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Monoi oil is an infused oil made from soaking petals of the Tiaré flower — also known as the Tahitian gardenia — in pure coconut oil. Both the flower and oil are native to French Polynesia.

For centuries, Polynesians used the oil to anoint newborns, purify objects, and moisturize their hair and skin.

Today, monoi oil is admired for its delicate fragrance and its many skin and hair care benefits. Keep reading to learn more about this beneficial oil.

Hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, monoi oil is made predominantly of coconut oil. As such, it carries many of the same benefits as coconut oil.

For the skin

Coconut oil is an antibacterial, highly saturated oil rich in fatty acids. Fatty acids contain antimicrobial properties that can protect against harmful fungi and bacteria known to cause a number of skin infections, such as:

Applying coconut oil-rich monoi oil directly to the skin can help to protect against these conditions. Monoi oil can also act as an anti-inflammatory that can reduce symptoms from known skin conditions, including eczema and contact dermatitis.

The coconut oil present in monoi can restore and retain moisture on the skin to protect against dryness, keep out bacteria, and promote healing.

For the hair and scalp

Monoi oil can also help nourish the scalp and hair.

According to a 2003 study, coconut oil in comparison to sunflower oil and mineral oils has a higher affinity for hair proteins and is able to effectively penetrate the hair shaft.

Coconut oil can also reduce protein loss for both damaged and undamaged hair when used in pre-wash and post-wash hair care. As a result, using monoi oil in your hair will not only help to restore moisture and nutrients, but will also help hair:

  • grow stronger
  • shine brighter
  • reduce split ends
  • reduce frizz

A Polynesian treasure

Regarded as a regional treasure, the French government passed an appellation of origin — or appellation d’origine — for monoi oil as a cosmetic item. This French law requires that a product is labeled monoi only if it’s made in French Polynesia.

Monoi oil can be used for a number of purposes, including:

  • pre-shampoo and shampoo
  • conditioner
  • skin and hair moisturizer
  • facial moisturizer
  • cuticle oil
  • bath oil
  • massage oil

Monoi oil is generally safe to use. Unlike pure coconut oil, however, it’s perfumed. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, consult a doctor or dermatologist before incorporating this oil into your daily hair and skin care routines.

As a body moisturizer, use monoi oil as you would coconut oil, and massage it into your skin daily. You can use the oil by itself or add it to your favorite moisturizer for an added effect. You can even add the oil to your bath to increase the hydration of your skin.

On shampoo days, you can add the oil to your scalp as a pre-shampoo treatment before washing. This helps to soften the hair, detangle, and loosen built-up product.

For added moisture, you can even add a few tablespoons to your favorite conditioner to increase shine and hydration.

Monoi oil is generally safe to use. Unlike pure coconut oil, however, it’s perfumed. Also, there’s limited research into its effectiveness as a skin moisturizer or hair care product.

Before incorporating into your daily skin care or hair routine, perform a patch test to detect any allergies. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, consult a doctor or dermatologist before incorporating monoi oil into your daily hair and skin care routines.

If you begin to experience any irregular symptoms or side effects, stop use immediately. If you’re allergic to coconuts or coconut oil, do not use monoi oil without confirmation from a doctor.

Monoi oil is rich in nutrients and carries many health properties, thanks to the strong presence of coconut oil. While its effects are assumed to be similar to those of coconut oil, more research needs to be done to confirm its influence on skin and hair health.

As with any alternative skin or hair care product, consult a doctor or dermatologist before using. If you begin to experience any adverse reactions, stop use immediately.