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woman applying tamanu oil to hair in front of bathroom mirror in towel

Tamanu Oil for Hair: Benefits, Uses, and Recipes

Tamanu Oil is a natural oil from the tamanu trees of Asia and Africa. This centuries-old beauty extract has a potent concentration of fatty acids, making it ideal for nourishing the hair to promote growth. And with its potential for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, Tamanu Oil may soothe and moisturize the scalp for overall hair health.

In this article, we will go over the origins of Tamanu Oil, its numerous benefits, and how it can be used for optimal hair health.

What Is Tamanu Oil?

tamanu blossoms by leaves

The tamanu tree, also known as Calophyllum inophyllum, is native to Africa and Asia, and grown in many coastal regions worldwide. Various parts of the tree, including its flowers, stem, and bark, were used in folk medicine for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

The nuts produced by the tree are used to extract Tamanu Oil, which is usually obtained through cold-pressing. Cold-pressing is a method of extracting oil that involves squeezing the tamanu nuts and collecting the oil that comes out of them. Tamanu Oil has traditionally been used to heal skin infections and reduce the severity of scars. Additionally, in Fiji, Tamanu Oil has been used as a pain-relieving treatment and as a therapeutic agent for other conditions.

The phytochemical composition of Tamanu Oil is impressive, as it contains many beneficial compounds that may improve skin and hair health. Some of the main components of Tamanu Oil include flavonoids and phenolic acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Flavonoids are a type of plant pigment that are known for their antioxidant effects, and they are found in high concentrations in Tamanu Oil. Phenolic acids exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce redness in the skin.

Tamanu Oil has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, but in recent years, it has become more popular in the beauty industry as well. Tamanu Oil is now commonly used in skincare products, hair care products, and massage blends as a carrier oil. 

Specifically, Tamanu Oil contains a high content of fatty acids that may moisturize the scalp and hair, and potentially prevent breakage. Tamanu Oil can be used as a leave-in treatment, or it can be added to your regular shampoo or conditioner for some extra hydration.

Benefits of Tamanu Oil For Hair

The nutritional composition of Tamanu Oil contributes to its therapeutic properties, including nourishing the scalp, protecting the hair from sun damage, and more. Below are some of the science-backed benefits of Tamanu Oil for your hair. 

High Fatty Acid Content May Nourish The Hair

Tamanu Oil contains numerous fatty acid compounds, which are moisturizing wax-like substances. The fatty acids present in Tamanu Oil include stearic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, and more.

Hair is composed of 85% fatty acids, which makes Tamanu Oil a great way to promote healthy hair growth and nourishment. The presence of stearic acid in Tamanu Oil provides the hair with a protective barrier that helps prevent moisture loss. 

Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, is known for its hydrating properties, contributing to the maintenance of hair elasticity and preventing breakage. Oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid, adds to the moisturizing effect, promoting a smooth and glossy appearance.

Applying Tamanu Oil to the hair creates a barrier around the hair strands, preventing water from penetrating the hair shaft. This water-repelling activity helps the fatty acids in Tamanu Oil to seal in moisture, while preventing water damage and swelling of the hair's cuticle. In addition, Tamanu Oil contributes to the overall health of the hair by providing a natural shine and improving manageability.

Antioxidant Properties May Protect Hair From UV Damage

Tamanu Oil contains antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids that may help to scavenge or collect free radical molecules, which are reactive substances that can damage skin cells. When exposed to the sun's rays, the skin and scalp produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) which contribute to poor scalp health, collagen damage, degradation of hair proteins, and dry, brittle hair. The topical application of Tamanu Oil to the scalp and hair may protect the hair from UV damage. 

In one lab study, the application of Calophyllum inophyllum extracts to a special mixture resulted in the inhibition of ROS production. This suggests that Tamanu Oil may be effective at protecting the hair from UV damage and improving scalp health.

Beauty consumers are more aware of the negative effects of environmental damage on the scalp and hair. By incorporating Tamanu Oil into hair care products, including shampoos and leave-in conditioners, its potential antioxidant properties may offer a natural solution for better hair health. These formulations have the potential to address common hair concerns such as dryness, frizz, and brittleness, and also provide a layer of defense against environmental factors like sun exposure.

