Some Australian botanicals, like Kakadu Plum, Quandong, and Kangaroo Paw, are widely known for their impressive, good-for-skin Vitamin C content. Others, like Emu Apple, manage to slip under the radar – even though they're top-notch skin care ingredients in their own rights deserving of basking under the warmth of the spotlight, too. Well, that’s why this article exists. To (finally) explore the benefits of adding Emu Apple to your skincare routine.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about this unsung skin-loving hero, including what it is, how to use it, and the best products to try.
What is an Emu Apple?
First things first. Despite its admittedly misleading name, the Emu Apple – scientific name: Kunzea Pomifera – looks nothing like the typical apples you’d find at your local grocery store. Instead, much like its nickname, the “native cranberry” (aka “munterberries” or “muntries”), the Emu Apple is a golf-ball-sized fruit found along Australia’s southern coast in Victoria and South Australia, plus the Big Desert region of Northwest Victoria (1).
Emu Apple berries form in clusters. They’re typically green to red in color and are known to take on a purplish tinge as they ripen.
Benefits of Emu Apple for Skin
Like many Australian native fruits, the Emu Apple has a significantly higher antioxidant capacity than blueberries. It’s also a good source of Vitamin C, amino acids, and naturally occurring sugar alcohols, all of which have incredible benefits – ranging from fighting free radicals to boosting hydration (2, 3). But what does that mean for your skin, exactly? Let’s find out.
#1: Fights free radical damage
The Emu Apple is an antioxidant powerhouse. But why's that worth rejoicing over? To understand that we'll first need to (briefly) recap the concept of free radicals. Essentially, free radicals are reactive, unstable molecules with at least one unpaired electron. And here's something crucial to know about electrons: they hate being alone!
So, in a desperate attempt to gain a mate for these unpaired electrons, free radicals scavenge – and steal – electrons from any healthy cell they encounter, causing the latter to turn into radicals themselves. This results in a never-ending vicious cycle of damage. In the context of your skin, “victims” of the electron robbery can include your pigment-producing melanocytes, collagen-synthesizing fibroblasts, and barrier-protecting lipids.
Your body’s natural repair mechanisms can, to some degree, “mend” the damage inflicted on your skin. But it can’t heal all. Especially when you inadvertently expose your skin to additional free radical stress from everyday habits, such as unprotected UV, pollution (e.g., smog and cigarette smoke), and artificial blue light exposure. Over time, an overload of free radicals causes oxidative stress, which can ultimately break down collagen, weaken your skin barrier, and disrupt your skin microbiome. A recipe for premature skin aging (4).
And that, in turn, could physically show up on your skin by way of hyperpigmentation, sagging, flare-ups, acne, fine lines, and more. Terrible, right? Well, that’s when the antioxidants – reminder: found in Emu Apple – step in to lend a hand. "Magnanimous" in nature, antioxidants can "give away" their electrons to free radicals (which stabilizes them) before they can corrupt DNA or maim collagen.
In other words: by counteracting free radical damage, the antioxidants found in Emu Apple could help fade hyperpigmentation, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and promote a more youthful-looking complexion. Need further convincing? Look no further than these studies exploring Vitamin C’s (which Emu Apple has loads of) effect on the skin (5, 6, 7).
The topical application of Vitamin C for at least 12 weeks has been shown to significantly improve skin appearance, with notable decreases in fine lines and skin roughness. It's also been shown effective at fading hyperpigmentation.
#2: Stimulates collagen production
Collagen is the main structural protein in your skin. It’s responsible for giving your face that youthful bounce. But wait – why are we bringing up collagen again? Well, that’s because simply protecting your existing “collagen stores” from oxidative damage isn’t enough to keep your skin looking firm, young, and healthy. As it turns out, there’s another reason for collagen decline (other than free radical damage): age.
More specifically, research shows that collagen production starts to dip in most people’s bodies in their early 20s and decreases about 1% a year (8). Gasping? Don’t worry. Emu Apple can help tip your collagen levels back the right way with, once again, its rich Vitamin C content.
