Let’s talk about bacteria for a second. It’s everywhere; in our bodies, in the air and on just about every surface we touch. It’s inescapable. And although the bacteria found isn’t all bad (like the ones that keep our vaginal pH balanced), we’re never not looking for skin care products that pack an antimicrobial punch; meaning they’ll rid our faces of the gunk and grime without taking the good stuff with it, too.
For as long as we can remember, tea tree oil has been the hero ingredient we associate with this specific concern…and for good reason. Studies have shown that it’s just as effective in treating acne as prescription-strength options (like benzoyl peroxide), but without the harsh side effects. But we think it’s high time we gave tea tree a well-deserved break, especially since there are a gang of other oils whose properties do the same exact thing.
Nyakio Grieco, founder of Nyakio Beauty, counts marula, rose hip and mafura as her favorites and three that should definitely be on our skin care radar. The first–marula oil–is lightweight, easily absorbed and a safe bet for pretty much all skin types. And besides being chock-full-of antibacterial properties, it’s also rich in oleic acid, a fatty acid that’s especially nourishing to dry skin since it can penetrate more deeply than other ingredients.
Rosehip oil is also a popular skin soother that just so happens to be antibacterial. “Rose hips contain phenols, which are known to have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. This oil is highly effective for ultra-sensitive skin types,” says Grieco. Lastly, mafura oil, arguably the least known of these three, gets its anti-inflammatory properties from limonoids. That’s just a fancy word for phytochemicals, which are the compounds produced by fruits and plants to fight off pathogens (aka bacteria).
If your tea tree spot treatment or facial serum is down to its last drop, consider adding one of these germ-fighting formulas to your vanity in its place.
DERMAdoctor Kakadu C High Potency Evening Oil
Consider this a tall glass of orange juice for your skin. Apply to the face right before you sleep and overnight, the combo of Vitamin C sources and other natural oils (including marula) will smooth the skin, while fighting off free radicals.
$74 at DERMAdoctor
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
This eco-conscious brand's marula oil is cold-pressed, meaning it's extracted in a way that takes as little of the nutrients out as possible. It's also totally pure and without any other mix-ins, so you're getting it straight, no chaser.
$40 at Drunk Elephant
Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation
This luxurious foundation includes both rosehip and marula oils, so your skin is not only getting the coverage it needs. These oils are also diminishing redness and providing moisture, too.
$54 at Ilia Beauty
Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser
A dual makeup remover and cleanser that utilizes rosehip oil to gently clean and nourish the skin at the same time. This one's best for sensitive skin types.
$32 at Indie Lee
Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Oil
Made with rosehip oil, pomegranate oil, noni fruit extract and sea buckthorn oil, this organic formula is a surefire way to keep your skin its healthiest and glowiest.
$68 at Kora Organics
Miss Jessie's Grow Strong Mafura Hair Oil
Mafura oil isn't just antibacterial for the skin. It also does the same for the hair, in addition to promoting healthy growth and shine.
$11 at Miss Jessie's
Nyakio Manketti & Mafura Anti-Aging Oil
100 percent vegan and cruelty-free, this fast-absorbing oil contains a heaping dose of mafura oil (straight from Zimbabwe), so dehydrated skin can recover and appear more radiant.
$49 at Ulta
Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil
Made with rosehip oil, this hero product from the Ole Henriksen brand is meant to brighten your complexion and should be used in between cleansing and moisturizing.
$45 at Ole Henriksen
SheaMoisture Intense Hydration Masque
Combined with baobab oil, another antioxidant-rich ingredient native to Africa, this hair treatment is key to hydrating strands and demolishing buildup in the process.
$13.99 at SheaMoisture
Dr. Roebuck's No Worries Moisturizer
Rosehip oil and hyaluronic acid, the MVPs of skin moisture, come together in this lightweight, but highly effective face formula for healthier skin.
$45 at Dr. Roebuck's