This skincare ingredient promotes radiance, stimulates collagen production, and scavenges free radicals from the environment, pollution, and sun rays. Quick, what is it? If you’re well versed in the beauty scene, the answer would have popped right into your mind: “Vitamin C”. You’re spot on! Only, this article adds a new twist to the discussion of this perennial favorite – by introducing you to one of Australia’s most well-kept beauty secrets … the Kakadu Plum, which has the highest recorded natural amount of Vitamin C of any food in the world (50 times more than oranges, and 277 times more than blueberries!) (1)
But wait. Kakadu Plum? Um, what even is that? Keep reading to learn more about this Vitamin C superstar, its skincare benefits, and how to build it into your regimen.
What is a Kakadu Plum?
Judging from its name, you’d have pictured the Kakadu as a juicy, purple plum. In reality, though, the Kakadu Plum is a flowering plant more closely related to the almond than the plum family. This explains its appearance: yellow-green and adorably small – like the size of an olive or cherry.
Kakadu Plums are native to Australia, abundant in the Eucalypt woodlands of the northern savannas. While Kakadu Plum’s may have only recently taken up its role as a “supercharged skincare ingredient”, Aboriginal Australians have been using the fruit as a food and medicine – from flu relief to wound-healing – for centuries now (2).
And in the last 2 decades, modern science has (finally) caught up to the plum’s impressive properties and health-promoting activities. In addition to its off-the-charts Vitamin C content, research also shows the Kakadu Plum contains various chemicals that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties (3, 4).
Benefits of Kakadu Plum for Skin
Kakadu Plum’s properties sound impressive for sure. But how do they benefit your skin, exactly? Find out below.
#1: Protects the skin from oxidative damage
Owing to its high Vitamin C content, Kakadu Plum acts as a potent antioxidant capable of neutralizing free radicals. So what, you ask? To understand the significance of this, you first need to know what free radicals are – and how they impact skin health.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that form within your skin because of exposure to environmental stressors like UV rays, pollution, and blue light exposure (think of all those hours you spend facing digital screens!) They’re bad news for your skin when left unchecked. Their search for an additional electron in a desperate attempt to “stabilize” itself leaves damage in its wake: from sunspots to premature signs of skin aging, including fine lines and wrinkles (5).
And now, back to Kakadu Plum. By scavenging free radicals and "offsetting" daily aggressors, this superfruit helps brighten, firm, and smoothen your skin. This study, for instance, showed that individuals with mild to moderately photodamaged skin reported significant improvements in skin appearance – including fine lines, roughness, and skin tone – after applying Vitamin C (which Kakadu Plum has lots of) topically for 3 months (6).
Another cool thing about Kakadu Plum is that it could inhibit your skin's melanin production, which causes skin discoloration (7). So, with continued topical use, skincare products formulated with Kakadu Plum may help prevent hyperpigmentation (e.g., sunspots) from forming in the first place.
#2: Stimulates collagen synthesis
Amazingly, Kakadu Plum’s skin-saving benefits aren’t limited to its ability to ward off free radical damage.
This Indigenous Australian superfood could also help encourage collagen production in the skin. As the most abundant protein in the human body, collagen plays a leading role in keeping all the “scaffolding” in place in the skin’s dermal layer – in turn, responsible for promoting skin elasticity, plumpness, and an overall youthful-looking complexion.
But how does Kakadu Plum boost collagen in the skin, exactly? Answer: once again, it comes down to the fruit’s high Vitamin C content. As it turns out, your skin requires Vitamin C to synthesize collagen.
To get down to the science bit, though, it appears that Vitamin C regulates the hydroxylation (i.e., the introduction of a hydroxyl group) of collagen molecules – a process necessary for the latter's stability in the body (8, 9). In addition, Vitamin C also appears to increase the growth of fibroblasts, special skin cells that produce collagen (10).
Does that translate into visible results on the skin? Yes. Studies consistently show that the use of Vitamin C in topical applications for at least 12 weeks can increase collagen production in the skin (11). In turn, significantly decreasing fine lines, wrinkles, and apparent roughness of skin (12).
