What Karanja Oil Can Do For Your Hair and Skin
We all know those skin-care ingredients that get all the attentio: hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and retinol. But there are many other ingredients that fly under the radar but are just as important for making our skin and hair healthy and radiant.
Karanja oil — a powerful botanical that has myriad benefits for both skin and scalp — is one of those lesser-known skin-care ingredients. We chatted with cosmetic dermatologist Jason Emer, MD, about what karanja oil is and what it can do.
What Is Karanja Oil?
"Karanja oil, also referred to as pongamia oil, is derived from the seeds of the Indian beech tree," Dr. Emer explains. The tree typically thrives in Indian coastal regions, and karanja oil is actually an age-old Ayurvedic remed, he says: "It was used to alleviate skin ailments and irritation due to its highly soothing effects."
What Are the Benefits of Karanja Oil?
"Using it on the skin can provide a wide range of benefits, including natural protection, added suppleness, as well as moisture and firmness," Dr. Emer says. Think of karanja oil as an amazing "anti": antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antioxidants. Thanks to its healing properties, karanja oil helps alleviate anti-inflammatory conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Karanja oil also happens to be rich in flavonoids — an antioxidant with UV-fighting powers. "As the antioxidants absorb the ultraviolet rays, karanja oil increases photo protection while decreasing damage to skin and hair as well as UV-induced hair-color fading," Dr. Emer says. Karanja oil's antibacterial and antifungal properties also make it great for treating scalp-related issues, such as dandruff.
What Types of Products Is Karanja Oil In?
You guessed it — karaja oil is in both hair care and skin care. Products like Augustinus Bader Face Oil ($245) utilize karanja oil for its skin-soothing and softening benefits. For hair, Dr. Emer is a fan of Prose Custom Conditioner ($28), which is moisturizing and lightweight.
Are There Any Cons to Using Karanja Oil?
You can get karanja oil in its pure form, but it's not recommended. It might be too heavy for fine hair or oily skin, and if you were to use it, you'd want to combine it with other ingredients — such as coconut oil — to make it safer and more effective, Dr. Emer says. So, you may want to go with a ready-made product before you take the DIY route. As with any botanical, the possibility of having an allergic reaction is present, so do a patch test before trying a new product.