Beauty in baobab: A pilot study of the safety and efficacy of Adansonia digitata seed oil

Baatile M. Komane, Ilze Vermaak, Guy P.P. Kamatou, Beverley Summers, Alvaro M. Viljoen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Recently there has been a renewed impetus in the search for novel ingredients to be used in the cosmetic industry and Baobab (Adansonia digitata L., Malvaceae) seed oil has received high interest. In this study, a commercial Baobab seed oil sample was characterised (fatty acid content) using GCxGC-ToF-MS and a pilot study on the safety and efficacy of the seed oil was performed. The safety and efficacy of Baobab seed oil after topical application was determined using healthy adult female caucasian participants (n = 20). A 2× magnifying lamp was used for visual analysis, while for monitoring and evaluation of the irritancy level, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and hydration level of the skin, Chromameter®, Aquaflux>® and Corneometer® instruments, respectively, were used. In addition, Aquaflux® and Corneometer® instruments were used to assess occlusive effects. Thirteen methyl esters were identified using GCxGC-ToF-MS. The major fatty acids included 36.0% linoleic acid, 25.1% oleic acid and 28.8% palmitic acid with 10.1% constituting trace fatty acids. The irritancy of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) in the patch test differed significantly compared to both de-ionised water (p < 0.001) and Baobab seed oil (p < 0.001) but the difference between the irritancy of Baobab seed oil and de-ionised water was not significant (p = 0.850). The moisture efficacy test indicated a reduced TEWL (p = 0.048) and an improved capacitance moisture retention (p < 0.001) for all the test products (Baobab oil, liquid paraffin, Vaseline® intensive care lotion and Vaseline®). The occlusivity wipe-off test indicated an increased moisture hydration (p < 0.001) and decreased TEWL particularly when Baobab oil was applied. Baobab possesses hydrating, moisturising and occlusive properties when topically applied to the skin. Baobab seed oil could be a valuable functional ingredient for cosmeceutical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBrazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Adansonia digitate
  • Baobab
  • Cosmetic
  • Efficacy
  • Safety
  • Seed oil


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