10 Ways to Use Tamanu Oil for Radiant Skin and Stunning Hair

Hands holding bottle of oil surrounded by other beauty ingredients

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Tamanu oil is a fatty oil extracted from the seeds found inside the fruit of tamanu nut trees (species Calophyllum inophyllum and Calophyllum tacamahaca), which grow in Southeast Asia and Polynesia. These trees have long been considered sacred in their native South Sea Islands, and the viridescent oil they produce has been coveted for its beauty benefits for centuries.

Today, the ingredient is so common in mainstream skincare and cosmetics that the industry has befittingly dubbed it "green gold."

Much like the more familiar coconut oil, tamanu oil is rich, thick, and tends to solidify in cold temperatures. It's versatile and can be used on its own or combined with other ingredients to make homemade beauty treatments. However, it's worth noting that tamanu oil is comedogenic (i.e., it can clog pores). Those with oily and blemish-prone skin should stick to small amounts of the ingredient and use it only in localized areas.

Here are 10 ways to use tamanu oil in your beauty routine.

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Oil-Cleanse Your Face

Oil-cleansing deep cleans pores without stripping skin of essential moisture. Unlike traditional face wash formulas that foam or lather and often contain artificial fragrances and other irritants, botanical oils are all-natural and much gentler. They're even recommended for oily and acne-prone skin because the healthy oils bond with and dissolve dirty oils that cause blemishes.

Because tamanu oil is comedogenic, it's best to mix it with a lighter oil like jojoba when using it as a cleanser. One part tamanu to three parts jojoba is an ideal ratio. Add a splash of frankincense essential oil for extra blemish- and redness-fighting power.

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Bowl of salt beside a bowl of oil

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Oils are commonly combined with natural exfoliants like salt or sugar to create nontoxic, homemade scrubs. To make your own, add a teaspoon of tamanu oil and three tablespoons of sweet almond oil (again, lighter in texture) to one cup of finely ground sea salt. Use a sea salt-Epsom salt mixture for more abrasion, or opt instead for sugar if you fancy a gentler scrub.

Use this DIY tamanu oil salt scrub to exfoliate dry feet, hands, elbows, and other dry patches. Repeat no more than two or three times per week. 

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Nourish Skin With a Serum

Serums are used after cleansing and before moisturizing to deliver active, nourishing ingredients directly to the skin. Because tamanu oil is packed with antioxidants and lipids that mimic the skin's natural fats and serve as a protective barrier, it's a great serum star ingredient. 

Serums are designed to be thinner and absorb quicker than moisturizers, so it's important to dilute tamanu oil with a lighter oil. Try mixing an ounce of tamanu oil with an ounce of rosehip seed oil, half an ounce of pomegranate seed oil, 2 ounces of jojoba oil, and half a teaspoon of vitamin E oil for a basic DIY serum.

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Lock in Moisture

Unrefined shea butter with oils and beeswax

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Tamanu oil has a higher fatty acid content than many other oils, which helps it hydrate skin and lock in your natural moisture. Apply this homemade whip to your most parched patches, particularly in the winter.


  • 3 ounces tamanu oil
  • 2 1/2 ounces shea butter
  • 1/2 ounce beeswax
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon superfine silk powder
  • 1 teaspoon essential oils (optional)


  1. Melt the shea butter and beeswax together using a double boiler over low heat. Once melted, remove from heat.
  2. Whisk arrowroot powder, silk powder, and tamanu oil in a separate bowl.
  3. Whisk together all ingredients until you've achieved a thick and spreadable consistency. Transfer the whip into a jar and let it cool completely before using. 
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Spot-Treat Blemishes

Tamanu oil contains antimicrobial properties that may help zap blemishes. With a potency sometimes compared to tea tree oil, it should be used only in small amounts. Even though you can technically apply tamanu oil directly to your skin, it's best to dilute it first with an equal amount of carrier oil (say, sweet almond or sunflower) to avoid irritation—especially when using to treat sensitive and aggravated skin. 


Tamanu oil should not be used on broken skin or open wounds.

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Accelerate Scarring

Tamanu oil's most prized superpower is perhaps its ability to regenerate skin through promoting cell proliferation and producing collagen and glycosaminoglycan, a fundamental component of skin tissue that supports and maintains structural proteins.

A 2006 study that monitored the scars of hospital patients throughout tamanu oil treatment concluded that the multitasking ingredient reduced the appearance of scars. You may be able to diminish your scars—acne marks included—with a 50/50 tamanu oil/carrier oil solution, just as you would if you were using it as a spot treatment.

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Soothe Chapped Lips

Coconut pieces surrounding jars of cream and oil

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That tamanu oil is a remarkable remedy for dry skin makes it also a natural treatment for parched lips. The best way to apply it is to mix tamanu oil with coconut oil and brush a small amount onto lips before going to bed. Fair warning: It does have a strong earthy smell that some people find unpleasant. Also, keep in mind that the fatty extract should not be ingested, so be careful not to lick your lips after applying it.

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Revive Dull Hair

You can also use versatile tamanu to hydrate dry, frizzy, and damaged hair, ultimately promoting growth and adding sheen. Do this by massaging a few drops directly onto damp split ends and wrapping hair in a warm towel for up to 15 minutes.

For an all-over deep condition, rather, you can whip up an overnight hair mask with two tablespoons each of tamanu and Jamaican oils, one tablespoon of coconut oil, four drops each of lavender oil, cedarwood oil, and thyme oil, and two drops of geranium oil. Massage the mixture into your scalp, then comb it through your strands.

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Add a Dewy Finish to Foundation

A drop of tamanu oil added to your usual liquid foundation (or any type of liquid makeup) will help boost the dewiness of its finish. Simply mix the two on the back of your hand before applying as normal. The slippery consistency created by the added oil will also help the makeup blend in better with your skin.

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Soften Cuticles

Person with colorful nails holding a pipette with oil

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Add a couple of drops of tamanu oil to a small bowl of warm water and soak your hands or feet in it for five minutes to soften cuticles and hydrate skin. This will make the notoriously disagreeable process of pushing back or cutting cuticles easier and less painful.

Alternatively, mix two drops each of sweet almond oil and argan oil and one drop each of tamanu oil and marula oil in an empty, clean nail polish bottle for an economical, planet-friendly, and waste-free cuticle oil.

View Article Sources
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  2. "Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017.

  3. "Improving the Antioxidant Properties of Calophyllum inophyllum Seed Oil from French Polynesia: Development and Biological Applications of Resinous Ethanol-Soluble Extracts." Antioxidants. 2021.

  4. "Étude sur l’huile de Calophyllum inophyllum Travaux cliniques démontrant les propriétés cicatrisantes de l’huile." Phytothérapie. 2006.

  5. "Products and Markets." Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.