Oil. Whether for cooking or skin care, oil is often either lauded or loathed - but rarely anything in between. There is a lot of oily misinformation out there blaming it for our shiny T-zones. However, much like its valued place in the kitchen, oil is also essential to a healthy skin care routine. Argan, coconut and vitamin-e oil may be old-hat by now for beauty junkies, but what about the newest in exotic options: marula oil?
Derived from an African nut that gives elephants a boozy buzz, marula oil is the key ingredient in the aptly named Drunk Elephant skin care. Drunk Elephant is one of very few brands out there to tap marula's magic and is a finalist for CEW's best Indie Beauty Brand award. (But the secret is out - you can find Drunk Elephant and it's adorable packaging at Sephora.)
To find out why marula belongs in your beauty arsenal (and which other "essential oils" DON'T) - I sat down with the brand's founder, Tiffany Masterson and learned the real science behind its power.
What exactly is Virgin Marula oil?
Marula oil comes from the nuts of the marula tree, which is native to many parts of central and southern Africa where it's considered a delicacy even by locals.
It contains potent antioxidants, high concentrations of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, flavonoids, minerals, nutrients and essential fatty acids Omega 9 - oleic and Omega 6 -linoleic that fight free radicals, deliver environmental protection, reverse photo-damage, boost cellular activity, hydrate at the deepest levels, all while repairing, nourishing and healing the skin.
What makes it more effective than other “it” oils of the moment like coconut or argan oil?
Marula is higher in antioxidants and fatty acids than other oils, has anti-microbial properties and is pH balanced and non-comedogenic. Plus, it has a very fine molecular structure, so it soaks right in. It's quite the little miracle-worker!
Marula benefits every skin type, including skin that is oily, problematic and sensitive.
What’s the difference in oil vs lotion or serum?
Lotions and serums can be great, if they are formulated properly. I love oils because you really know what you’re getting. Check the ingredient list…make sure there’s only one ingredient.
What benefits are unique to oils?
Oils are exciting because different oils serve different purposes, some soak right in, some sit on top to seal in moisture, some provide anti-aging benefits while others heal the skin, and so on. Ours is unrefined, which means it’s more nutrient dense than a refined oil.
“Virgin” is pure or untouched…our Virgin Marula is just that. We don’t add a thing, just like the women in Africa who have used it for years.
You label Drunk Elephant "non-toxic", what do you mean by that?
My motto is “If there is any doubt, it’s out!” Drunk Elephant is non-toxic, rather than all-natural or organic. I went with non-toxic because I wanted high-performing products that were non-irritating. I choose ingredients without taking into account their synthetic or natural status (not all synthetics are bad!), only looking at hazard and toxicity levels that can be found in both natural and synthetic categories. Of course I was concerned with toxins (like pthalates, parabens and sulfates) getting in our blood stream, but I was also concerned about the sensitizers and irritants that can affect our external skin health, so I removed them all.
Obviously oils are awesome, but you believe "essential oils" are something different. Why should be avoided?
At Drunk Elephant we really avoid natural fragrance or essential oil. There are a jillion names for it too...they sound pretty, they make the product smell sweet and fruity, and supposedly they have benefits when used in skin care. I believe that they are good for aromatherapy purposes, but our skin doesn't need that. I also believe that some can cause sensitivity, inflammation and irritation that is cumulative and imperceptible.
Since I have eliminated them from my routine, my redness, oiliness and inflamed, irritable skin is history. For my customer and me, this has been the critical point of difference in our formulations.