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What’s the deal with dilo oil?

Michelle asks (via Facebook)…I saw your recent Facebook post about a product containing “dilo oil” and loved your comment about it being a typo for something more…salacious (LMFAO BTW). But now I’m seriously curious. What is dilo oil and is it good for skin?

The Beauty Brains respond:

That’s what we get for letting Sarah Bellum manage our social media – somehow she manages to make EVERYTHING sound dirty! Actually, Dilo oil is quite innocent.

The dirt on Dilo oil

Dilo oil (aka Pinnay oil, Tamanu oil and calophyllum inophyllum) comes the sacred Dilo tree (also known as the “Tree of a Thousand Virtues”) which is native to Fiji. This ingredient came to our attention because it’s used in Kate Somerville’s Restorative treatment which costs about $60 for one ounce. According to Kate, Dilo oil contains calophylloids which have been proven to be helpful in the restoration and regeneration of skin tissue.

Does it really work? There’s an abundance of anecdotal information regarding folkloric uses for Dilo oil. These range from the mundane (it makes a good moisturizer) to the medically ambitious:

  • Used for gonorrea and gleet in Fiji
  • Used for leprosy in India
  • Used for sciatica and rheumatism in the South Sea Islands

In the US its primary use appears to be to drain your bank account because despite all the folklore, I could only find one modern study on Dilo oil and that only evaluated it as a scar reduction treatment. The good news is that the treatment reduced both the length and width of scars. The bad news is that the assessment in scar improvement was self-rated (which introduces a lot of bias) and there was no control (it wasn’t tested against any other product so we don’t know if, let’s say, cocoa butter or Vaseline lotion may work just as well.)

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Despite what Sarah Bellum would have you think, Dilo oil is NOT a sex toy lubricant. It’s a natural oil with some unique chemical properties that may be beneficial for skin. However, there’s nothing in the scientific literature that indicates it provides any benefits that would make it worth $60 an ounce. (Kate – if you’re reading this and you have any additional data on Dilo oil  please let us know and we’ll share that with our readers.)

Reference:
Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum ) – the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea Dweck, A. C.1; Meadows, T.2 International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume 24, issue 6 (December 1, 2002), p. 341-348.

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