Mongongo Oil: What Is it and Should You Use it?
When it comes to beauty, skincare, and general wellness, everybody seems to go crazy over anything that seems to be brand-new; we always want to be keeping up with the latest trends and fashions. Of course, sometimes the older things are just as good as the things that are just recently being discovered or put on the market.
In many cases, taking inspiration for your beauty and skincare routines from ancient and natural ingredients can be much better for your skin, appearances, and overall health. Many people are beginning to realize this now, which is why natural ingredients such as ancient oils have become all the rage lately.
What Is Mongongo Oil?
Mongongo oil, also sometimes referred to as Manketti seed oil or Manketti Oil, has been getting a lot of attention on the Internet lately from small and large blogs alike. This oil is derived from nuts that can be found on the Mongongo tree, scientifically named Schinziophyton rautanenii of the Euphorbiaceae family, which is native to the southern parts of Africa.
The Mongongo tree doesn’t actually bear fruit until it reaches the ripe age of 25 years when its flowers bloom and produce their ovular fruits that could be compared to plums. The fruits are green and fuzzy on the outside and are typically loved by elephants due to their sweet taste. As the fruit matures, the flesh that surrounds the nut softens and begins to taste more similar to a date.
Mongongo oil is extracted from the nuts of the Mongongo tree using a cold-press method, which means that the oil has more highly concentrated nutrients and a stronger aroma than those that have been processed with heat.
The oil is rich in Vitamin E, Omega-6, magnesium, calcium, iron, and copper. It also contains other vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, thiamine, nicotinic acid, and y-tocopherol.
The oil also contains eleostearic acid, which is great for protecting the skin and hair from environmental stressors; overall, the nutrients in mongongo oil provide regenerating, restructuring, hydrating, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Mongongo oil may be getting a lot of attention now but it’s been used for centuries and praised for its high nutritive value, typically in skin and hair treatments. Traditionally, it has been used by natives in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The fruit itself is a very popular food as well in the areas of northern Namibia and Botswana.
Because of the high protein (25%) and fat (around 50%) content, the oil can also be used in cooking; however, it is primarily used in applications to the skin and hair. One of the greatest things about mongongo oil is that it’s suitable for long-term storage and won’t go rancid, unlike many other natural oils.
With that said, cold-pressed oils such as mongongo oil are best when stored in cool, dark places and brought to room temperature if previously refrigerated before use.
Mongongo Oil Comedogenic Rating
Almost every natural oil that is used in skincare has been given a comedogenic rating or has at least been discussed on the scale. A comedogenic rating is given to determine how likely an oil or other substance is to irritate your skin or clog your pores.
The rating is given on a scale from zero to five with the lower numbers representing oils or substances that are unlikely to irritate most people’s skin. Keep in mind that everybody’s skin is different. These ratings should only be taken as advice to consider when choosing an oil or other substance to include in your skincare routine. Speak with your doctor or test out a little bit of the substance on a small area of your skin to see if it will affect your skin negatively.
While mongongo oil has not necessarily been given a specific comedogenic rating, it has been discussed on the scale. Generally speaking, oils that are higher in oleic acid are more likely to irritate your skin and oils that are higher in linoleic acid are safer for people with sensitive skin.
Mongongo oil contains about 18% oleic acid and 45% to 55% linoleic acid, which means that it is likely safe for people with oily or sensitive skin. It is not likely that Mongongo oil will clog your pores or make your acne worse.
Benefits of Mongongo Oil
Mongongo oil is mainly used topically because of its range of potential skin benefits but it can also be used on your hair. These are some of the major health benefits of mongongo oil :
Most everyone know by now just how important antioxidants are for you general health and your skin. Mongongo oil is a rich source of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant and an essential ally to your skin.
The antioxidants found in mongongo oil help protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals caused by environmental pollutants, sun exposure and other factors. It can help reverse the signs of premature aging and may help reduce wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.
Vitamin E has a number of other vital roles. It can help reduce inflammation, redness and irritation and may help to expedite the healing process when your skin is damaged.
Mongongo oil is an excellent general moisturizer for your skin. When applied topically, the oil can help form a protective barrier which stops the moisture from escaping. It can help keep your skin feeling soft, hydrated, healthy and supple.
Certain compounds in mongongo oil like oleic acid have emollient properties that further help to hydrate the skin and keep it moist while helping you skin absorb important nutrients.
Studies have also demonstrated that linoleic acid helps protect the skin from external pollutants while keeping the skin soft and healthy. (1)
Inflammatory Skin Conditions
Mongongo oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve swelling, redness and irritation of the skin. Although there are no specific studies into its effects, it may well help treat common skin complaints like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
You could use mongongo oil alone but for an extra benefit, try adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil for the condition.
Protection from the Sun
The antioxidant compounds and the fatty acids found in mongongo oil work together to protect against sun damage. You can apply mongongo oil to areas of your skin that are exposed to the sun to form a protective barrier against the sun’s UV rays.
