Sometimes, skin care trends come and bring with it some newfangled, newly discovered ingredient. Many though are rooted in centuries of wisdom and traditional medicine. This is certainly with baobab. It’s Africa’s best-kept secret and poised to go big in Asia.
What is baobab?
Baobab is the name of the tree Adansonia growing in Africa, Australia, and Madagascar. The tree is also known as the upside-down tree. That’s because when it’s shed all its leaves, the empty branches look like roots in the air as if it was planted upside-down.
It’s also called “The Tree of Life” because it can absorb and store water in it the trunk during the rainy season, and in the dry season, it produces a nutrient-rich fruit – the baobab.
The baobab fruit is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world, but every part of the Adansonia tree is valuable. The bark can be made into clothing, rope, and even as a herbal remedy to lower fever. The fruits as well as the seeds can be made into skin care products and the trunk. can store water.
The fruit, the seeds, and the leaves can be eaten. They’re associated with many health benefits. Essentially, the entire plant is edible in some form or other and a rich source of many important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
The leaves are traditionally eaten as leafy greens in a stew. They contain high-quality proteins and calcium and are easily digested.
The fruits are used in many ways and have earned the moniker superfood. When fresh, it has a dry, white flesh that tastes tangy – like tamarind. The pulp can be added to sauces to create complexity in flavour. When dried, it’s often boiled and then used to make broth. The most common commercial forms are dried fruit and powder.
The seeds are used to make baobab oil which is often used in hair and skin care products.
The nutrient profiles of the fruit and seeds are slightly different. While the fruit is famous for its high vitamin C content, the seeds are loaded with fatty acids.
The fruit contains
- Polyphenols (plant-based antioxidants)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B
Besides the omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids, baobab seeds also contain vitamins, minerals, and some rare fatty acids:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Dihydrosterculic acid
- Sterculic acid
- Malvalic acid
- Arachidic acid
- Linoleic acid
- Oleic acid
- Palmitic acid
- Stearic acid
While the leaves, fruits, and seeds have high antioxidant properties, the seeds also have high fat content. Which brings us to why baobab is on the poise to go mainstream in Asia.
Both the fruit extract as well as the seeds are used as ingredients. Since both are good sources of antioxidants, they both protect your skin from UV-induced and free radical damage.
Lighten dark spots
The fruits are high in vitamin C which is the most potent antioxidant for evening out skin tone. This vitamin reduces the amount of melanin your pigment skin cells produce. It blocks the enzyme tyrosinase that’s needed to make melanin, and so reduces pigmentation.
Vitamin C has another crucial role in your skin: It’s necessary for producing collagen. If you want to know why collagen is important for your complexion and how you can support it, jump to how to firm up your skin.
This makes the fruit an anti-ageing multitasker:
- It protects against free radical damage that could lead to premature ageing
- It boosts collagen which levels decrease as we age
- It strengthens the lips layer and so prevents moisture loss, thereby helping to decrease fine lines and wrinkles
- It protects your skin from further sun damage
Build and maintain a healthy skin barrier
The baobab seeds are made into a light, smooth, and silky oil. It’s lightweight and sinks easily into your skin without leaving a greasy film. The many skin-friendly fatty acids such as omega-3, 6, and 9 help your skin build and maintain a healthy skin barrier.
It can even help and soften the driest of skin. It traps the moisture in the skin and prevents moisture in your skin from drying out. With regular use, a strengthens the skin barrier and helps prevent ageing and maintain, soft, smooth, and resilient skin.
Rejuvenating and restorative
The sun is one of the main culprits in damaging your skin. It can not only cause dark spots, collagen breakdown, it can also deplete the fatty acids in your skin. The fatty acids are vital in strengthening and regulating cell function.
Baobab oil nourishes the skin cells and replenishes the levels of the fatty acids. The nutrients Vitamins A, D, E, and K rejuvenate and renew skin cells. While vitamin A and K help in cell membrane renewal, vitamin E is needed in things like skin repair, cellular restoration, and tissue generation.
Baobab, that is the entire tree has been used in some form as food, for medicinal and beauty purposes. It was recognised as generally safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009.
In general, it’s best to start slowly with any new product. Especially if you have a history of allergic reactions, patch test before you fully introduce it into your routine.
How to use
You can use a product containing baobab at any time. Check the labels for baobab. It may be added as
- Adansonia digitate
- baobab seed oil
- Adansonia digitate oil
- Adansonia oil
It has a comedogenic rating of 2. This means it probably will not clog your pores unless you’re skin is very oily or prone to clogging. The comedogenic rating also means that it’s suitable for many skin types including normal, dry, mature, oily, sensitive, and acne-prone skin.
If you want to add it as face oil, look for cold-pressed and unrefined varieties. If it’s an ingredient in a skin or hair care product, opt for a higher concentration. This means products that list it as one of the first 10 ingredients or show the percentage.
Baobab has rightly earned its moniker as “The Tree of Life”, offering so many benefits, especially for your skin. If you include it as a face oil at the end of your routine, make sure you buy a cold-pressed and unrefined oil and store it in a dark bottle.
Not many people know how baobab can help improve skin elasticity and maintain healthy skin. Since you’re already here and have discovered its remarkable benefits, help spread the word. Who knows, it may save someone’s skin out there.