Earlier this year, dermatologists predicted moringa skincare products would be the trend to watch in 2019, and they were right. Moringa seed oil is suddenly everywhere, from high-end cleansing balms to drugstore serums, and its “it” status is well-earned, if not a little ironic. I mean, use of the ingredient can be traced all the way back to ancient civilizations in India and Africa… so why is it suddenly so popular now? It seems moringa may have been ahead of its time. It took the perfect storm of changing beauty ideals — a renewed interest in naturals, the acceptance of facial oils, and a focus on pollution-fighting antioxidants — to finally guide moringa into the mainstream.
“Moringa, also known as the Miracle Tree, is an ancient superfood tree native to India,” Elizabeth Dorow, an herbalist and the co-founder of Ona Organics, tells The Zoe Report. “Moringa has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties and highly-concentrated nutritional value.” Like a lot of ancient skincare ingredients — turmeric, saffron, olive oil — moringa has dual-action benefits: It can be used externally (as an oil) or internally (as an herb) to heal and strengthen skin.
“Moringa oil is full of highly concentrated nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E and Omega-3, -6, and -9,” Dorow says. “Because of its similarity to the oil your skin produces naturally, moringa seed oil is very balancing and helps regulate sebum production.” What makes the substance unique in this regard is its small molecular size. “It’s believed that moringa penetrates deep within the skin to have a better and lasting impact, locking in moisture and hydration,” Dr. Aanand Geria, MD, a dermatologist with Geria Dermatology in New Jersey, tells TZR. This means moringa oil won't leave a layer of grease sitting on your face, and it's universally beneficial — whether your skin tends toward oiliness or dryness.
“It’s also rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, which are antioxidants,” Dr. Geria says. You’ve probably heard the term “antioxidants” before — these substances essentially protect skin from pollution particles — but if you need a reminder about how, exactly, they affect your face, listen up: “Antioxidants are amazing for skin rejuvenation, correcting skin damage, reducing inflammation, and can even stimulate collagen production, which helps to keep skin looking youthful,” the dermatologist explains. So, yeah, your complexion can get almost everything it needs from a single drop of moringa oil.
While that list is impressive, it barely scratches the surface of moringa’s power. “Most of the benefits are seen when moringa is consumed, as they do in many parts of the world where this tree is grown,” Dr. Geria says. According to Dorow, the moringa leaf has seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the vitamin A of carrots, four times the calcium of milk, three times the potassium of bananas, three times the iron of spinach, and twice the protein of yogurt. “I really like to add moringa leaf powder to my green juices for energy and protein,” she says. “I add fresh leaves to smoothies, pizzas, salads, and make a spicy pesto with them, too.” The herbalist notes moringa leaf also makes a great immunity-boosting tea — simply steep the leaves in hot water with ginger for 10 to 15 minutes.
On top of all that, moringa is an eco-friendly ingredient. “It’s a very fast-growing tree and can help to reverse deforestation and improve soil fertility,” Dorow explains. “The nectar of moringa flowers is beloved by honey bees who, according to Greenpeace, provide 80 percent of pollination worldwide.” And it can help your skin? I’d say that’s a case for planting more moringa trees, stat.
Dr. Geria says the substance has no history of major side effects other than “possible irritant or allergic reactions,” as is the case with any ingredient. “Moringa is a non-comedogenic oil that benefits all skin types,” Dorow agrees. “When I first discovered moringa, I thought it was too good to be true, but the plant has proven itself to me time and time again.”
Ahead, 11 skincare products that bring this all-powerful ancient ingredient into modern times.