Kangaroo Paw may not be top of mind – or there at all, really – when you’re thinking about natural, vegan antioxidants in skincare. Maybe its name misled you into thinking that it’s an animal by-product (spoiler alert: it’s not!) Or perhaps it’s the first time you’ve ever heard of it. Either way, this article’s here to show you the Kangaroo Paw deserves a spot on your skincare regimen.
Intrigued yet? Keep reading to learn about all things Kangaroo Paw – including what it is, its benefits for the skin, and, more importantly, how to use it to take your skincare to a higher level.
What is Kangaroo Paw?
First, banish all thoughts about Kangaroo Paw being sourced from its namesake, Australia’s best-known wildlife: the kangaroo. It’s not.
Instead, “Kangaroo Paw” refers to a group of flowering plants native to Southwest Australia. These plants (belonging to the Anigozanthos genus) are known for their unique blooms, which typically come in bright colors such as red, orange, yellow, and pink – a real beauty to behold. So much so, in fact, that they’re the official floral emblem of Western Australia!
Oh, and here's an interesting, historical tidbit about the Kangaroo Paw flower. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have harnessed its medicinal properties to help with wounds, cuts, and burns for thousands of years (1). And now, modern science has uncovered the “how” behind this centuries-old flower.
It comes down to 2 compounds: ferulic acid and linoleic acid. Ferulic acid is a potent antioxidant, while linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid (2). Explore how this “collab” benefits your skin below.
Benefits of Kangaroo Paw for Skin
#1: Protects the skin barrier
Like other antioxidants in your skincare (e.g., CoQ10 and Vitamin C), the ferulic acid found in Kangaroo Paw fights back against – and could potentially reverse – free radical damage in your skin (3). But wait. What’s with all the fuss about free radical damage again?
Here’s a refresher. Free radicals are molecules that have been damaged by exposure to environmental stressors like sun rays and pollution. In their search for an additional electron, these unstable molecules spark a chain reaction that can eventually break down your skin’s collagen, cause hyperpigmentation, and trigger irritations. Hello fine lines; hello sunspots, and hello, redness.
And that’s where Kangaroo Paw (i.e., ferulic acid) steps in to save the day. By neutralizing free radicals, this Australian botanical skincare ingredient shields your skin from harmful UV rays, smog, chemicals, and blue light exposure – ensuring your skin stays radiant, firm, and smooth (4).
Kangaroo Paw's benefits for the skin extend beyond simply plugging the electron slot of free radicals. The plant is also rich in linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid the body uses to make ceramides that help build the outermost layer of the skin (i.e., the stratum corneum) (5).
Essentially, you can think of ceramides as the “cement” that hold your skin cells, which are the “bricks” – in the stratum corneum – together (6). So, like how a wall of bricks wouldn’t be effective at guarding against environmental onslaughts, neither are your skin cells without ceramides.
Bottom line? Adding Kangaroo Paw into your skincare routine enhances the structure of your skin barrier. In turn, protecting against everything harmful – while keeping all the goodness (e.g., hydration) within.
#2: Fades skin hyperpigmentation
Struggling with dark spots? The ferulic acid content in Kangaroo Paw has got you covered. But first, some background on dark spots and what causes them in the first place.
Hyperpigmentation occurs when melanocytes – the cells in your skin that contain pigment – overproduces melanin on one concentrated area of the skin. It's a protective mechanism in response to several factors. These include UV exposure (sunspots), inflammation (acne scars), and even hormonal changes (melasma).
So, where does Kangaroo Paw come into the picture? As it turns out, research shows ferulic acid capable of inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that causes melanogenesis – the production of melanin (7).
Take this 2016 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, for instance (8). The researchers randomly divided participants diagnosed with melasma into 3 groups, with each sub-group receiving a different dermo-cosmetic product to use. After 6 months, the product containing ferulic acid within its formula proved the most effective at reducing hyperpigmentation in the skin.
In short? Topical Kangaroo Paw can help you keep skin discoloration at bay.
#3: Enhances the effects of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most in-demand skin care ingredients for a reason. It really works. Rough texture, uneven skin tone, fine lines, acne scars, general dullness – you can name just about any common skin woe, and there's a good chance that Vitamin C could help.
The only (and relatively serious) problem? In topical skin care products, Vitamin C isn't necessarily the most stable thing around; when exposed to light and air, it readily oxidizes to become dehydroascorbic acid, which is less efficacious. Couple that with the fact that Vitamin C doesn’t easily penetrate the skin’s barrier, and you’d have essentially missed out on most of the ingredient’s beneficial properties (9).
Thankfully, there’s a fix. Yes, you guessed it: it’s Kangaroo Paw.
Its ferulic acid content has been shown to stabilize Vitamin C – helping it last longer without losing its potency. More impressively still, this 2005 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggests that ferulic acid has the potential to offer twice the amount of photoprotection when combined with Vitamins C and E (10)!
Side Effects of Kangaroo Paw
Overall, Kangaroo Paw is safe for most skin types.
If you have sensitive skin, though, it’s a good idea to test a small amount of the product containing Kangaroo Paw ahead of time, just as you would with any new addition to your regimen.
How to Use Kangaroo Paw for Skin
These days, Kangaroo Paw (typically in extract form) can be found in many different skincare products – from serums to oils to cream.
If you’re thinking about adding it into your routine, the good thing is that you can use it any time of the day, both morning and evening. The one thing you should note about using Kangaroo Paw is that you should avoid applying it in tandem with exfoliating acids like glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids. They can alter the pH level of your skin, decreasing the effectiveness of Kangaroo Paw on your skin (11).
Can’t wait to add Kangaroo Paw skincare products to your vanity? That’s understandable. Here’s how you could do so (with Terrakai’s products, no less!):
- Cleanser: Remove your makeup and wash your face with a non-stripping cleanser, like our Kangaroo Paw Cleansing Gel.
- Toner: Spritz on your toner of choice after cleansing. For a refreshing, hydrating skin boost, give our Reset + Refresh Kangaroo Paw Toning Mist a go.
- Serum: Massage a few drops of serum (e.g., our Hydrating Kangaroo Paw + CoQ10 Serum) into your face.
- Eye cream: Apply your eye cream before you slather on your choice of creams and oils. Ahem, like our Age Defying Lemon Aspen Botanical Eye Cream.
- Moisturizer: Use Kangaroo Paw + Vitamin C Moisturizer during the daytime, then pamper your skin with our Midnight Recovery Kangaroo Paw + Vitamin C Overnight Cream as you catch your beauty sleep.
- 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).
Kangaroo Paw for Skin FAQ’s
What does Kangaroo Paw do for skin?
The Kangaroo Paw contains ferulic acid, a potent antioxidant that reduces fine lines and wrinkles, firms the skin, boosts radiance, and promotes an even complexion. It’s also rich in linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid crucial for the production of ceramides – lipids responsible for keeping the natural skin barrier functioning optimally. As such, the regular use of Kangaroo Paw on the skin can help it stay well-hydrated.
Is Kangaroo Paw vegan?
Don’t worry. Kangaroo Paw isn’t extracted from the fluffy mammals you have in mind – but from a plant that’s native to Southwestern Australia. So, yes, that makes Kangaroo Paw vegan.
What skin type is Kangaroo Paw good for?
Kangaroo Paw is suitable for all skin types.