Antifungal Activity Could Possibly Reduce Dandruff

Tamanu Oil has been shown to have powerful antimicrobial activity against various bacterial and fungal substances. In one research study, the extracts of the tamanu plant were effective against gram positive bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). The ability to combat S. aureus bacteria is particularly relevant in the context of scalp conditions like atopic dermatitis, where S. aureus colonization is frequently observed and can exacerbate the inflammatory response.

Tamanu extracts were also shown to be effective against certain fungi, such as Candida albicans. This fungus is responsible for certain types of scalp irritation and flaky skin, contributing to dandruff.

Tamanu Oil's mechanism of action involves two key aspects. Firstly, it may directly inhibit microbial organisms that can contribute to scalp irritation. Secondly, it shows the potential to boost skin immunity by enhancing the body's defense systems against these microbes. Specifically, tamanu extracts may help the skin to release β-defensin 2, which is an antimicrobial peptide. The combination of these actions shows that Tamanu Oil is a promising candidate for reducing dandruff and promoting overall scalp health.

Tamanu Oil May Reduce Scalp Irritation and Redness

Scalp inflammation is an issue that can ultimately lead to a lack of hair growth. It is marked by redness, irritation, and itching of the scalp, and when the inflammatory process begins, the body tries to repair the scalp by initiating new tissue growth. If not treated promptly, ongoing inflammation can lead to further complications. 

Fortunately, Tamanu Oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that may combat scalp inflammation. When applied to skin cells, it has been found to reduce the activity of inflammatory enzymes such as proteinase K and lipid oxygenase. Moreover, studies in mice have shown that Tamanu Oil also contains a compound called calophyllolide. This compound works by decreasing the production of inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-α and IL-1β, which both contribute to the inflammatory response. 

Tamanu Oil can be helpful in hair products by soothing an inflamed scalp and protecting the scalp from irritation caused by harsh chemicals in shampoos and other scalp products. By reducing inflammation, Tamanu Oil may protect the hair and scalp from these stressors, preventing damage and promoting healthy hair growth.

Uses and Recipes 

Tamanu Oil is a versatile ingredient because it can be incorporated into most hair products by adding a few drops into a small amount of the formulation. For example, to increase the moisturizing properties of your shampoo, you can add 2-3 drops of Tamanu Oil to a small dollop of the product and massage it into the scalp as usual. 

The oil's fatty acid content can help mitigate some of the drying effects of the surfactants or cleansers in the shampoo. You can add some of the Tamanu Oil to virtually any hair care product to enhance its nourishing effects, including hair conditioners, hair masks, leave-in conditioning treatments, and frizz serums. 

You can also use Tamanu Oil to make customized hair care formulations using other natural ingredients, including essential oils, to make the perfect blends for your hair type and texture. Below are a few recipes to create your own hair products to potentially help with hair growth, improve hair health, and manage frizz.

Nourishing Hair Mask


  • 15 mL of Tamanu Oil
  • 5 mL of Coconut Oil
  • 3 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil


In a clean bowl, thoroughly combine the ingredients together. The Tamanu Oil and Coconut Oil provide a nourishing mix of hair-protecting ingredients, while the Rosemary Essential Oil may help with hair growth. Apply the mixture to the scalp and ends of your hair, leave on for 30 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Wash with your favorite shampoo and conditioner as usual.

Refreshing Scalp Scrub


  • 15 mL of Tamanu Oil
  • 10 g of white granulated sugar
  • 2 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil


In a small container, mix the ingredients together. This scalp scrub may remove flaky skin and dandruff while nourishing the scalp with natural ingredients. Wet your hair. Apply the scrub to the scalp and gently massage in circular motions. Then, rinse thoroughly and finish with shampoo and conditioner. 

Smoothing Frizz Serum


  • 15 mL of Tamanu Oil
  • 3 drops of Lavender Essential Oil


In a glass dropper bottle, add the ingredients and shake gently to combine. After washing your hair, add 1-2 drops of the blend to damp hair to tame frizz and flyaways. Style hair as usual for soft, shiny, manageable hair. 

Tamanu Oil FAQ

To effectively use Tamanu Oil for hair health, it is important to understand the frequency of use and what hair types work best with this oil. To help you get the best results, below are some answers to frequently asked questions about Tamanu Oil.

