Skin conditions and sensitive skin not only cause discomfort but can affect daily routines and impact lifestyle. This can include what foods can and can’t be eaten, what skincare products are safe to use and which clothes are free from triggering skin irritations.
Natural remedies are increasingly being sought, and this is where mānuka oil comes into the spotlight. It is a natural remedy to help nourish and protect skin, help reduce the redness and inflammation associated with skin conditions, minimize signs of ageing and protect skin from infection.
In this article, find out how mānuka oil is changing the natural remedy options for many aspects of skin care.
What is Mānuka Oil?
A native of New Zealand and originating from the Myrtaceae family, mānuka oil is extracted from the leaves and branches of the evergreen mānuka tree which is scientifically known as Leptospermum scoparium.
Mānuka is already internationally well-regarded for the honey produced from its flowers. Mānuka oil is harvested from the same mānuka plant but not from its flowers.
Understanding Mānuka Oil’s DNA
Mānuka is a pioneer plant, making mānuka oil a potent natural remedy with multifaceted benefits. Mānuka oil consists of three prominent chemotypes (plants with different chemistry): monoterpenes (which include α-pinene and β-pinene), triketones (which include flavesone, iso-leptospermone and leptospermone) and sesquiterpenes (which include α-eudesmol, β-eudesmol, α-caryophyllene, and β-caryophyllene)—resulting in an oil that is rich in natural compounds that kill and stop the growth of microorganisms, making mānuka oil antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.
It’s important to know that not all mānuka oils are the same as the region where mānuka oil is sourced from determines its level of antimicrobial activity:
- The Northland region has mānuka oil that has high levels of monoterpenes and α-pinene and β-pinene.
- The East Cape and Marlborough Sounds regions have mānuka oil with high levels of triketones.
- Other geographical regions around New Zealand feature mānuka oil with low concentrations of monoterpenes and a complex combination of sesquiterpenes.
Mānuka oil contains triketones (MßTK™) that are known for their antibacterial and antifungal properties. Scientific studies have shown that mānuka oil, which is abundant with triketones, has a 99.9% microbial kill rate against a wide range of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria such as:
|Gram-Positive Bacteria||Gram-Negative Bacteria|
Leptospermone, a triketone chemotype of mānuka, inhibits the growth of foodborne gram-positive bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus intermedius. In addition, this triketone chemotype also helps prevent intestinal gram-positive bacteria, namely, Clostridium difficle and Clostridium perfringens; and fights off foodborne gram-negative bacterial pathogens such as Salmonella typhimurium, Shigella flexneri and Shigella sonnei.
Anti-oxidant Properties – The potent anti-oxidant and sesquiterpene compounds in mānuka oil pave the way for its antiseptic, bactericidal, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, this oil is a powerful aid in preventing (and repairing) wrinkles, skin inflammation, skin thickening, and collagen fibre degradation which are all caused by UV damage.
Anti-fungal Properties – Mānuka oil has anti-fungal properties that help treat fungal infections such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, and toenail fungus. Read our article on how to use mānuka oil for toenail fungus.
Anti-inflammatory Properties: Apart from its antimicrobial properties, mānuka oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation, making it a beneficial ingredient in skincare products formulated for anti-ageing, acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and other skin-related conditions.
Skincare Benefits from Head to Toe
There are many mānuka oil benefits for a variety of skin disorders, including ringworm, athlete’s foot, acne, ulcers, wounds, cuts and abrasions. It is good for bites and stings and has the ability to reduce irritation and promote wound healing.
With a powerhouse of natural compounds, mānuka oil can help treat, heal or prevent different types of skin concerns, such as:
- Acne (treatment, prevention and control)
- Chaffed or irritated skin
- Cold sores
- Dry skin conditions
- Insect bites (bee stings, mosquito bites, etc.)
- Nail and cuticle health
- Foot and toenail fungus
- Skin ageing
- Wound and scar healing
Is Mānuka Oil Good for Skin?
Is mānuka oil suitable for all types of skin? While it offers numerous benefits, its effectiveness can vary depending on skin type.
For individuals with normal skin, mānuka oil can be a great addition to maintaining skin health. Its moisturizing and anti-ageing properties can help keep skin radiant and youthful.
Oily (or Acne-Prone) Skin
People with oily or acne-prone skin can benefit significantly from mānuka oil. Its antibacterial properties can combat acne, while its moisturizing effect won’t clog pores.
Dry (or Dehydrated) Skin
Mānuka oil’s natural hydration can be a lifesaver for dry or dehydrated skin. It locks in moisture, leaving skin feeling supple and soft.
Before using on sensitive skin, it’s crucial to do patch testing with mānuka oil. Mānuka oil can be used for eczema and other skin conditions once it is cleared of potential irritation.
For combination skin, tailor the use of mānuka oil to address specific concerns in different areas of the face.