Even if you haven’t heard of baobab oil, you might recognize the tree it comes from. The baobab tree has a tall, thick trunk and looks like it’s upside down with its roots in the air.

This fruit tree grows in the southern countries of Africa, such as Malawi, Kenya, and Madagascar.

The scientific name for the baobab tree is Adansonia digitata. In Africa, people call it “the tree of life” and “pharmacy tree” because of its many uses, including for baobab oil.

Is baobab oil comedogenic?

No. Baobab oil has comedogenic rating of 2. This means that it won’t clog most people’s pores.

But if you have sensitive skin or oily skin, using oils like the baobab’s can cause clogged pores and other skin irritation.

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Baobab oil is cold-pressed from seeds for various uses, from cooking to hair care to skin care.

Baobab oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other fats, including:

  • palmitic acid
  • oleic acid
  • linolenic acid
  • linoleic acid

Clinical research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids in baobab oil have several health benefits for the skin. They can:

  • moisturize
  • help prevent water loss from the skin
  • soften skin
  • improve skin texture
  • improve skin elasticity
  • help repair the skin barrier
  • help to heal skin faster
  • reduce inflammation

In fact, linoleic acids and linolenic acids are some of the most commonly used fatty acids in skin care, cosmetics, and hair care around the world.

Baobab oil may also help to treat eczema. The omega-3 fatty acids in this oil may help heal the skin’s barrier and lock in moisture when it’s used as a topical skin treatment. This can help heal or soothe an eczema rash.

Baobab fruit and seed nutritional benefits

Baobab fruit pulp has 7 to 10 times more vitamin C than an orange. Both the fruit and seeds also contain several other essential minerals and vitamins, like:

  • calcium
  • iron
  • vitamin B
  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • manganese

In areas where the baobab tree grows, local people use every part of the tree. The fruit, leaves, seeds, and oil processed from the seeds are used in nutritional supplements, food, and skin care.

A clinical trial found that baobab oil may help improve acne in some people. This is because it’s high in linoleic acid, a kind of omega-3 fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties.

For this reason, baobab oil may help reduce skin redness, irritation, and swelling to treat acne.

Other medical research reports that using baobab oil as a scalp treatment may help prevent or treat dandruff and skin flaking.

The high omega-3 fatty acid in baobab oil is also good for your hair. When used as a hair mask or a leave-in conditioner, baobab oil may help moisturize dry hair and strengthen weak, brittle hair.

Baobab fruit and oil aren’t high in protein. The oil may not repair damaged hair like other protein-rich hair products can.

It’s not known how much of the nutrients from baobab fruit and seeds remain in the oil after it’s cold-pressed or stored.

However, there are still many benefits of using baobab oil as a food and natural skin and hair care product.

If you have very oily, acne-prone, or sensitive skin, use baobab oil sparingly. It may block some people’s pores, which can cause or worsen acne. It may also lead to skin irritation or rash in some people.

  • Know the ingredient name. Check hair and skin care products for baobab oil. It may be listed as:
    • baobab seed oil
    • Adansonia digitate oil
    • Adansonia oil
  • Look for cold-pressed. If you’re buying pure baobab oil, look for cold-pressed and unrefined varieties.
  • Read the label. Most baobab oil products are for cosmetic use only and not for cooking. Check the label carefully.
  • Test on a patch of skin. If you’re using baobab oil on your skin, hair, or scalp for the first time, do a patch test. Place a small amount of oil on your inner elbow and wait 24 hours. If you don’t experience any redness or itching, you should be able to safely use the baobab oil.

Where to buy baobab oil

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Research has found that baobab fruit also contains several chemicals that have health benefits. One of these is called hydroxycinnamic acid glycoside.

This chemical may give baobab fruit medicinal properties. These properties are:

  • antibacterial
  • antiviral
  • antifungal
  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory

Every part of the baobab tree has been studied and tested for its many nutritional benefits. Baobab fruit is included in many food supplements because it’s high in several essential vitamins and minerals.

The European Commission approved dried baobab fruit pulp as a novel food in 2008 for its nutritional value. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration approved baobab fruit as a food product in 2009.

Local people often use baobab fruit in its dried form. It’s mixed with water or milk and made into drinks, sauces, and soups.

Baobab fruit powder is used as a food thickener and as a replacement for cream in cooking and baking.

Baobab fruit, leaves, and bark are traditionally used as medicines in the body and on the skin to help treat:

  • excess appetite
  • fever
  • pain
  • cough
  • sore muscles
  • skin wounds
  • weak immune system
  • diarrhea
  • dysentery
  • tuberculosis
  • worms

More clinical research is needed on the many benefits of the baobab tree, including baobab oil.

Boabab oil, like other products of the baobab tree, has several health properties. The high omega-3 fatty acid content of this seed oil might make it beneficial for your skin and hair.

Baobab oil is used in many commercial skin and hair products. You can also use pure baobab oil as a skin moisturizer and hair treatment. Be sure to do a patch test to make sure it suits your skin first.