The African Baobab: The Gift that Keeps Giving

A product that you will see increasingly on ingredients list for organic cosmetics is Baobab Extract. Baobab has been used for centuries, but it went from a local subsistence staple to a global commodity after the European Commission authorized the African Baobab as a novel food and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Asogwa et al., 2021, 6). 


Figure 1: A Baobab Tree. 

Source: https://aduna.com/blogs/learn/the-baobab-tree 


Adansonia digitata, Malvaceae family, was named the African Baobab by the English and French (Asogwa et al., 2021, 1). A few local names for this tree are magic tree, tree of life, upside-down tree, symbol of the earth, and monkey bread of Africa (1). There are 8 types of the Baobab around tropical regions, however it is native to Western Africa’s arid and semi-arid regions (1). These large deciduous trees are on average 20-30 m tall with a circumference of 14 to 32 m and can live up to 450 years (1). The Baobab is a life saver in the African Savannah as they have a great tolerance for both hot and dry conditions (1), humidifies soil, and are a source of food, water, and shelter for humans and animals (6). This multifaceted tree has been used for clothing, medicines, shade protection, non-wood forestry, and raw material for several products (i.e., rope, food and beverages). The tree's medicinal use surrounds its nutritional value from the high levels of protein, calcium, vitamin A and C, and all 8 essential amino acids (4). As well as its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune stimulant properties (5). Overall, the Baobab is a critical non-timber forest product, since it can be collected for subsistence and commercial uses to help generate income and stable livelihoods for rural communities.


What does the Baobab have to do with cosmetics? 


Figure 2: The Baobab Fruit before it naturally dries on branch. 

Source: https://aduna.com/blogs/learn/the-baobab-tree 


Although people are well versed in using the Baobab tree for its health benefits, there has been a rise in cosmetic patens to use the African Baobab to add in skincare and hair products for its “soothing, emulsifying, softening, and hydrating effects” (Asogwa et al., 2021, 6). Baobab extract is made from the pulp, and seeds found in the large oval shaped fruit. Studies have shown that Baobab extract contains antioxidant properties from the high amounts of Vitamin C (10 times more than an orange), bioflavonoids, and pro-Vitamin A (5). These phytochemicals in the Baobab fruit are able to protect the body’s cells from oxidative damage from water, food and air (5). In addition, Baobab seeds are a source of unsaturated fatty acids from the Vitamin A, D, E, and K (Babiker et al, 2017, 441). Vitamin A and K aid in cell membrane renewal, and Vitamin E contains linoleic acid which “are useful for the protection of the skin production and moisturization...decreasing inflammation and promote the reform of cells and tissue generation” (441). The Vitamin E in Baobab extract also helps with extending the shelf life of a product because it provides oxidative stability (441). 


How can FirstBase Double Dose Vitamin C serum help with your skin? 


FirstBase integrated Baobab Extract in the serum to help moisturize and prevent water loss from the skin. The extract is rich in Vitamin C, which gives it antioxidant properties that help to protect the skin from external aggression, therefore preventing the signs of premature ageing. In fact, FirstBase integrated the Baobab Extract to improve skin texture, elasticity and to regulate skin barriers while reducing inflammation. The extract gives tone and firmness to the skin and relieves redness. Amazingly, the Baobab Extract has a hydrating effect which helps to strengthen the skin and regenerate its moisture barrier. 


References


Asogwa, I.S., Ibrahim, A.N., & Agbaka, J.I. (2021). African baobab: its role in enhancing nutrition, health and the environment. Trees, Forest and People, (3) 100043, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tfp.2020.100043


Babiker, S., Mirghani, M.E.S., Matar, Saleh, M., Kabbashi, N.A., Alam Md. Z., & Marikkkar, J.M.N. (2017). Evaluation of antioxidant capacity and physicochemical properties of Sudanese baobab (Adansonia digitata) seed-oil. International Food Research Journal, 24 (Suppl), 441-445. http://www.ifrj.upm.edu.my/24%20(07)%202017%20supplementary/(28)%20R1.pdf