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Kakadu plum is one of the newest discoveries in the world of skincare, slated to replace other sources of Vitamin C. Also known as billygoat plum or gubinge plum, this is a small fruit that is found across the northern part of Australia. It is indigenous to the Eucalypt woodlands of this region, used by the Aborigines as a medicinal plant as well as a rich source of nutrition.
The berry is pale green in colour and is just between 2-5 grams in weight. It is known for the tart flavour and fibrous pulp which hold all the nutritional benefits.
History of Kakadu Plum
For thousands of years, the Aboriginal people of Australia have been using Kakadu berry in their native cuisine and for traditional medicines. The various names of this fruit in different Aboriginal languages shows that the species is widely distributed across Australia. For instance, the name ‘Gubinge’ was given by the Bardi people from the northern part of Broome.
The Kakadu plum was first discovered in the Kakadu National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The harsh conditions that the plant grows under has resulted in the development of a special self-defence system which is a mix of some of the most powerful antioxidants.
Traditionally, Kakadu plum was used to treat headaches, flu and colds. It was also used to soothe the limbs because of its antiseptic properties. The rich Vitamin C content of this plum and its benefits for skincare were discovered around the 1980s, making it a common ingredient in premium products.
Properties of Kakadu Plum
Kakadu Plum is widely known for its medicinal properties and unique composition of nutrients. Here are some of the most important properties of this plum.
- It is an antioxidant: Kakadu plum is a rich source of organic acid, ellagic acid. This is a polyphenol which is a very strong antioxidant. Besides that, it also contains flavanols, aromatic acids like gallic acid, lutein and anthocyanins that help fight any free radicals that may damage the skin. Kakadu plum is known to have 13.3 times more antioxidants than blueberries.
- It is anti-inflammatory: Kakadu plum is rich in its tannin content. It contains ellagitannins which are derived from ellagic acid. These tannins inhibit any inflammatory reactions in the body. For this reason, Kakadu plum extracts were even used as a cure to soothe aching limbs due to rheumatoid arthritis.
- It is antimicrobial: The antimicrobial properties of Kakadu plum have been researched best by the food industry. It is very commonly used as a food preservative as it is efficient in the inhibition of pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses. This property is also beneficial in skincare, allowing quick relief from acne and other infections.
- Richest source of Vitamin C: The vitamin C content of Kakadu plum makes it highly beneficial in skincare. It is the richest vitamin C source of earth, providing up to 3000% of the daily required intake of this nutrient. When applied topically, it provides antioxidant, skin lightening and anti-ageing benefits.
Sources of Kakadu Plum
Kakadu plum is obtained from a semi-deciduous tree which is scientifically known as Terminalia Ferdinandania. These plums are harvested between January and February in the western part of Australia while they are harvested between March and late May in the Northern territory. After harvesting by hand, the plums are frozen in order to retain the Vitamin C content.
For cosmetic use, Kakadu plum extract or powder is obtained. The fruit is disintegrated using certain enzymes. This partially digests the fibrous pulp which is, then, juiced. The juice is purified using an ultrafiltration process and then concentrated using reverse osmosis to get an extract that is rich in vitamin C. In order to obtain the powder, this extract is further dried. Powdered Kakadu extract contains up to 15% vitamin C concentration.
Different Forms of Kakadu Plum
In skincare, Kakadu plum is normally used in three forms:
- Kakadu plum extract
- Kakadu plum oil
- Kakadu plum powder
Differences Between Different Types of These Ingredients
The different forms of Kakadu plum used in skincare are quite similar in their composition. They primarily differ in the way they are prepared.
Kakadu Plum Extract
Kakadu plum extracts are derived by disintegrating the fruit using digestive enzymes. Then, the juice is extracted and purified. The purified juice is concentrated with a reverse osmosis process. This ensures that the vitamin C content is retained in the highest quantity before the product is used in any skincare product. These extracts are water-soluble, making them ideal to use for products like serums and lotions.
