Baobab Oil


Baobab oil is obtained from the seeds of Adansonia tree. This tree is one of the most characteristic trees of Africa, and it is often called the upside down tree because it looks as though it is growing roots upwards. The oil is quite viscous, with a rich, silky feel and a mild aroma.

Baobab oil is an excellent moisturizer and ideal for numerous cosmetic applications. It is one of the few oils which is added in its raw state in cosmetic products. Baobab oil is one of the most prominent oils from Africa.

baobab oil tree (Adansonia )
baobab oil tree (Adansonia ) ( Photo credit : endogamia )


Baobab oil comes from seeds of the fruits of any of the 9 species of Adansonia on the planet. These trees have a thick trunk which is usually thickest in the middle. Of all the species, the Adansonia grandidieri trees look the most picturesque. These trees store water in their trunks and are able to survive years of drought. They also live upto thousands of years.

The seeds of this tree are rich in soil. They have been used traditionally in Africa to extract cooking oil. Its fruit resembles coconuts, but the taste is somewhat tart.These fruits are high in many nutrients, and as such are of great nutritional importance.

The oil is obtained from the seeds using cold pressed method, in most cases. This is the best in terms of conserving nutrients and preventing contamination of oil with unwanted chemicals. However, baobab oil may not be edible because of the presence of certain toxic compounds.

baobab fruit
baobab fruit ( Photo credit : Ton Rulkens )


These are the healing therapeutic properties of baobab oil.

  • Emollient – It is an excellent moisturizer for the skin.
  • Insulator – It protects the skin from excessive high and low temperatures.
  • Rejuvenator – It promotes rejuvenation of skin cells.
  • Non-siccative – It does not dry for a long time.
  • Cicatrizant – promote wound healing.
  • Antioxidant – It prevents the skin from free radical damage.
  • Anti-Inflammatory – because of the presence of omega fatty acids in it.

Color, Taste and Aroma

Baobab fruit
Baobab fruit (Image:Shutterstock)

The oil has deep golden yellow color, earthy aroma and a nutty taste.

Health Benefits

The biggest use of baobab oil is as a cosmetic agent. One can use it directly on the skin, or combine it with other natural ingredients, like essential oils to impart certain benefits.

As a Massage Oil

Baobab oil has a really different texture that most other oils. One can use it as massage oil to get silky, smooth skin. The massage is easily facilitated because of this oil. Massage with this oil is good for dry, damaged skin. It helps the skin to restructure and heal itself. This way, it can help to heal dry skin patches. It is quickly absorbed into the skin. However, it does not leave the skin completely dry because of its non-siccative property.

Home Remedy for Stretch Marks

Baobab oil is a nice home remedy for stretch marks. Regular application on area affected by stretch marks reduces the appearance and depth of these marks. It is possible that the oil stimulates collagen and elastin synthesis under the skin to heal the stretch marks. Similarly, it can be used to heal wound scars, like post surgical scars.

As a Daily Moisturizing Lotion

After the shower, apply a small amount of baobab oil on the skin. This helps to lock in the moisture. The oil is readily absorbed, thus leaving a non greasy feeling within a few minutes. Alternatively, one can add it to a moisturizing lotion to increase its effectiveness.

Chapped Lips

Baobab oil is naturally great for chapped lips. Just a small amount of oil applied to the lips gets rid of the chapped lips condition.

Hair Conditioner

Baobab oil is heated gently and then applied on the scalp for a hot oil conditioning. Cover with a shower cap for a few hours and then wash it off. This leaves the hair soft and noticeably silky. It also adds some volume to the hair. Applying baobab oil to the hair protects them from damage by sun and free radicals which leaves the hair separated, damaged and frizzy.

Nail Care

Soak the hands and feet in baobab oil. It makes them soft and easy to take care of. This is helpful in mild ingrown toenail as well, as the nail becomes soft and easy to pull out. This nail treatment prevents them from unwanted breakage.

Dental Care

Baobab oil is traditionally used to heal swollen, inflamed gums. It can be massage directly on the gums to protect them from inflammation.

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues

Baobab oil is safe to apply undiluted on the skin, because it is a fixed oil. It has not got volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, this oil is not deemed fit for internal consumption. It has been found to contain anti-nutritious compounds. These are Cyclopropenoid fatty acids (CFPA). In some baobab oil products, these compounds are removed and that makes it edible. Cooking with this oil can also lead to generation of such harmful compounds through chemical changes in the original fatty acids.
Therefore, it should be used only as a topical agent.


