits of tamanu oil.
An animal study published in 1980 investigated the effects of calophyllolide, a coumarin compound in the oil. The study found it had powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects when compared to hydrocortisone.
You should know hydrocortisone is a common anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drug. It is used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, asthma, and COPD.
The 1980 study went on to suggest calophyllolide had the potential to be a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent!
A much more recent study, published in 2004, found that calophyllolide and the xanthone compounds in the oil all have strong anti-inflammatory activity. The researchers noted this could explain why tamanu oil reduces swelling, sores, rashes and abrasions.
So if you have skin redness or inflammation, reach for this oil.
It can kill bacteria
A 2015 study tested tamanu oil on several species of bacteria, including the multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain. Would you believe the oil exhibited powerful antibacterial benefits against all the species tested? And the best part is MRSA was found to be more sensitive to tamanu oil than ofloxacin!
Side note: ofloxacin is a popular antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections like urinary tract infections, pneumonia and more. But the side effects can range from vomiting, diarrhea and headaches to tendon ruptures and seizures. Tamanu doesn’t have any of these side effects.
The study found the oil:
appears as a promising source to develop new antibiotics notably to fight multi-drug resistant bacteria implicated in skin infections.
I should also mention lactone – the ester found in tamanu oil – also has strong antibacterial activity.
Tamanu oil fights acne
The same 2015 study I just mentioned also tested the oil on Propionibacterium acnes. And as you can tell from its name, it is a species of bacteria associated with acne.
The study found the oil had relatively similar effects on the bacteria as compared to ofloxacin. That is why the researchers think tamanu oil could be used topically in acne treatments.
It kills other microbes too
A 2004 review of tamanu oil published in the Journal of the American Botanical Council cited studies that pointed to tamanu’s moderate activity against the fungi, Trichophyton schoenleinii.
This fungi is associated with athlete’s foot, ringworm, jock itch, dermatophytosis and more. So use tamanu oil as a carrier with antifungal essential oils like thyme and lemongrass.
A 1998 study also found some coumarins in tamanu oil had anti-HIV activity. So the oil may be able to inhibit viruses too.
It repairs skin
Tamanu oil is cicatrising and this 2002 study proves it.
Cicatrising means the oil helps with forming new tissue. So you can use this oil on scars, cuts, wounds, abrasions, blisters and more to promote the growth of healthy, beautiful skin.
Oh and the study found calophyllolide and inophyllum are some of the compounds responsible for these amazing benefits of tamanu oil. Remember from before, calophyllolide has anti-inflammatory effects too.
It heals wounds fast
There are quite a few studies that look into this benefit.
Remember the 2015 study that explored the antibacterial and anti-acne effects of tamanu oil? Well, it also explored the wound healing capabilities of the oil. It used human keratinocyte cells and tamanu oil diluted in olive oil at concentrations of 0.01%, 0.1%, and 1%.
The researchers found that at 0.1%, the oil showed significant effects on wound closure when compared to olive oil alone.
Another lab study from 2016 using human skin cells showed the oil had wound healing activity and helped with collagen production. And you may know collagen is what keeps your skin looking firm, young and wrinkle-free!
So use this oil to heal your cuts, wounds, and sores and keep your skin youthful and amazing.
It may be repellent
This one is a unique tamanu oil benefit. It may have insect repellent effects!
A 2010 study explored the effects of 21 essential oils alone or in combination with tamanu oil on stable flies (Stomoxys calcitrans). The study involved 6 male volunteers and the results were compared to the repellent activity of DEET.
So what were the results?
Well, patchouli essential oil was the most effective essential oil tested. It provided a protection of a little less than four hours. But it was not as effective as DEET which gave almost five hours of protection. Clove bud oil, thyme and geranium also showed good activity.
And tamanu oil? It gave repellent protection against the flies for almost an hour!
But that’s not all. When tamanu was combined with patchouli or thyme or clove bud, it increased the repellent time for the mix.
So if you are looking to make an insect repellent blend, try tamanu oil as the carrier oil. It brings its own repellent benefits to the party!
That sums up the proven benefits of tamanu oil. And it pretty much proves the Polynesians knew exactly what they were doing! Here’s a little roundup of everything:
Where to buy tamanu oil
These brands are great if you are looking to buy the oil.
Typically, you can use this oil for about two years, maybe even longer. But remember you have to keep your oils in cool, dry, dark conditions. This will increase its lifespan and prevent it from going bad too quickly.
Tamanu Oil Uses
There have been a few cases of contact dermatitis after using tamanu oil. So always patch test the oil before adding it to your skincare routine. Plus its comedogenic rating is around 2, so you should patch test to make sure it doesn’t cause you to break out.
Once you’re not sensitive in any way to the oil, you can try any of these tamanu oil uses:
For rashes and blisters
Tamanu has great anti-inflammatory benefits. So you can dab a few drops of the oil to calm and heal any rashes or blisters you may have.
Take care of eczema and psoriasis
You have to try this oil on your eczema or psoriasis spots. Dab a little on the area every day and watch the spots disappear. You can also mix the oil with other great oils like evening primrose and manuka oil. Combined, these oils will work wonders for persistent itchy spots and marks.
Use for acne
You can use the oil in a few different ways to deal with acne, breakouts, and acne scars. Dab a little oil directly on the area with a cue-tip, as a spot treatment. You can also add one or two drops of spearmint essential oil or tea tree oil to a teaspoon of tamanu oil. Keep the blend in a dark bottle and use it when you feel a pimple forming.
For cuts and wounds
Tamanu’s wound healing benefits make it perfect for cuts and wounds. After a cut has stopped bleeding, very gently apply a little oil on it with a cue-tip. You can do this three to five times a day until the cut or wound has healed.
Get rid of scars
If you have any scars or marks on your body, you can try tamanu oil to improve their appearance. Add a few drops to your fingers and gently massage the scar area. This will invigorate your skin and tamanu will take care of the rest.
For wrinkles or mature skin
The collagen-boosting benefits of tamanu oil are exactly what you need for your wrinkles, fine lines, and mature skin. Massage the oil into your problem areas for about 5 to 10 minutes for two weeks and see the difference. You can also mix the oil with Vitamin E or pomegranate oil to further enhance the wrinkle-fighting benefits.
Tamanu can be a little astringent so it does not make the best moisturizing oil out there. That’s ok! Add a couple drops of tamanu to avocado oil or jojoba oil and you’ll have yourself a luxurious moisturizer that your skin will absolutely love.
For repellent blends
You can use this oil as a carrier oil for your insect repellent blends! It’s amazing and comes with its own repellent activity. Mix one tablespoon of tamanu oil with one drop each of citronella, lemongrass and tea tree essential oils. If you like the smell of patchouli oil, you can also add a drop of it to your repellent blend. Slather the blend on your exposed skin before heading outdoors to keep flies, mosquitoes and other critters away.
How else do you use tamanu oil? Leave a comment and let me know.