So, to summarize: the topical application of Kakadu Plum could help accelerate your skin's collagen production. And in doing so, this Australian superfruit helps keep your skin “feeling” bouncy, plump, and firm.
#3: Soothes inflammation and combats breakouts
Kakadu Plum's benefits for the skin does not simply revolve around its Vitamin C content, either. If you have acne-prone skin, you'd be glad to hear of the other 2 major compounds found in Kakadu Plum: gallic acid and ellagic acid.
Gallic acid’s antibacterial properties could help “kill” acne-causing bacteria, while ellagic acid’s anti-inflammatory properties could bring down the redness, splotchiness, and overall angriness observed in inflammatory acne.
Feeling skeptical? Look at this 2020 study published in Dermatologic Therapy (13). The researchers randomly assigned participants to 3 treatment groups. The first received twice-daily benzoyl peroxide 5%; the second twice-daily benzoyl peroxide 5% combined with erythromycin 3%, and the last twice-daily combination therapy consisting of gallic acid.
After 8 weeks, it was concluded that the combination therapy – featuring gallic acid – proved just as effective an acne treatment as the “traditional” treatments (i.e., both benzoyl peroxide and erythromycin).
As for ellagic acid? While there’s currently limited research on ellagic acid relating specifically to acne-prone skin, there are studies suggesting it to be a potential therapeutic alternative for various inflammatory skin conditions – including atopic dermatitis (skin eczema) (14).
Side Effects of Kakadu Plum
Topical Kakadu Plum is generally safe and well-tolerated. That said, those with sensitive skin might experience a slight burning or tingling sensation because of the high Vitamin C content. Regardless, it's always a good idea to perform a patch test whenever you introduce a new skincare product (e.g., one with Kakadu Plum extract, in this instance) into your regimen. Keep an eye out for any pain, burning, or itching within 24 hours – those are signs of allergy.
How to Use Kakadu Plum for Skin
You can apply Kakadu Plum both in the morning and evening. But here's something important to note if you're using this Australian superfruit in the morning: Vitamin C becomes less effective when exposed to light, so you need to give the product time to absorb into your skin before heading out.
You don’t necessarily need to wait a specific amount of time (e.g., 5 minutes). So long as the product’s absorbed, you’re good to go.
Oh, and never mix Kakadu Plum with acidic skincare actives (15). That includes your glycolic and salicylic acid. When combined, the ingredients could destabilize each other – and can be irritating to the skin. Another combination you should avoid at all costs is Kakadu Plum with benzoyl peroxide. The latter can oxidize Vitamin C and, therefore, make your Kakadu Plum-infused product less effective.
What about skincare actives that pair nicely with Kakadu Plum? First, Ferulic Acid and Vitamin E; both can help stabilize and reduce pH balance for easier absorption into the skin.
Then, there are peptides. They boost the skin's barrier functions – so it's better able to "lock-in" all that Vitamin C goodness. Psst: thus, explaining why you’d never fail to find “peptides” listed on all our products containing Kakadu Plum.
Look at how easy it is to build Kakadu Plum into your routine with Terrakai’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 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 a nourishing 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 Overnight Botanical Duo + Hyaluronic Acid as you catch your beauty sleep. Note: both moisturizers contain Kakadu Plum!
- 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).
Kakadu Plum for Skin FAQ’s
What are the benefits of Kakadu Plum?
With its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, topical Kakadu Plum can help fight oxidative damage, lighten dark spots, boost collagen production, reduce red and inflamed skin – helping you achieve a smoother, clearer, more radiant complexion.
Does Kakadu Plum lighten skin?
No, Kakadu Plum does not lighten skin (i.e., help you achieve a paler skin tone). That said, Kakadu Plum is great for combatting dark spots caused by age, blemishes, or sun rays.
What skin type is Kakadu Plum good for?
Every skin type will benefit from Kakadu Plum.
Terrakai Skin Products that Include Kakadu Plum