There is no data on the interactions of baobab oil with topical or internal medication.

Baobab trees
Baobab trees (Image:Shutterstock)

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Baobab oil has a quite balanced nutrition. It contains almost equal proportion of saturated fats, MUFA and PUFA. 100 gm of baobab seed oil contains :

  • Saturated fats
  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats

Fatty Acid Profile of Baobab Oil (Adansonia digitata )

Nutrient Percentage Property
Gamma Linoleic Acid (18:3) PUFA
Stearic Acid (18:0) 3.5 % Saturated fat
Palmitic Acid (16:0) 31.6 % Saturated fat
Palmitoleic Acid (16:1) 1.5 % MUFA
Oleic Acid (18:1) 34.3 % MUFA
Linoleic Acid (18:2) 27.8 % PUFA
Alpha Linolenic Acid(18:3) PUFA
Erucic Acid (22:1) MUFA
Gadoleic Acid (20:1) MUFA
Behenic Acid (22:0) Saturated fat
Arachidic Acid (20:0) 0.5 Saturated fat

Source : 3

Baobab Oil also contains three somewhat exotic fatty acids, which are rare among other oils.

  • Malvalic Acid
  • Sterculic Acid
  • Dihydrosterculic Acid

Their proportion varies depending on the variety of Adansonia tree seeds used for getting the oil. We can see from the nutritional profile that this oil contains high amounts of omega – 6 ( linoleic ) and omega- 9 ( oleic acid ), but hardly any omega-3 ( alpha-linoleic acid ). This disproportion may lead to a pro-inflammatory response when this oil is ingested.

Vitamins and Minerals
Baobab oil possibly contains some vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin E, Vitamin A ( as beta carotene ), Vitamin K . It also contains phytosterols, like campesterol, cholesterol, avenasterol and stigmasterol. These sterols, except cholesterol itself usually have a cholesterol lowering ability. As a result, this oil may help in lowering cholesterol when consumed in small amounts.

Chemical Properties

Nutrient Percentage Property
Density  0.937  g/ml great for massage oil, slightly dense
Storage temperature  – Ideal temperature for storage
Comedogenicity  – Pore clogging potential ( 0 – 5 )
ORAC  – Antioxidant Power
pH  4.3  Measure of Acidity
Peroxide Value  –  Measure of Initial Rancidity
Saponification Value  133 – 195  Measure of the average carbon chain length
Iodine Value  55 – 96  Measure of unsaturation of oil
Free Fatty Acids  0.015 %  Percentage of volatile oils

Source : 2

Buying and Storage

Baobab oil has a strong resistance to rancidity. It should however be kept away from light. It has a good shelf life. The best oil is organic, cold pressed oil which is unfiltered. This oil is used for topical purposes. For using as cooking oil, one should get an oil fro which the anti-nutrients have been removed.

Baobab oil is a somewhat exotic oil with a silky texture which is sure to surprise many people. It smells good and is nice for general skin care.


1. Prota 14: Vegetable oils/Oléagineux . Record display. Adansonia grandidieri Baill
2. Baobab, Adansonia Digitata L. By M. Sidibe, J. T. Williams, A. Hughes, N. Haq, R. W. Smith
3. Three major tree nut oils of southern central Africa: Their uses and future as commercial base oils. N. Zimba, S. Wren A. Stucki. International Journal of Aromatherapy
4. Modifications of hepatic drug metabolizing enzyme activities in rats fed baobab seed oil containing cyclopropenoid fatty acids. A.A. Andrianaivo-Rafehivola, M.-H. Siess, E.M. Gaydou. Food and Chemical Toxicology
5. Effect of Cyclopropenoid Compounds on the Carcinogenic Activity of Diethylnitrosamine and Aflatoxin B in Rats. J. E. Nixon, R. O. Sinnhuber, D. J. Lee, M. K. Landers and J. R. Harr. Oxford JournalsMedicine JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst Volume 53, Issue 2

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  1. I like to make my own body butters. I have just discovered some oils & butters I’ve never heard of. I am enjoying reading about these different oil/butters. I plan to include Baobab oil to my next batch of experimental body creams. So much to learn & do! Thank you for the added information.
    One thing I also recently learned; if someone is allergic to almonds, then if almond oil is in my product, they cannot use it.

  2. I intend to use this in place of extra virgina olive oil for a conditioning hair product. While EVOO gets a lot of points for many people, I believe this will work much better for my hair.

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