What is tamanu oil and how does it work in skincare?

Tamanu oil can help you achieve healthy, glowing skin with added antioxidant protection

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(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Get the lowdown on tamanu oil in this instalment of Skincare 101—our comprehensive skincare dictionary of every ingredient that you need to know about.

If you have ever looked through the health and wellness section of a natural food store, you might have seen tamanu oil.

This oil has numerous reported benefits for skin. Also known as beauty leaf oil, Calophyllum Inophyllum seed oil, and Alexandrian laurel oil, the use of tamanu oil has circled the globe after first originating in Polynesia. 

Add tamanu oil to your skincare routine and you could achieve naturally healthy, glowing skin—here’s how it works. 

What is tamanu oil?

Tamanu oil comes from the round, green fruits of the Calophyllum Inophyllum or tamanu trees, which grow in tropical regions. The nuts produce a sticky, bluish-yellow to dark green oil which has a disagreeable flavor and smell

Once the oils are refined to remove the resinous materials, it produces the oil that can be used on skin and hair, which is then included in numerous cosmetic products around the world.

What are the benefits of tamanu oil for skin?

As a fatty nut oil tamanu oil has properties that are beneficial to skin, like some UV protection, antibacterial attributes, scar improvement and moisturizing properties.

It contains elements in the oils that produce an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces redness in irritated skin. It also contains vitamin E for a healthy glow. The oil acts as a barrier on top of the surface of the skin to prevent loss of moisture.

Tamanu oil contains properties that may help alleviate pain and heal blisters, small cuts, and scrapes—although it's best not to do so on large or open wounds without the advice of a doctor.

This oil may also be beneficial to fight the itch of an insect bite, and is thought to help with collagen production to help reduce the effects of free radicals that prematurely age skin.

How to add tamanu oil to your skincare routine

When it comes to skincare products, your regime should be applied from thinnest to thickest consistency, so oils will generally be the last step in your routine (apart from your best sunscreen for face during the day). Like with the best moisturizers for dry skin, most people like to use an oil at nighttime and/or in winter because of their thicker, more nourishing consistency.

For haircare, take a few drops in your hands and massage the hair down while applying a little extra to the ends. This may help in healing the appearance of dry or damaged hair. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite products below. 

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Kiehl's Daily Reviving Concentrate

RRP: $52/£42 for 30ml

As well as tamanu oil, this lightweight concentrate is packed with ginger root and sunflower to revive a fatigued complexion.

It's also non-comedogenic (opens in new tab), meaning it won't clog your pores. 


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Honest Beauty Facial Oil

RRP: $30/£35 for 30ml

The skincare brand from Jessica Alba, Honest Beauty's nourishing facial oil contains a blend of different oils (including tamanu) to help restore and moisturize skin.


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Facetheory Hydrating Tamanu Oil

RRP: $15.99/£12.00 for 100ml

This organic, cold-pressed tamanu oil is blended with vitamin E for a way to add extra nourishment and antioxidant (opens in new tab) protection into your skin or haircare routine.

Applying tamanu oil is as simple as applying most oils if you remember to stay away from your mouth and eyes. Before applying to large areas of your body, it is best to test the product on a spot of skin, although it’s unlikely to be safe for those with tree nut allergies. Remember that tamanu oil can spread easily over a large area, so only a small amount is necessary for use. Tamanu oil dries quickly while leaving the skin smooth and soft. 

While the tamanu oil has healing properties, it should not be used on large wounds without consulting a doctor. Use on insect bites, stretch marks, scrapes, and small cuts after gently cleansing the area. Place a drop or two on the site and gently spread to cover the wound. Allow seeping into the skin before applying bandages.

Tamanu oil is excellent for nourishing skin and hair. We’re sure you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time at all.

Aleesha Badkar
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is deputy editor and beauty & fashion lead for My Imperfect Life, where she heads up the beauty, fashion and eCommerce pages. Previously she was shopping writer for woman&home and gained an AOP awards nomination after working on their news team. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including, Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. When she’s not testing new products, Aleesha spends her time soaking up the newest bestsellers and Netflix releases, learning about different wines, attempting new languages and travelling as much as she can.