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Kakadu Plum: Our Skin Superfood Hero

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Cutting edge skincare brands are using vitamin C-packed Australian superfood Kakadu plum in their formulas – an inspired move, given that roughly 60 percent of what we apply to our skin, hair and nails is absorbed into the body’s ecosystem. That’s what equates to an extension of diet.

Beauty brands are increasingly accommodating their customers’ dietary requirements and niche consumer groups are relishing the spread of, for instance, gluten-free, Halal, Kosher and vegan-friendly cosmetic products now available to them.

Ingredients considered healthy to eat are being slipped into skincare, in the belief that our pores will literally lap up the nutrients.

Not surprisingly, “superfoods” such as kale and goji berries are popular inclusions, known to deliver outstanding wellness benefits when orally consumed.

The term “superfood” was coined in the 1990s and usually refers to plant-based foods or herbs that pack large doses of antioxidants, vitamins or minerals, and are believed to have therapeutic properties. For example, turmeric is renowned as an effective anti-inflammatory.

Even more recently, Australian native superfoods such as Desert Lime and Kangaroo Apple have gained global recognition for their potent healing capabilities.

And Kakadu plum (also known as Gubinge, Billygoat Plum or Murunga) is arguably the best-known homegrown hero of all. It is believed to be one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C in the world.

The Australian Superfood Co says it’s the key wellness ingredient in their health bars.

“Kakadu plum is considered a gift of the Dreamtime, for its exceptional nutritional and antiseptic properties and has been an important food and medicine in northern Australia for millennia,” says Amber Cordeiro, spokesperson for the brand.

“From March to June, the local people harvest and consume this energising, thirst-quenching fruit. Throughout the rest of the year, its tree sap is consumed to treat joint inflammation, while the bark is applied to the body to treat burns, rashes and infections.

“One plum can contain up to 100 times the Vitamin C more than an orange, so it has outstanding antioxidant capabilities. It is 5.2 times more potent than the blueberry in that sense.

“The super-fruit is also honoured for its medicinal properties and is a known antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent. It is also an amazing  source of iron and vitamin E for vegetarians and contains 110μg of folate per 100g – the same amount found in broccoli.

“Thankfully, there’s sustainable harvesting practices in place. There are no commercial plantations here, and the Government has a law in place that only indigenous Australians can pick and harvest the fruit, which is fantastic. Kakadu plum is only wild-harvested, which makes it about as organic as you can get!”

With its delicious, tangy, slightly tart flavour, indigenous Australians have enjoyed eating it for thousands of years and harnessed its healing properties, applying it topically to skin lesions and scars.

Applied topically, the vitamin C extract in Kakadu plum works to reduce free radical damage on the skin, inflammation and premature ageing. It also helps with tissue repair and stimulates collagen production.

In additon, it is renowned for improving skin hydration levels, and when applied externally in concentrate form it can reduce hyperpigmentation by inhibiting melanogenesis.

We speak with innovators who harness Kakadu plum in brightening, anti-ageing, hydrating and acne skincare products.

“Cellular extraction of vitamin C from the Kakadu plum delivers the full plant profile of phyto-active compounds and their derivatives,” says Synthesis Organics’ Theme Rains.

Synthesis Organics is an award-winning skincare brand, formulated by Byron Bay (NSW) naturopath Theme Rains. She includes cellularly extracted vitamin C from Kakadu plum in a number of products across the collection.

Theme explains the science behind this extraction method and why method matters in terms of efficacy:

“Vitamin C is a highly unstable molecule in the presence of oxygen but this instability is what makes it so effective in preventing cell and tissue damage. While it is stable in dried form, it is also inactive and loses potency within hours when exposed to water.

“Stabilising activity is vital for it to deliver all its beauty benefits, but this has been a major cosmetic chemistry challenge.

“Cellular extraction was the breakthrough we needed. Through biomimicry, it harnesses the pure raw vitamin C by transferring it through the cell wall of the Kakadu plum into a liquid medium, mimicking its cellular environment.

“This produces a water-soluble, active source of the unstable vitamin C in a stable solution that delivers incredible antioxidant benefits to the skin.”

“In its pure form (eg. in a cellular extract) this natural ingredient is a powerhouse – it boosts collagen growth, elastin production, hydration and brightens skin, while reducing wrinkles, inflammation and hyperpigmentation,” says Hydroskin’s Parish Stapleton.

Hydroskin – Ultimate C Serum

HydroSkin Ultimate C Serum is 100 percent pure Kakadu plum extract in concentrate form. Parish Stapleton, co-owner of the brand says: “Our serum is often used in medi-cosmetic clinics following laser and needling treatments.

