Aussie Skin Secret

The kakadu plum from Down Under provides appearance-enhancing vitamin C.

July/august 2017

by Lisa James


It isn’t the fountain of youth, but it’s close. Vitamin C, by doing everything from helping skin create protein to protecting it against the sun’s rays, has been a standard skincare ingredient for years, its usage in helping maintain a youthful look bolstered by decades of published research.

What changes over time is how this key vitamin gets delivered to skin cells. One of the
most recent delivery vehicles is a small Australian fruit called the kakadu plum, the “latest natural ingredient to find itself in the beauty spotlight,” according to Alle Connell of the beauty site StyleCaster.

Crucial Nutrient

The skin contains considerable amounts of vitamin C, and with good reason. The body uses this nutrient to create collagen, the fibrous protein mesh that stabilizes contact between the skin’s layers. Collagen is what gives skin shape, support and elasticity. (One reason for the wrinkles we associate with aging is the steady decline in collagen production and repair as the years pass.)

Vitamin C also serves as an antioxidant, or a substance that neutralizes harmful molecules called free radicals. One of the biggest sources of free radicals is the sun with its ultraviolet rays; researchers have found that vitamin C can help retard UV-related skin injury, including reductions in both wrinkling and DNA damage.

The sun isn’t the only source of oxidative skin damage. Vitamin C also helps fight the harmful effects of smoking, smog and exposure to herbicides, chlorine and other chemicals.

While getting enough dietary vitamin C is essential, numerous studies have shown topical application to be effective. That’s good, considering that aging lowers the amount of C found in the skin.

From Bush to Beauty

Australia’s indigenous peoples have long used kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana)—also known as gubinge or billygoat plum—for its medicinal properties and as “bush tucker,” a nutritious ingredient in jams, preserves and other foods.

Today, we know that kakadu plum is a potent source of vitamin C. “It’s estimated that a single kakadu plum contains more vitamin C than an orange—55 times more, to be exact,” says Connell. “When applied to skin, it can reduce swelling and redness.”

Vitamin C isn’t the only thing kakadu plum brings to the table. It provides minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Connell notes that this fruit also contains “lesser-known antioxidants like gallic acid, good for restoring the skin’s natural barrier, and ellagic acid, which helps restore elasticity to skin.” What’s more, Connell says, “Kakadu plum is the epitome of a socially responsible, sustainable crop.”

Mature, dry or sensitive skin responds well to kakadu plum. Its high vitamin C content gives it the ability to address fine lines, dark spots and under-eye puffiness. And while its moisturing properties make it valuable in winter, kakadu can also help skin exposed to air conditioning for prolonged periods.

Kakadu plum is available in cleansers, creams and serums. The best formulations pair it with botanicals such as desert lime, yucca, bearberry, macadamia, aloe and another Australian native known as the quandong.

Vitamin C helps skin look fresh and youthful. Kakadu plum supplies this crucial nutrient in abundance.

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