Kakadu Plum Oil
Kakadu plum oil is derived from the seed. This is a challenging process because the seed is extremely hard to remove. The oil cannot be extracted using conventional methods such as solvent extraction or pressing. Instead, the seed is cracked using safflower oil at very high pressure. This not only removes the seed but also the oil-soluble components of the seed. The issue with Kakadu plum oil is that the yield from each seed is very low. Additionally, it is a very labour intensive process to extract these oils, making them more expensive.
Kakadu Plum Powder
Kakadu plum powder is possibly the most common product used in skincare products. This is because it can be easily dissolved with other ingredients. The extraction process is also simpler. Once the juice of the plum is extracted and purified, it is dehydrated to turn into a powder. Among the other forms of Kakadu plum used in skincare, the powder has the maximum Vitamin C concentration, going up to almost 15%.
Benefits of Kakadu Plum
Kakadu Plum offers several skincare benefits such as:
- Brightens the skin
- Natural acne remedy
- Fights early signs of ageing
- Hydrates the skin
- Protects from free radical damage
How Kakadu Plum Functions For Each Skincare Benefit
Here is a detailed understanding of how Kakadu plum works to provide various skincare benefits:
- Brightens the skin: The high vitamin C content of this ingredient is responsible for its ability to fight hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Vitamin C naturally inhibits the production of melanin in the skin, which is highly beneficial in reducing any skin darkening. It helps reduce blemishes, discolouration and hyperpigmentation to give you even-toned skin. With regular use, the complexion also improves considerably as Vitamin C naturally lightens the complexion of the skin.
- Natural acne remedy: The antibacterial property of Kakadu berry is well-known in the food industry. It is also beneficial in topical skincare applications as it inhibits the population of several types of bacteria. Gallic acid and other antioxidants in this ingredient also have anti-inflammatory properties. This helps reduce any rashes, redness or painful acne easily.
- Fights early signs of ageing: Vitamin C boosts collagen production. Collagen is a type of protein that helps keep the elasticity of the skin intact. Additionally, Kakadu berry is also rich in gallic acid, flavonoids and other antioxidants that help prevent any free radical damage to the skin. This property of Kakadu berry helps reduce the common signs of ageing.
- Hydrates the skin: The rich antioxidants and nutrients in Kakadu berry help build the skin barrier. This helps lock in the moisture in the skin, keeping it hydrated. This not only makes the skin supple but also prevents the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles that are commonly caused by skin dryness.
- Protects from free radical damage: With excessive exposure to UV rays, environmental pollution and other toxins, the free radicals on the surface of the skin increase. These free radicals cause oxidative damage to the skin cells and tissues causing issues like dark spots, ageing, dullness and others. The rich antioxidant content of Kakadu plum neutralizes these free radicals, offering protection from sun and toxin damage.
What Skin Type is Kakadu Plum Used for and Why?
Kakadu Plum is suitable and safe for all skin types. It is a rich source of Vitamin-C and is 100% natural. It is particularly recommended for skin that is blemish-prone as it eliminates free radicals and provides superior antioxidant benefits. It works well to deep cleanse the skin and flush out toxins for an undeniable glow. It is particularly popular for its soothing, anti-fungal properties.
What time of the day should this be used?
Kakadu Plum extracts can be used twice each day for maximum benefits.
- As a daytime skincare product: One of the most important properties of Kakadu plum that makes it a great daytime skincare product is the UV protection it offers. The antioxidants prevent any UV-induced free radical damage, keeping your skin protected all day long.
- As a night-time skincare product: The collagen boosting properties of Kakadu plum make it an excellent nighttime skincare product. This regenerative property along with the antioxidant benefits helps your skin heal while you are asleep.
- Why use twice a day: The regenerative and protective features of Kakadu plum make it ideal for all-day use. When used twice a day, you can see faster results and even prevent the appearance of blemishes, pigmentation and acne for longer.
What quantity is suitable to use to show results?
Apply 3-4 drops directly on the forehead, cheeks and neck and massage it in. If you are using Kakadu berry powder, mix a tablespoon with a clay mask and apply it once a week.
