Uses of Macadamia Nut Oil in Skin Care Products

Written by: Dr. Leslie Baumann



Time to read 9 min

Macadamia nut oil (Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil) is a versatile natural skin care ingredient loaded with barrier repairing fatty acids, free radical binding antioxidants, and many minerals like calcium and magnesium that are good for skin health. This ingredient should be avoided by people with tree nut allergies. Because macadamia nut oil is not comedogenic, it is safe for most skin types. This ingredient has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Find out all about how macadamia nut oil works and what kinds of benefits it has here!


Macadamia nut oil is extremely common in a variety of product types; here are some of our favorite products! (Be sure to look for your skin type's octagon on product pages to make sure they're right for your skin!)

What is macadamia nut oil made of?

What is Macadamia Nut Oil Made of?

Macadamia nuts are mostly made of oils and fatty acids, mainly oleic acid, followed by palmitoleic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid.

Besides fatty acids, this ingredient contains the antioxidant Vitamin E (tocopherol), and a few B Vitamins, namely B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), and B9 (folate). (3,4)

Macadamia nuts also contain calcium and magnesium. This variety of compounds makes macadamia nut oil great for a number of skin concerns from inflammation to aging.

How does it work?

The compounds in macadamia nut oil provide a number of functions in skin care. The most common compound, oleic acid, is excellent for helping ingredients penetrate into the skin. (5)

Palmitoleic acid, the second most common fatty acid in macadamia nuts, is known for anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, meaning it is good for acne treatments. (6)

Linoleic acid is a soothing fatty acid that helps protect and restore the skin's phospholipid bilayer when used in barrier repair moisturizers. This ingredient is great for soothing irritation and inflammation on sensitive skin, and has even demonstrated mild skin lightening properties in some studies. (7) Additionally, linoleic acid is great for treating dry skin.

Palmitic acid is a saturated fatty acid that gives macadamia nut a slightly thicker occlusive texture than purely unsaturated oils.

Vitamin E, also present in macadamia oil, is one of the most well studied antioxidants in skin care, known for its ability to bind and eliminate free radicals on the skin that can cause genetic damage and wrinkles. (8)

Though B vitamins are present in this ingredient, the concentration is too low to provide significant measurable benefits to the skin.

How does macadamia nut oil work?

Is Macadamia nut oil good for the skin?

Macadamia nut oil could be very good for your skin depending on your Baumann Skin Type. If you have extremely sensitive skin, the high concentration of oleic acid in this ingredient might cause some redness or mild irritation to your face, and should be followed by a dedicated anti-inflammatory ingredient. 

If you do not have extremely sensitive skin, macadamia nut oil has a number of beneficial properties such as antimicrobial, barrier repairing, ingredient absorbing, and antioxidant properties. Macadamia oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not cause clogged pores, so it is safe for most acne regimens.

The oleic acid in macadamia nut oil aids in the penetration of slow absorbing ingredients like retinoids. Be sure you understand how to layer your skin care products, because products are most effective when applied in the correct order.

Calcium is known to regulate the production of sebum on the skin, keeping excess oil from developing on the face. This can help keep acne at bay in oily skin types.

Magnesium is anti-inflammatory and hormone regulating, making it a helpful component of macadamia nut oil for acne treatments.

To find out if macadamia nut oil is right for you, take our quiz to find your Baumann Skin Type and receive personalized recommendations for your skin care regimen.

How to use macadamia nut oil

How to use Macadamia Nut Oil

Macadamia nut oil is very versatile, so it can be found in cleansers, moisturizers, serums, sunscreens, and hair care products. Depending on what kind of product you have with macadamia nut oil, the right time to use it will vary.

In general, the best order to apply your skin care is:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Exfoliator
  4. Moisturizer
  5. Sunscreen

Since macadamia nut oil can be found in any of these product types, the most important thing to keep in mind is this general order. Note that serums can serve the purpose of any of these steps based on their design. There are cleansing serums, moisturizing serums, etc.

If you are using homemade macadamia nut oil on its own as a step in your skin care regimen, it would be the 4th step; moisturizer. Without other ingredients to compound its effectiveness, macadamia nut oil is not very potent, so we recommend it in formulations with complimentary ingredients. Some ingredients that would benefit from use alongside macadamia nut oil include the retinoid family of ingredients.


The largest risk of side-effects when using macadamia nut oil in skin care is an allergy to tree nuts. Tree nut allergies can be severe for some people. 

Otherwise, organizations such as the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel have conducted safety evaluations on macadamia oil and have found it safe for use in cosmetics.

If you have extremely sensitive skin, the high concentration of oleic acid in macadamia nut oil has a chance of causing mild irritation to the face. Additionally, overuse of macadamia nut oil can result in hyperhydration of the skin, leading to a possible change in microbiome by providing a fat-rich medium for acne causing bacteria to develop. It is crucial to use even beneficial ingredients in moderation.

Macadamia nut oil for acne care

For Acne

Macadamia nut oil is non-comedogenic and safe to use in acne treatments.

Palmitoleic acid, a compound found in macadamia nut oil, is known to have a few benefits in terms of acne treatments in skin care. (6) Specifically, this fatty acid has expressed antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. 

Anti-inflammatories are important for acne care because when a pore gets clogged it is likely to cause irritation and inflammation that exacerbates the appearance of those pores. When the skin gets inflamed, you can imagine the pores around the original clog getting squished together, potentially leading to additional clogged pores.