Mongongo oil can also help to relieve damage to the skin caused by the sun, soothe burns and ease inflammation caused by the sun.
Boost the Production of Collagen
Applying mongongo oil to your skin can also help boost the skin’s production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that plays an essential role in the skin’s structure and elasticity. As we get older, so the body loses its ability to produce collagen. Vitamin E can actually stimulate the production of the protein even as we age by inhibiting an enzyme that reduces collagen production. (2)
By boosting the production of collagen, your skin will retain its integrity, health and elasicity for longer.
For Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Applying some of this antioxidant rich oil to your skin can help diminish the appearance of wrinkles, lines and other blemishes linked to aging. Vitamin E is a very effective antioxidant that could help make your skin look younger and healthier by reversing the effects of free radical damage on the skin.
According to a limited amount of research, vitamin E might help diminish the appearance of scars over time. Unfortunately, the results are inconclusive with some showing it has a positive (3) effect and others noting it was no more effective than a placebo. (4)
The high content of fatty acids in mongongo oil are not just a tonic for the skin. Linoleic acid and oleic acid are vital to the production of sebum and oils that keep your hair healthy and help to unblock the pores on your scalp.
Mongongo oil is a great conditioner because of its hydrating and restructuring properties. By applying this oil to your hair, you can add shine and life to your locks. It can also help protect against damage from the sun and other environmental pollutants.
As well as being great for your hair, it also nourishes the scalp and the follicles helping your hair grow thick and strong.
Why Mongongo Oil Works
Because of the many valuable nutrients that can be found in mongongo oil, adding this oil to your skin or hair care routines could provide several benefits that are hard to deny or ignore. With that said, every person may experience different benefits from skin and hair treatments such as mongongo oil as every person’s body is different and may react differently to the use of substances such as this. Of course, with so many great benefits, everybody is sure to experience something positive from the use of mongongo oil.
The high amounts of linoleic acid present in this oil mean that your body will be provided with an essential fatty acid that it simply cannot produce on its own. If you don’t have enough of these essential fatty acids, your skin barrier will be damaged, causing you to be more vulnerable to things such as ultraviolet rays, bacteria, infections, and dehydration. A lack of essential fatty acids for the skin is often what leads to skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Eleostearic acid is a conjugated fatty acid that is found to be highly concentrated in the fat profile of mongongo oil. This fatty acid has been studied to be beneficial in preventing and suppressing cancerous tumors in the body. It can also be used as a protectant from the sun and it has often been used over time as a natural sunscreen option for both the skin and hair.
Although large amounts of it can make an oil unsuitable for people with sensitive or oily skin, oleic acid still has many beneficial properties. Oleic acid is a natural emollient, which means that it can help to moisturize and hydrate the skin. It also allows the skin to absorb valuable nutrients more efficiently as well as moisture. Oleic acid can also be used as a gentle cleanser.
Another essential fatty acid that can be found in mongongo oil is palmitic acid. This fatty acid has emollient, surfactant, and occlusive properties that can help to soften and moisturize the skin while keeping it clean. If an oil has too much palmitic acid, it may cause the skin to dry but mongongo oil has a healthy amount present of around 8%.
Although the acid is found and produced naturally in the dermis, we can lose more than 50% of it as we age so using an oil that contains this essential fatty acid is great for adding balance as you age and promoting anti-aging.
Vitamin E is a very popular vitamin that almost everybody can easily recognize but not many people fully know all of the incredible benefits that this vitamin can provide. Vitamin E is a very strong antioxidant that is often used for anti-aging treatments due to its ability to stop damage caused by free radicals.
This vitamin can also provide some protection from ultraviolet rays while repairing wrinkles that may have been caused by excessive sun exposure. Vitamin E is also great for reducing swelling and inflammation as well as healing wounds quickly.
Mongongo oil is also rich in protein, as it makes up about 25% of the oil. You hear about protein all the time and that’s because it is absolutely essential for healthy cells and can promote better health for your bones, muscles, and blood as well as your nails, hair, and skin.
Typically, you might think of proteins as being present in food but applying them topically is often much more effective. Protein helps promote elasticity of the skin as well as faster healing and higher collagen production. Everything you want to minimize aging.
Even the vitamins and minerals that aren’t as strongly present in mongongo oil are still highly beneficial when used in your skin or hair care routines. Magnesium has been popularly used since ancient times as a treatment for dry skin and inflammation. Zinc is also a very important mineral that promotes healthy skin and is a powerful antioxidant that can help treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne, and even dandruff.
The Bottom Line
Overall, mongongo oil is so packed full of essential nutrients that it’s hard to deny how much of an important addition it would be to any skin and hair routine. You can use it as a sunscreen or as a treatment to add glow and shine to both your skin and hair. The oil could also be used to treat damaged or inflamed skin.
Although the oil should be safe for most people, even those with oily or sensitive skin, you should always speak with your doctor or test it out on a small portion of your skin before adding it to your skincare routine. Everybody’s skin is different and some people may still react poorly even if a substance is “supposed” to be safe for their type of skin.