Maracuja Oil for Radiant Skin, Softer Hair?

Maracuja oil,from the passion fruit plant, may help treat dry skin and hair

passiflora edulis
Maracuja oil is sourced from the seeds of passionflower or passion fruit. Credit: Arco Images/Larssen Gitta/Getty Images

Maracuja oil is a natural substance sometimes used as an ingredient in skincare products. Many maracuja oil products are sourced from the seeds of Passiflora incarnata (a plant more commonly known as passionflower), while others are sourced from the seeds of Passiflora edulis (also known as passion fruit).

Maracuja oil is said to act as an emollient (a substance that increases the skin's hydration).

Proponents claim that the oil is a rich source of many substances thought to enhance skin health, including essential fatty acids, minerals, and antioxidants (such as vitamin C).

Uses for Maracuja Oil

In alternative medicine, when applied to the skin, maracuja oil is a touted as a natural solution for the following skin problems:

Maracuja oil is also said to act as an anti-aging remedy when applied to the skin. 

In addition, applying maracuja oil to the scalp and/or hair is purported to promote hair growth and treat dry or damaged hair. 

Some proponents also suggest that using maracuja oil as a massage aid can help ease muscle aches and reduce stress.

Health Benefits of Maracuja Oil

So far, few studies have tested the potential benefits of maracuja oil. However, some preliminary research indicates that maracuja oil may have certain beneficial properties.

In a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in 2008, for instance, scientists determined that oil extracted from passion fruit seeds contains a high amount of linoleic acid (a type of essential fatty acid that plays a key role in skin function).

Also present in safflower and sunflower oils, linoleic acid has been found to reduce inflammation when applied directly to the skin.

Additionally, a study published in the journal Molecules in 2011 indicates that passion fruit oil has a high antioxidant activity. Although this study did not look at the skin-protecting effects of maracuja oil, there's some evidence that applying antioxidants to the skin may help fight sun damage (a key contributor to skin aging) and reverse signs of sun damage in the skin.

Alternatives to Maracuja Oil

A number of other natural substances (including argan oil, baobab, and sea buckthorn) are high in essential fatty acids that may nourish the skin and improve its appearance. Although research on their potential to treat skin conditions is very limited, there's some evidence that sea buckthorn may help treat eczema.

Certain dietary changes may also help boost skin health. For example, following a balanced diet that's rich in antioxidants and healthy fats (such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed and in oily fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel) may improve your skin. Since excess sugar intake may be associated with accelerated aging of the skin, it's also important to limit your sugar intake. Drinking plenty of water may also help keep your skin healthy.

Several natural remedies are often used in hair care. While scientific research supporting their effectiveness is currently lacking, natural products such as coconut oil and amla oil are said to strengthen and condition the hair.

What's more, a natural substance known as neem oil has long been used to enhance hair health in ayurvedic medicine.

Where to Find It

Maracuja oil is sold in some natural-foods stores and stores specializing in natural-beauty products. You can also purchase maracuja oil online.

Using Maracuja Oil for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend maracuja oil for any condition. If you're considering using it, talk to your doctor first. Keep in mind that alternative medicine should not be used as a substitute for standard care. 

Sources

Burke KE. "Photodamage of the skin: protection and reversal with topical antioxidants." J Cosmet Dermatol. 2004 Jul;3(3):149-55.

Ferreira BS, de Almeida CG, Faza ​LP, de Almeida A, Diniz CG, da Silva VL, Grazul RM, Le Hyaric M. "Comparative properties of Amazonian oils obtained by different extraction methods." Molecules. 2011 Jul 13;16(7):5875-85.

Liu S, Yang F, Li J, Zhang C, Ji H, Hong P. " Physical and chemical analysis of Passiflora seeds and seed oil from China." Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2008 Nov-Dec;59(7-8):706-15.

Yasuda M, Nishizawa T, Ohigashi H, Tanaka T, Hou DX, Colburn NH, Murakami A. "Linoleic acid metabolite suppresses skin inflammation and tumor promotion in mice: possible roles of programmed cell death 4 induction." Carcinogenesis. 2009 Jul;30(7):1209-16.

Continue Reading