“Clinicians have reported to us that it has amazing wound-healing properties and often halves the recovery time after these types of procedures. It is also extremely effective at calming allergies, eczema and insect bites.

“The Kakadu plum used in our serum is harvested by local indigenous communities who directly benefit from the crop. The fruit is grown naturally without any fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides – it is 100 percent organic.

“It is then processed in small batches by a patented cellular extraction process called Biococentration Extraction, ensuring none of the properties of the fruit are diminished or corroded.

“In addition, this the ingredient contains gallic and ellagic acids which are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Therefore, when applied to the skin in high concentrations it reduces redness and is very beneficial for acne healing.

“Unlike ascorbic acid (often man-made vitamin C commonly found in many skincare products) the natural vitamin C in Kakadu plum cellular extract does not begin to oxidise almost instantly when it is exposed to air, light or water.

“Oxidisation drastically reduces the efficacy of vitamin C, sometimes having an adverse effect on skin, while the stable Kakadu plum retains its ability to penetrate and remain active.”

“We blend Kakadu plum with Australian native Lime Caviar to intensify its skin benefits,” says Waterlily and Spaceuticals founder Michelle Reeve.

Spaceuticals – Hydra C Mist

Australian natural cosmeceutical skincare brand Spaceuticals‘ hydration spray features Kakadu plum as its hero ingredient. Michelle Reeve, owner of the brand, elaborates:

“Kakadu plum is an incredible source of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects skin from environmental pollutants and oxidative stress.

“It is wonderfully anti-ageing. Skin is brightened and more luminous, targeting fine lines and age spots. Skin is hydrated and collagen production boosted to tone and firm the complexion.

“Our cellular biomimicry extraction process produces a water-soluble concentrate that activates its complete chemical plant profile, which includes polyphenols, ascorbic acid, gallic acid, flavone glycosides and ellagic acids.”

 

The two-step Vanessa Megan brightening system contains L-ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate and Kakadu plum.

Vanessa Megan – Two Phase Vitamin C Brightening System

Vanessa Megan’s range of “edible” skincare boasts a special two-phase product that contains Kakadu plum in powder form. She explains: “Since vitamin C is very difficult to stabilise in an emulsion (as it readily oxidises in the presence of air and water) we separated the product into phases to keep the product as fresh and stable as possible.

“The liquid phase needs to be combined with the brightening vitamin C powder blend just before it’s applied to the skin. Once combined they work in synergy to actively increase collagen production, reduce pigmentation and slow the production of age spots.”

“Kakadu plum is refined via a method called biomimicry, which ensures the integrity of the active compounds that fight free radical damage in the product,” says Sylvie Hutchings, founder of Scout Cosmetics.

Scout Cosmetics – Vitamin C Brightening Serum

Scout Cosmetics recently launched an extensive superfood skincare range, which features myriad other Australian native ingredients.

Kakadu plum extract features abundantly in the collection and is the hero ingredient in the brightening serum from the range.

Sylvie Hutchings, owner of the brand explains: “Our country boasts a variety of nutrient-dense foods that, though are not yet as well known as other superfoods, have a lot to offer.

“I found that some Australian wild-harvested indigenous extracts were active and potent sources of antioxidants and phyto-active botanical compounds that not only nourish and protect the skin, but are complementary to other beauty innovations.

“A high concentration of Kakadu plum extract in skincare reduces free radical damage and repairs the skin. It improves skin tone and provide long lasting hydration and elasticity.

“Applying vitamin C externally results in a high absorption – the particles found in our serum (which contains the Kakadu plum) are actually quite small which results in enhanced absorption,” says Anna Mitsios, founder and formulator of Edible Beauty skincare.

Edible Beauty – Exotic Goddess Serum

Edible Beauty is a pioneer of the “inside out” aesthetics movement. Naturopath Anna Mitsios harnesses many kinds of wild-harvested Australian native ingredients in the collection – including Kakadu plum, which features the best selling Exotic Goddess Serum.

“I first became aware of the skin benefit of Kakadu Plum almost 10 years ago. At the time, it was being promoted as a unique antioxidant and free radical scavenger, in particular for use by diabetics who, of course, are prone to advanced glycation end products (AGEs) as a result of their high blood sugars.

This was of special interest to me as I had been recently diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic.

“Kakadu plum in its whole form provides the benefits of a synergy of other nutrients and minerals in addition to vitamin C, including high levels of anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and skin elasticity-enhancing acids.

“Hence the benefits of the nutrients found in Kakadu plum plant make it far superior to synthetically produced/isolated vitamin C.”

Main Image credit: Style Craze

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"And Kakadu plum (also known as Gubinge, Billygoat Plum or Murunga) is arguably the best-known homegrown hero of all. It is believed to be one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C in the world."