Why is Marula Oil my all time favorite face oil and how to navigate around what’s available?

To be fair, Argan Oil should rightfully take credit for the single ingredient facial oil craze that began over a decade ago. This skincare enthusiast, however, had never been persuaded by what the New York Times once referred to as ‘liquid gold’. Then came a bottle of the African Botanics Neroli Infused Marula Oil, which proved to be a complete game-changer in my never ending quest for that perfect, high-performance, natural formula that hydrates, nourishes and treats. Head to toe.

Marula Oil is significantly richer than Argan Oil in both omega essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which include high concentrations of Vitamins C and E. Providing unparalleled protection against free radical damage and collagen loss, it is also more user friendly. Featuring luxuriously silky texture, it absorbs better, faster and provides remarkable restoring, rejuvenating and anti-microbial benefits.

image via pinterest

Completely blown away by the pure and powerful Marula Oil, I’ve ventured outside African Botanics and indulged in offerings from Drunk Elephant and The Ordinary. MSRP per ounce? $100, $72, and $9.90 respectively. There is a fantastic YouTube video by Renée aka The Gothamista comparing the latter two. Curious and intrigued by my almost always gravitating toward the most expensive formula available, I decided to create my very own ‘apples to apples’ test.

The a-ha moment? When ingredients are sourced in remote or underdeveloped parts of the world, there are three questions I consider when contemplating a purchase: Is it organic? Is it fair trade? Is it cold-pressed? I’m terrible at sales and resist twisting anyone’s arm to follow my preference on a single note facial oil, so below is the scoop that blends straight up facts with my personal take on the three most popular formulas.

African Botanics Pure Marula Oil

Derived from the fruit seeds of wild-growing, biodynamic Marula trees, this luxurious oil is bottled at the source using an advanced and patented green technology. The Supercritical Extraction method (no heat nor chemicals are applied), ensures its purity, stability, and potency while the rich golden hue is proof that all nutrients are captured and present. 100% organic and Fair Trade, it is harvested in rural communities of the South African wilderness.

My take: while I really really really prefer the Neroli Infused variation ($120) because of the intoxicating aroma, I adore this OG. So pure it feels like liquid silk, it absorbs in seconds and leaves my skin hydrated for hours. While absolutely fantastic on hair and body, it delivers impressive softness and radiance as a facial treatment. I consider it medium weight with a truly elegant texture. The pleasant botanical fragrance is indeed added and all natural.

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil

The purest of them all, the D.E. Virgin Marula Oil is extracted from the pip of the fruit without heat, cutting, nor deodorizing. Untouched by chemicals or fragrance, the nutrient-dense 100% organic oil maintains its antioxidant and fatty acid profile while staying fresh for at least a couple of years. Sourcing only Fair Trade Marula, the company guarantees the women’s collective receive fair wages and treatment.

My take: It. Is. Rich. Luxurious in texture, the D.E. Marula Oil is my go-to skincare finishing touch on nights I use prescription retinol. This formula feels more viscous than others to me but manages to sink into my moisture craved complexion without leaving a trace behind. Love the packaging, which protects the oil’s stability since it can be compromised from exposure to light.

The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil

Sticking to its guns, The Ordinary brings us a budget friendly option impossible to ignore. Using a cold-pressed extraction method, the unrefined and virgin Marula Oil sourced in Namibia is the most lightweight of the three. It is also almost clear, which may indicate a lesser potency than its high-end counterparts. It does not mean that it feels any less luxe, however.

My take: the least oily of oils. Super user friendly, The Ordinary version works best for me for a boost of moisture and hydration. The attractive price point makes it one I choose to use on my hair and body. Completely odorless, its perfect packaging scores it bonus points… a great introduction to the world of face oils.

When shopping for Marula oil, you’ll want to consider your budget, any anti-aging needs, and your eco-conscious barometer. Who’s it for? All skin types. Why do I love it? It nourishes, protects and calms without clogging pores. Never oily or greasy, it makes my skin feel firmer, springier. It has also helped significantly refine the texture of my skin, which can become rough during the change of seasons. Truly multifaceted, Marula Oil is a constant in my ever changing skincare repertoire and the facial oil I talk most about whenever asked for a recommendation.

Where to get it:

African Botanics: spacenk.com, dermstore.com, net-a-porter.com
Drunk Elephant: drunkelephant.com, sephora.com
The Ordinary: theordinary.com, skinstore.com

*press samples


  1. December 25, 2017 / 12:33 pm

    Hey! Out of the three, is the DE your #1 pick? I’ve also seen the video from Gothamista. I have been *thinking* about buying the DE Marula for a couple of weeks now, and I’m about to pull the trigger!

    • omgbart
      December 25, 2017 / 4:22 pm

      Hey! I actually prefer the African Botanics formula over Drunk Elephant but the DE one is a great deal. AB is just a bit cleaner. I officially phased The Ordinary formula for hair and scalp use. Let me know your thoughts if you end up getting the DE one!! I have a feeling you’re going to love it!

  2. Tiffany
    January 9, 2018 / 5:02 pm

    Very helpful! I just purchased a bundle from AB which includes the Neroli Marula. I was developing buyers remorse and was curious to see how these versions compared. Im willing to pay extra for quality and communities! I cant wait to try it.

    Thanks again!

  3. Heather Lee
    July 2, 2018 / 4:24 pm

    Hello! Which African Botanics do you like better, the neroli or the pure? Thanks!

    • omgbart
      July 2, 2018 / 4:27 pm

      Hey! I’ve used and enjoyed both but while they do perform identically well, I absolutely love the scent of Neroli so I’m a bit biased… xo

Leave a Reply

Read previous post:
Guys – Upgrade Your Fall Skincare Routine with These Grooming Solutions

It’s time for that long overdue round up of solutions just too perfect for any guy to ignore. Whether you’re...