Duration of usage for results
For best results, it is recommended that you use Kakadu plum for 12 weeks consistently for maximum results.
- Week 2: Kakadu plum hydrates the skin within the first two weeks of application. You will notice that any pigmentation in the skin begins to lighten.
- Week 4: After 4 weeks of application, blemishes reduce considerably and the complexion becomes lighter. The skin begins to look more radiant and bright when applied for four weeks.
- Week 8-12: Inflammatory conditions like acne clear out after 8-12 weeks of regular usage. The skin becomes even-toned and brighter at the end of this recommended period. You may continue to apply it for longer based on the results that you wish to see.
What skin types are this ingredient not suitable for and why?
Kakadu plum is even suitable for sensitive skin as it soothes the skin instantly. However, if you are using it for the first time, it is a good idea to try a patch test before applying to your face.
Combinations and Conflicts
There is very little research available to isolate Kakadu plum extract and the best combinations of skincare products with this ingredient. However, due to the high vitamin C content, here are some possible combinations and conflicts with other popular skincare ingredients.
What other Ingredients can Kakadu Be Used With?
The best combinations with Kakadu plum are:
- Kakadu Plum + Vitamin E: Vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidants. When combined with vitamin C in Kakadu Plum, the sun protection benefits increase. Although both the ingredients are beneficial in negating any free radical damage, they combat different types of damage caused by UV radiation. This helps prevent any blemishes, dark spots or other forms of sun damage.
- Kakadu Plum + Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid is a humectant. This means that it helps retain moisture in the skin. This keeps the skin supple and free from any signs of aging that are accelerated with dryness. When combined with the antioxidant benefits of Vitamin C in Kakadu Plum, the anti-aging benefits multiply, keeping skin youthful and fresh.
- Kakadu Plum + Ferulic Acid: Ferulic acid has the ability to fight free radicals just like Vitamin C. However, when ferulic acid and Vitamin C are combined, the effectiveness and life of vitamin C increase. Normally, Vitamin C products are vulnerable to air, light and heat. When combined with ferulic acid, vitamin C stabilizes, retaining the antioxidant properties.
What ingredients should not be used in combinations/ succession with Kakadu?
Here are some ingredients that render the vitamin C in Kakadu plum ineffective, making it less potent:
- Kakadu Plum and Benzoyl Peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide oxidizes Vitamin C. This renders the nutrient ineffective. Then, you will not be able to see any positive effects of applying Kakadu plum even after several weeks.
- Kakadu Plum and Retinol: Retinol is used as an anti-aging ingredient. However, it is extremely strong and potent. Known for its use as a chemical peel, Retinol can lead to redness and irritation. When combined with Vitamin C this effect increases because Vitamin C is acidic in nature as well. This can lead to severe rashes, inflammation and other issues in the skin. You are also at a much higher risk of sun and UV damage.
- Kakadu Plum and AHAs/ BHAs: AHAs and BHAs are also acidic in nature and exfoliate the skin. When used along with Vitamin C, they tend to irritate the skin. It is a good idea to alternate between the two in your daytime and nighttime skincare routine.
- Kakadu plum and Niacinamide: There is a lot of debate about the combination of niacinamide and any vitamin C rich ingredient. When they are combined together, they tend to cancel out each other’s effect, making the product ineffective on the skin. Instead, they change the chemical composition of each other to create a compound that triggers breakouts in the skin.
Kakadu Plum Product Formats
Kakadu Plum is used in many skincare products in combination with beneficial ingredients. It is used in:
- Lotions: Kakadu plum extracts and powders are easily water-soluble which makes them ideal for lotions that are easily absorbed by the skin.
- Sunscreen lotions: The antioxidants and vitamin C in Kakadu berry are extremely potent in providing UV ray protection. This makes it a great ingredient to add to sunscreen lotions.
- Face serums: Kakadu berry oils and powder blend well with other ingredients, making them ideal for face serums.
- Overnight masks: The soothing and anti-inflammatory properties of Kakadu berry are highly beneficial with overnight masks as the face is left feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.
- 1 Sources
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