Tamanu Oil

One oil I absolutely love is Tamanu Oil!  It is an incredible natural oil with a huge list of benefits from head to toe for your skin and hair!

Tamanu oil is one of those ingredients that I began using on my skin many years ago. I was so impressed with the results that I just had to use it in some of our products.

History behind this amazing oil.

In Pacific island folk medicine, tamanu oil is applied topically to help with cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites and stings, abrasions, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, and eczema.

Since the 1920’s it has been studied in hospitals and by researchers in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific islands. The results of these studies are impressive.

A study titled “Anti-inflammatory effects of Calophyllum inophyllum,” done by Tsai SC, Liang YH et al, was published in Oncology Reports on September 28, 2012. In this study Tamanu oil was found it to be a very effective anti-inflammatory oil, helping in skin conditions such as acne, rashes, and other irritations such as insect bites, sores, and eczema.

What is Tamanu?

Tamanu is a beautiful, slow growing, tropical evergreen tree, indigenous to the islands in French Polynesia and scattered throughout the tropical South Pacific and Indian Oceans. It grows best in salty, sandy soil near the sea and can reach up to 85 feet in height.

The scientific name of the Tamanu plant is Calophyllum inophyllum which means “beautiful leaf,” from the Greek ‘kalos’ meaning “beautiful” and ‘phullon’ meaning “leaf.” The tamanu branches are covered with beautiful, shiny, dark green oval leaves. The foliage is dense and so broad that it is often wider than it is tall.

Small, sweet-smelling white flowers, with yellow centres, are produced twice yearly.  From the flowers come clusters of fleshy fruit the size of an apricot with pulp that tastes like an apple.

The fleshy fruit starts out smooth and green. As it ripens, the fruit becomes wrinkled, and its colour turns from green to yellow and then to a brownish-red.

Inside the fleshy fruit is the Tamanu Nut from which the oil is eventually pressed.

So how do we get the healing oil from this exotic fruit?

Each tamanu fruit contains just one odourless, seed or nut kernel, called punnai in some Pacific areas. These nuts do not actually contain any oil when fresh.

The pale-coloured nut kernels are laid out on racks to cure for 6-8 weeks in the sun and must be protected from humidity and rain. As the nuts cure, they turn a deep, brownish-red colour, and as they breakdown become sticky with a thick, rich oil.

This is the time to cold press the oil from the kernels using a simple screw press to yield a natural oil that is thick and dark green with an earthy scent. The process for collection and curing above you can see that it takes a great deal of time to produce a small amount of tamanu oil, so you can see why Tamanu Oil can be so expensive. It takes many, many nuts to produce even a small quantity of oil.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of junk tamanu oil out there. A pure, unrefined tamanu oil has a thick consistency, a rich, deep nutty and woodsy scent, and a bold dark green colour. Do not be fooled by companies pretending to sell pure Tamanu Oil at a much lower price.

  • Some of these of these companies use some pure Tamanu Oil but then dilute it with cheaper carrier oils such as Olive Oil.
  • Other companies use greenish oils that contain little if any tamanu oil which is why it is so cheap.

Cosmetic companies often use refined tamanu that has been put through a chemical filtering process to remove the scent and colour because the natural dark colour and strong scent will alter the colour and aroma of their cosmetic creations.

Unrefined tamanu oil has a thick consistency and may naturally separate or solidify at cold temperatures which is another reason commercial companies prefer the refined oil.

Unfortunately, the refined oil has been chemically stripped of many of its healing components making it inferior and much less effective. There is only one, slow natural process to produce pure tamanu oil that retains its natural, skin-healing, and anti-aging properties.

What Does Tamanu Oil Do?

Since Tamanu oil can penetrate the three layers of skin, you are receiving hydration on a much deeper level, rather than coating the outermost layer of skin. It works by promoting the formation of new tissues and has been used as a natural remedy for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and a whole host of skin ailments.

Tamanu oil is also massaged into the skin to relieve neuralgia, rheumatism, and sciatica. Polynesian women believe that tamanu promotes healthy, clear skin and they use it on babies to prevent diaper rash and skin irritations.

I have also used this oil when preparing a balm for people who are going through radiotherapy treatment.  It’s healing qualities are second to none!

Soulistic products that contain Tamanu Oil 

Purify Facial Oil

Healing Balm

Stretchmark Balm 



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