If you’ve ever picked up May Gibbs’ classic children’s book series Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, you’ll understand the captivating magic of Australia’s natural landscape. From the cheeky gumnut babies to the sweet little wattle babies, Gibbs recorded the enchanting beauty of native plants with fresh eyes.
What she saw was a country that was unique for its diverse plant life; flora that managed to magically thrive in the harshest of climates.
“Many people don’t realise that the Australian landscape actually has more biodiversity than the Amazon and Asia combined,” says Biologi founder and cosmetic chemist Ross Macdougald.
“Aboriginals have long been tapping into the power of Australian natives, leveraging natural ingredients for health and skin benefits. We’ve been sitting on a veritable skincare goldmine for years, but have only recently tapped into it.”
While research and development in natives is still in its infancy, scientists have made headway in bridging the knowledge gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“Many native extracts have been used for hundreds of years by Indigenous Australians for their wound-healing ability and antiseptic properties, along with their ability to treat ailments such as sore throats and ear infections, and to boost immunity,” says Anna Mitsios, naturopath and founder of Edible Beauty.
“I’m blown away by the incredible profile of the extracts that are found in our own backyard.”
Ingredients such as Kakadu plum, finger lime, quandong and wattleseed have put Australia on the global skincare map, thanks to their extraordinarily high levels of bio-active ingredients.
“They differ from the traditional, free-radical scavenging activity found in normal blueberries and pomegranates, and have superior anti-ageing, protective and hydrating benefits,” Anna says.
“Some extracts boast 50-100 times the antioxidant activity of vitamins C and E. They’re also rich in phenolic acids, which encourage skin elasticity, and flavone glycosides, which intensify the antioxidant action of vitamin C, while also hydrating and protecting the skin.”
When it comes to applying active native ingredients, it’s wise to choose the one you need most, rather than mixing and matching several at once.
“What can happen when you mix Australian natives is that the active ingredients can diminish each other,” Ross explains. “Instead, choose your favourites and apply to specific areas, or at different times during the day, but never layer them.”
Thanks to a general cultural shift towards natural skincare ingredients, A-Beauty (Australian beauty) is captivating consumers globally.
“More people are beginning to understand the potent power of native ingredients and their benefits for skin,” says Natio Product Development Manager Allison Harvey. “Australian products will always be celebrated globally, as our environment is richly diverse. Native ingredients have a strong future.”
Finger Lime: Perfect for anti-ageing
“Many varieties of finger lime contain three times the vitamin C found in a mandarin, and more antioxidant content than goji berries,” says Ross, adding that finger lime can help to improve your skin’s hydration, support collagen production, and also help with premature ageing from too much sun.
“Finger lime interrupts keratinisation, the barrier that holds dead skin cells together with a glue-like substance, which reduces oil build-up, wrinkles and uneven skin tone.”
Quandong: Perfect for sun damaged skin
“Quandong inhibits melanogenesis and provides a strong defence against free radicals and UV damage that causes sunspots and pigmentation,” Ross says.
“Pigmentation is often a harmless condition, but prevention and cure are both possible with quandong, which can leave skin looking healthy and increase your confidence.”
Kakadu Plum: A great source of Vitamin C
“Vitamin C is an important nutrient in collagen production and also acts as a potent antioxidant,” Allison says. “It’s good for skin firming, it adds radiance and helps reduce wrinkles.”
Thanks to the high vitamin C content, this native fruit is also good for your health.
“Kakadu Plum has been found to have the highest levels of ascorbic acid and antioxidants of any known food, and has been used to treat colds, the flu, and headaches,” Ross says.
Wattle Seed: Shrink pores and reduce inflammation
The bright yellow blossoms might steal the show, but the small brown seeds of the wattle plant pack a skincare punch.
“Wattleseed is a great ingredient for encouraging healthy skin cell regeneration because of the triterpenoid saponins – a fancy word for a type of antioxidant that has been found to reduce the activation of inflammatory markers in the skin,” Anna says.
“The seeds have wonderful cleansing properties, which makes it an effective agent in shrinking pores, and they are also rich in amino acids and gallic acid, which promote youthful and supple skin.”