Tamanu oil – the panacea amongst oils

Welcome to the first post from our new “Hello Ingredient!” series, where we will talk about the facts and properties of the ingredients we use, based on scientific research out there.

In this post we crack the science behind tamanu oil. Why did we choose this oil for our first post from this series? It’s because this oil is nothing but miraculous – even when you get familiar with the science bit.

So let begin!

Common name

Tamanu oil, Beauty Leaf, Alexandrian laurel

INCI name

Calophyllum Inophyllum Oil

Geographical distribution of the plant

Central and East Africa; a north-to-south swath of India; Southeast Asia; Polynesia; the Philippines; and Australia

Part of plant used


Appearance and smell

Dark green. Sweet nutty smell.

Absorption rate

Rapid. Non-greasy.

Comedogenic rating (0-5)


Traditional use

Tamanu is considered a sacred plant in Polynesia. Since millennia it has been used there for treating wounds, burns, insect bites, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema, and to reduce foot and body odour. Tamanu oil is also applied to the skin to relieve neuralgia, rheumatism and sciatica. Polynesian women use the oil to promote healthy, clear, blemish-free skin and to prevent diaper rash and skin eruptions in babies.

Scientifically proven properties

Skin repair

Tamanu oil improves skin proliferation (i.e. forming of new skin cells). When tamanu oil was applied to wounds, an increased collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGS - a family of carbohydrates that help with the maintenance and support of collagen and elastin) production was observed. Therefore, the wound healed quicker with new tissue. Collagen, elastin and GAGs are incredibly important building blocks of our skin. They provide integrity, firmness and elasticity to the skin cells – resulting in healthy, youthful appearance.


Some of the polyphenols contained in the tamanu oil have been proven to exert antioxidant and cell protective effects. Tamanu is also known to contain an abundance of phytosterols (stigmasterol being a potent antioxidant) – as well as delta-tocotrienol, a form of vitamin E. Put in plain English, tamanu oil helps keep the skin cells healthy for longer, therefore potentially delaying the effects of aging. It was even shown that tamanu oil protects the cells from UV damage, displaying a sun protection factor ranging from 18 to 22, although more studies are needed before we start using it as sunscreen.


Tamanu oil has the ability to inhibit the growth of both gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Researchers think that this is due to the presence of four coumarins in the nuts (calaustralin, calophyllolide, inophyllum C, inophyllum E). The inhibition of microbial growth is in turn linked to improved skin healing. Tamanu oil is also very good in fighting Propionibacterium acnes and Propionibacterium granulosum, both involved in acne. Reduction in microbial growth, together with improved moisture balance and rebuilding of the skin lipid layer leads to relief from the acne symptoms and balances sebum production.


Scientists have identified the xanthone compounds in Tamanu Oil to have anti-inflammatory activity and an ability to reduce swelling and irritation upon topical application. In addition, callophyllolide isolated from the seed oil has been found in studies to reduce histamine related inflammation and swelling of tissues. Tamanu has also been documented to relieve pain, something particularly valuable to sufferers from uncomfortable skin conditions.

Scar reduction

One promising study by A. C. Dweck and T. Meadows has shown, that test subjects with aged scars had reported measurable improvement in scar appearance after using tamanu for nine consecutive weeks. The improvement was noticeable form week six onwards. Taking into account the scale of the study, however, more research needs to be done for this property of tamanu oil to be considered beyond that of traditional wisdom.

Our products containing ORGANIC, COLD-PRESSED AND UNREFINED tamanu oil:

1. Day Face Oil – Normal and Combination Skin – to moisturise, repair, elasticate, fight break outs and regulate sebum production

2. “Calm down” - Aftershave and Wax oil – to calm, reduce redness, heal, moisturise, prevent red spots and itching

3. “Smooth Operator” – Body Butter – to moisturise, elasticate, repair, slow down aging, reduce itching and inflammation and improve appearance of scars


1. Léguillier T, Lecsö-Bornet M, Lémus C, Rousseau-Ralliard D, Lebouvier N, Hnawia E, et al. (2015) The Wound Healing and Antibacterial Activity of Five Ethnomedical Calophyllum inophyllum Oils: An Alternative Therapeutic Strategy to Treat Infected Wounds. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0138602. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0138602

2. A. C. Dweck and T. Meadows. (2002) Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) – the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 341–348, December 2002

3. Ansel JL, Lupo E, Mijouin L, Guillot S, Butaud JF, Ho R, Lecellier G, Raharivelomanana P, Pichon C. (2016) Biological Activity of Polynesian Calophyllum inophyllum Oil Extract on Human Skin Cells. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0042-108205 Published online Planta Med © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York · ISSN 0032-0943

4. Said T, Dutot M, Martin C, Beaudeux JL, Boucher C, Enee E, Baudouin C, Warnet JM, Rat P. (2007) Cytoprotective effect against UV-induced DNA damage and oxidative stress: role of new biological UV filter. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2007 Mar;30(3-4):203-10. Epub 2006 Nov 9.

5. Said T, Dutot M, Labbé A, Warnet JM, Rat P. (2009) Ocular burn: rinsing and healing with ionic marine solutions and vegetable oils. Ophthalmologica. 2009;223(1):52-9. doi: 10.1159/000172618. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

6. Tsai SC, Liang YH, Chiang JH, Liu FC, Lin WH, Chang SJ, Lin WY, Wu CH, Weng JR. (2012) Anti-inflammatory effects of Calophyllum inophyllum L. in RAW264.7 cells. Oncol Rep. 2012 Sep;28(3):1096-102. doi: 10.3892/or.2012.1873. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

7. Crane S, Aurore G, Joseph H, Mouloungui Z, Bourgeois P. (2005) Composition of fatty acids triacylglycerols and unsaponifiable matter in Calophyllum calaba L. oil from Guadeloupe. Phytochemistry. 2005 Aug;66(15):1825-31.

8. He L, Mo H, Hadisusilo S, Qureshi AA, Elson CE. (1997) Isoprenoids suppress the growth of murine B16 melanomas in vitro and in vivo. J Nutr. 1997 May;127(5):668-74.

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