Moringa Oil for Skin: Benefits and How to Use

Dermatologists say it's a jack-of-all-trades ingredient.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Hadley King, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
  • Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, is the Associate Professor of Dermatology and the Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
  • Dr. Barbara Olioso, MRSC has 20 years of experience as a cosmetic chemist and green product formulator.

This all-natural source of skincare greatness is now being praised as an all- around wonder oil, but, it's hardly new on the scene. In fact, it's been used for health and beauty benefits for centuries.

Moringa Oil

Type of ingredient: Oil

Main benefits: Reduces fine lines and wrinkles, improves the overall appearance of the skin, soothes inflammation.

Who should use it: In general, all skin types can benefit from using moringa oil.

How often can you use it?: Usage varies depending on the specific product, but in general, moringa oil can be used daily, both AM and PM.

Works well with: Moringa oil works well with most ingredients.

Don't use with: Moringa oil can be used with most ingredients.

What Is Moringa Oil?

"Moringa seed oil is an oil that comes from the moringa plant found in the Himalayan mountains," says Zeichner. "The oil is rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants, which soothe and protect the skin." The antioxidants act as natural preservatives, making it a stable oil resistant to rancidity, and allowing for a longer shelf life. The seeds of the moringa tree are also high in oleic acid, another fatty acid, at 73%, which gives it additional beneficial properties we'll discuss later on. It's also nutrient-dense, high in palmitoleic and linoleic acids, and contains vitamins A and C as well.

"Its seeds contain about 40% of oil which is high in oleic acid triglycerides and, for this reason, is often compared to olive oil," says Olioso, who notes that the oil leaves behind a nice texture on the skin, and also contains powerful antioxidant tocopherols—like Vitamin E and calming sterols, which she says makes it ideal for cosmetic applications. Moringa oil is found in numerous cosmetics due to its moisturizing, cleansing, and emollient properties.

Benefits of Moringa Oil for Skin

• Hydrating: "Moringa oil is 40% monounsaturated fatty acids, with 70% of that being oleic acid," says King. "This makes it great for supporting the skin barrier, which seals in hydration and protects us from environmental insults. This means that it is a good moisturizer and beneficial for dry and sensitive skin."

• Cleansing: Those fatty acids—particularly oleic acid, a compound found in moringa—make moringa a very cleansing oil.

• Anti-aging: Providing that the product is comprised of "relatively fresh oil with low free oleic acid content," says Olioso, it will be effective at plumping fine lines and contributing to an overall more youthful appearance.

• Healing: Because of its emollient properties, moringa is a solid choice for applying to minor cuts, burns, and scrapes.

• Balancing: "Moringa oil is also similar to the oil naturally produced by our skin, which means that it can help to balance and nourish all skin types without being greasy," says King.

• Anti-microbial: "It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties as well, and because of its high content of vitamin E, it also has potent antioxidant properties," says King.

• Combats breakouts: The anti-inflammatory properties may also help contribute to clearer skin, counteracting breakouts. "It is an ingredient commonly used to address skin issues like pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, and even acne prone skin," says Zeichner.

• Therapeutic: Moringa is often used in aromatherapy products as a carrier oil (due to its long shelf life).

Use moringa oil to condition dry lips and other rough, dry skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis.

Side Effects of Moringa Oil

Unfortunately, there's no scientific proof available to verify all of its potential side effects. While certain professionals revere the oil's miracle powers, clinical trials have not been conducted to prove these claims. "We need more data to fully understand the effects of moringa oil in topical products because there have not yet been many studies about this," says King. As with any new product, experts recommend patients do a spot test behind the ear and leave it on for 24 hours. If any reaction occurs, discontinue use.

How to Use Moringa Oil

While moringa can be purchased as an oil (i.e. one containing no other ingredients), it's most often used in conjunction with other ingredients. The oil itself can be used as a moisturizer, hair treatment, or even in cooking. You can use moringa oil in the morning and night. It's best to use it at the final step of your nighttime routine, or before your sunscreen in the morning.

The Best Products with Moringa Oil

This cold-pressed moringa oil with no additives can be used on its own or added to other products. "You can always add a few drops to your moisturizer at night as a regenerative additive, or if you have dry skin you can use a few drops as a serum before your moisturizer," says Olioso.

Both Zeichner and King recommend Carter & Jane's The Everything Oil Neroli No. 18 Cleanser. "It's 100% USDA certified organic and contains organic sesame seed oil, castor bean oil, moringa seed oil, prickly pear seed oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil and aloe to provide a comprehensive cleansing, hydrating and moisturizing experience," says King. "And it contains organic neroli, sweet orange, bergamot, frankincense and ylang-ylang essential oils, to provide a light spa-like aroma. It's also rich in antioxidants."

Medical esthetician Tamila Deveny (based at New York's Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery) touts the MARA Algae and Moringa Universal Face Oil as one of her favorite combinations, as it offers a multitude of benefits all in one place. “Its composition is high in essential fatty acids that plump up the skin and fight free radicals whilst improving the appearance of skin tone,” she says, “Also, it is hypoallergenic and has been clinically tested and dermatologist tested.”

Deveny also trusts Odacité's Moringa Petitgrain Serum Concentrate, saying that it has the “highest-grade cold-pressed certified virgin Moringa” to help with skin tone and mature skin. She adds that this product is “great for older women” who are experiencing dry skin when going through menopause.

Emma Hardie's Moringa Renewal Treatment Mask contains powerful ingredients like moringa seed oil, red algae extract, and hyaluronic acid meant to protect the skin, and heal damage, while moisturizing.

This body oil is meant to replace standard lotions and moisturizers, with a medley of powerful ingredients that keep skin smooth and supple. "This is a great choice that contains 100% USDA certified organic, sustainably-sourced, cold-pressed prickly pear seed oil, baobab seed oil, moringa seed oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil and aloe vera," notes King. "It hydrates, moisturizes, improves elasticity and tone, promotes collagen production, and has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties."

Salicylic acid cleans pores, while moringa ensures it isn't stripped of moisture. In other words, Farmacy's product serves as a toner gentle enough for acne-prone skin (as a bonus, it's formulated without parabens or sulfates).

Moringa oil is very closely mimics our skin's own natural sebum and typically won't clog pores.

Moringa oil is rich in vitamin C (in fact, it has seven times more vitamin C than oranges), which can help brighten hyperpigmentation.

Moringa oil is a great option for people with dry skin. Since it's high in oleic acid, it's a great hydrator and perfect for sealing in moisture and repairing your moisture barrier.

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