The antimicrobial nature of this compound means that acne causing bacteria exposed to palmitoleic acid is likely to be eliminated before it develops into anything serious.

Note that the concentration of palmitoleic acid in macadamia nut oil is not very high, so ingredients like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or even bergamot oil would be good supplements. 

Linoleic acid is also anti-inflammatory and beneficial for acne care, while oleic acid is great for helping ingredients like retinoids penetrate the skin for faster and increased effectiveness.

The calcium and magnesium present in macadamia nut oil also have positive effects on acne care.

For Dry Skin

Dry skin can benefit from macadamia nut oil because of its high concentration of barrier repairing and occlusive fatty acids like linoleic and palmitic acids. 

Occlusive compounds like palmitic acid help prevent transepidermal water loss (the evaporation of water from the face). 

There are many kinds of moisturizers, and many include macadamia nut oil in their formulation. If your skin is extremely dry and extremely sensitive, the oleic acid in macadamia nut oil might be slightly irritating to your skin.

To find the best moisturizer for your skin type, take our quiz for free recommendations!

Macadamia nut oil for anti-aging


Macadamia nut oil contains a notable concentration of vitamin E, one of the most studied antioxidants in the skin care world. Antioxidants help prevent skin aging by binding free radicals on the skin that can lead to various kinds of genetic damage and wrinkles. 

Palmitoleic acid has demonstrated the ability to assist in collagen synthesis as well. Collagen is a crucial compound for the health and form of your skin. (9)

Macadamia nut oil alone is not enough to prevent or treat aging concerns, so we recommend using products that pair macadamia nut oil with others like peptides, exosomes, or retinoids. For a comprehensive list of anti-aging ingredients that could work well with macadamia nut oil, check out our anti-aging ingredient dictionary! 


Macadamia nut oil is loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds such as linoleic acid, palmitoleic acid, and calcium. Linoleic and palmitoleic acid can be used to repair the skin barrier of dry, sensitive skin types and even have uses for treatments of conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

Inflammation can lead to concerns like acne, redness, and general irritation of the skin.

It is important to note that people with particularly sensitive skin might have a subtle reaction to the oleic acid in macadamia nut oil, so pairing this ingredient with a dedicated barrier repair moisturizer could be helpful.

There are many effective anti-inflammatory ingredients on the market, and if you'd like to check them all out, see our dictionary of anti-inflammatory ingredients here!

Macadamia Nut oil for Hair Care

Hair Care

Macadamia nut oil contains multiple compounds that are beneficial for most people's hair care; specifically linoleic and oleic fatty acids.

Oleic acid helps other compounds and ingredients penetrate into the scalp, follicles, and hair strands to provide a more efficient transference of benefits. 

Linoleic acid is great for repairing the barrier of the scalp and for individually repairing hair strands from the inside out. 

Just like other hair oils, it is important to use this ingredient sparingly because overuse can result in a greasy feeling on the hair. Too much oil on the hair and scalp can also result in acne by trapping the dead skin and dirt from the scalp. We recommend only using macadamia nut oil in your hair after shampooing, and to moderate the amount you use based on hair thickness, texture, and oiliness. 

If you have naturally oily hair, you do not need additional oils unless you're having a particularly frizzy hair day.

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

Will macadamia nut oil clog my pores?

Macadamia nut oil is not a comedogenic ingredient, meaning it is unlikely to cause clogged pores. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties interfere with the development and growth of acne on the face. As long as you wash your face with a cleanser before application, this ingredient will not clog your pores.

Can I use macadamia nut oil every day?

If your daily moisturizer, sunscreen, or other products contain macadamia nut oil and they are right for your personal skin type, macadamia nut oil is safe for daily use. If your skin is particularly sensitive, you might not want to use it on its own daily as oleic acid can irritate super sensitive skin. If you have an allergy to tree nuts, you might want to avoid macadamia nut oil altogether.

Best References and Scientific Publications on Macadamia Nut oil:

  1. Baumann L. Antiaging Ingredients in Ch. 37 of Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology Ed 3. (McGraw Hill 2022)
  2. Baumann, L. Ch.  Cosmeceuticals and cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)
  3. Akhtar, N., Ahmad, M., Madni, A., & BAKHSH, S. (2006). Evaluation of basic properties of macadamia nut oil. Gomal University Journal of Research, 22(1), 21-7.
  4. Kaijser, A., Dutta, P., & Savage, G. (2000). Oxidative stability and lipid composition of macadamia nuts grown in New Zealand. Food Chemistry, 71(1), 67-70.
  5. Naik, A., Pechtold, L. A., Potts, R. O., & Guy, R. H. (1995). Mechanism of oleic acid-induced skin penetration enhancement in vivo in humans. Journal of controlled release, 37(3), 299-306.
  6. Wille, J. J., & Kydonieus, A. J. S. P. (2003). Palmitoleic acid isomer (C16: 1Δ6) in human skin sebum is effective against gram-positive bacteria. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 16(3), 176-187.
  7. Ando, H., Ryu, A., Hashimoto, A., Oka, M., & Ichihashi, M. (1998). Linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid lightens ultraviolet-induced hyperpigmentation of the skin. Archives of dermatological research, 290, 375-381.
  8. Fryer, M. J. (1992). The antioxidant effects of thylakoid vitamin E (α‐tocopherol). Plant, Cell & Environment, 15(4), 381-392.
  9. Akhtar, N., & Yazan, Y. (2005). Formulation and characterization of a cosmetic multiple emulsion system containing macadamia nut oil and two anti aging agents.