How Often Should I Use Tamanu Oil For Hair?

The frequency of use for Tamanu Oil for your hair depends on different factors, including expected results and personal preferences. If you're using Tamanu Oil for hair growth, you can stimulate the scalp through a massage with the oil to nourish the scalp and potentially promote growth. For this, you can use a hair mask or massage blend 1-2 times per week before you wash your hair. You can adjust the frequency as needed according to your hair's response to the oil. 

If you're using Tamanu Oil as a frizz serum, you can apply it daily in small amounts to avoid greasy or weighted hair. It may help tame flyaways, add shine, and protect hair from environmental stressors. You can apply it on slightly damp or dry hair, depending on your preference. Another way to use Tamanu Oil for hair is by adding it to your shampoo or conditioner each time you wash your hair. It can help moisturize your hair and scalp, leaving it shiny.

Consistent use of Tamanu Oil over several weeks is recommended to achieve optimal results for hair. While some individuals may observe an improvement in the texture and appearance of their hair after just a few uses, others may need longer periods of use for noticeable changes.

Does Tamanu Oil Have Any Side Effects?

Like all topical products, both natural and synthetic, there is a chance that you can have an allergic reaction to the product when applied to the body. Therefore, it is important to patch test Tamanu Oil to ensure you are not allergic to it. 

To complete the patch test, apply 1-2 drops of the oil to the inside of your wrist or back of your ear. Let the product sit on the skin for a 24-hour period. Monitor the site for any adverse reactions. If there are no negative effects, such as redness, itching, swelling, or inflammation, then you can continue to use the product as needed. 

Tamanu Oil is generally well-tolerated due to its beneficial composition of compounds, leading to its possible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Tamanu Oil is a natural product that does not contain any synthetic or harsh additives, making it gentle for use on sensitive skin and less likely to cause side effects when used topically.

Is Tamanu Oil Suitable for All Hair Types?

Tamanu Oil is a versatile hair care product that is suitable for all hair types - straight, wavy, curly, coily, fine, and thick. The amount of Tamanu Oil used will depend on the thickness and texture of the hair. 

For thinner hair, it is recommended to use a small amount of Tamanu Oil as a frizz serum. Since Tamanu Oil is a rich, nourishing oil, using too much may weigh down fine hair. On the other hand, for thicker, dryer hair, more Tamanu Oil may be required to moisturize and nourish the strands. 

When it comes to curly hair, Tamanu Oil can be used as a natural styling solution to define curls and reduce frizz. Use a small amount of Tamanu Oil on wet hair and scrunch to enhance the natural curls. For straight hair, Tamanu Oil can be used to add shine and reduce frizz, without weighing the hair down. 

It is important to note that Tamanu Oil is a slightly thick oil and should be used in moderation. For best results, start with a small amount of oil and gradually increase as needed, based on the thickness and texture of your hair. 

Can I Mix Tamanu Oil With Other Oils?

Tamanu Oil blends well with various other oils, allowing you to improve its therapeutic properties and tailor it to your specific skin care needs. Mixing Tamanu Oil with complementary oils can promote skin nourishment and moisture. Essential oils, such as chamomile, can also be incorporated for its additional aromatic and therapeutic advantages. 

These combinations cater to individual preferences in terms of scent and texture. Experimenting with different oil combinations allows you to create personalized blends that address specific skin concerns, making the application of these oils a more tailored and enjoyable part of your skincare routine. You can also mix Tamanu Oil with other oils like argan oil to improve the consistency of the oil and increase its moisturizing properties.

The Best Tamanu Oil to Use for Hair

woman applying tamanu oil to long brown hair from dropper

The health of your hair is dependent on many factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and the products you use. To ensure your hair receives the care it needs, opt for high-quality, natural products to avoid damaged and brittle hair. When it comes to choosing the right Tamanu Oil for overall hair health, it's essential to choose a high-quality product, such as the Tamanu Oil from Wholesale Botanics.

At Wholesale Botanics, we provide you with a vegan, responsibly sourced, natural product that is cold-pressed to retain its nutrient-rich composition. We also offer access to a Certificate of Analysis to confirm the purity, scent, and quality of our Tamanu Oil for your peace of mind.

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