In addition to acting as an antioxidant that fights free radical damage, Vitamin C also appears capable of increasing your body's overall level of collagen synthesis via 2 pathways (9). The first is increasing collagen production by fibroblasts, and the second is boosting the number of fibroblasts in the skin. So, what does this mean for your skin? Well, to put it simply: the more collagen you have in the skin, the plumper it’ll look.
#3: Keeps skin well-hydrated
Don’t think the Emu Apple is only good for its Vitamin C content, either. As mentioned earlier, this Australian superfruit is also a good source of sugar alcohols and amino acids – both of which act as humectants (10, 11). Humec– … what? Simply put, a humectant is a substance that is key to keeping the skin hydrated; it’s an ingredient that helps draw water into the skin, then holding it there.
This process increases the moisture level in your stratum corneum (i.e., the top layer of skin), making your skin look less flaky and less prone to cracking and chafing. Bottom line? The Emu Apple – thanks to its sugar alcohols and amino acids content – could help hydrate your skin and protect it from the environment.
Side Effects of Emu Apple
There haven't been any documented side effects from Emu Apple skincare products (either in the form of fruit extracts or seed oil) thus far. That said, it's always wise to do a patch test first– as with any new product you add into your skincare routine.
You can do so by applying the Emu Apple infused product to a small, discreet patch of skin, like behind your ear or on the inside of your elbow. Then, wait for 24 hours. Keep an eye out for signs of redness or irritation. Only proceed with slathering it all over your face once you’re sure there are no red flags.
How to Use Emu Apple for Skin
Emu Apple takes its place in a wide range of skincare products now: from cleansers to toners, from serums to moisturizers. As such, how you use Emu Apple truly depends on your personal preference and skin needs. That said, there are 2 things you need to be mindful of when layering a skincare product containing Emu Apple with another.
Due to its high Vitamin C content, avoid pairing Emu Apple with AHAs or BHAs; these could alter your skin pH level and decrease the effectiveness of the former skincare active (12). As for the second thing you need to note? You'll have to apply the product to damp skin.
To understand why, first, you’ll need to remember that the Emu Apple has humectant properties. That means it’s capable of drawing moisture to the epidermis. But there’s a caveat to a humectant's hydrating abilities: if it can't draw water from the environment, it will pull it from the deeper layers of the skin. And you don't want that. So, always remember to apply your Emu Apple infused skin care product (or any humectants, for that matter) when your skin is still damp.
Ready to reap the rewards of Emu Apple in your beauty routine? Below, look at how easy it is to add this powerful ingredient to your vanity with Terrakai Skin’s products:
- Cleanser: Remove your makeup and wash your face with a non-stripping cleanser, like our Kakadu Plum + Emu Apple Cleansing Milk.
- Toner: Spritz on your toner of choice after cleansing. For a refreshing, hydrating skin boost, give our Emu Apple infused Kakadu Plum + Collagen Toning Mist a go.
- Serum: Massage a few drops of serum (e.g., our Turn Back The Clock Kakadu Plum, Emu Apple + Vitamin C Serum) into your face.
- Eye cream: Apply your eye cream – like our Age Defying Lemon Aspen Botanical Eye Cream – before you slather on your choice of creams and oils.
- Moisturizer: Use Australian Superfood + Vitamin C Day Moisturizer during the daytime, then pamper your skin with our Overnight Botanical Duo + Hyaluronic Acid Cream as you catch your beauty sleep. And in case you were wondering, yes, both moisturizers contain Emu Apple!
- Sunscreen (daytime): Sunscreen acts as a shield against the outside world (so you don’t end up applying all those products on your face for nothing).
Emu Apple for Skin FAQ’s
What does Emu Apple do for skin?
Emu Apple is an antioxidant powerhouse that fights oxidative damage – potentially minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, increasing collagen synthesis in the skin, and promoting an even complexion. It’s also rich in amino acids and sugar alcohols, both humectants capable of keeping the skin well-hydrated.
What skin type is Emu Apple good for?
Emu Apple is suitable for all skin types.