Beauty in baobab: Super oil from Africa poised to go mainstream in Asia

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

The demand for baobab oil has been rising in the Japanese market in recent years. ©GettyImages
The demand for baobab oil has been rising in the Japanese market in recent years. ©GettyImages
The demand for baobab oil has been rising in the Japanese market in recent years and one supplier believes it will soon spread to more parts of Asia.

Japanese supplier of natural oils and butters, Celmyon, has been producing and supplying baobab oil for nearly 10 years.

However, it has seen sales start to pick up for the last two years, said company president and CEO, Mahamadou Tandia.

“The baobab tree is known as the tree of life. It has a great sustainability story and is also a natural, organic ingredient, that’s why it appeals to the consumer.”

Now trending

Tandia commented that baobao oil was very marketable in Japan because of its connection to a famous novel.

“In Japan, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is well-loved. Young people, mostly ladies, are excited when they hear about the baobab tree from the novel.”

Tandia describes baobab oil as a highly moisturising ingredient that is light on the skin, making it an oil for all seasons.

“That’s perfect for Japan because consumers like light textures. They can use it for winter and summer when it gets warm.”

While the oil is trending right now, Tandia is cautiously optimistic about its future prospects in the cosmetics industry.

“In Japan, everything is about trends. Things trend for two to three years and then die off. It’s really hard to say. But we are seeing demand for the oil in markets like China and we are selling to South Korea and South East Asia already.”

He added: “I'm sure that we will keep on having baobab oil in cosmetics for a while. The oil is so good, that it’s hard to imagine people wanting to replace it with another oil. And people are still looking for new, exotic oils.”

Superhero oil

Baobab oil is extracted from the seeds of the fruit that grows on the baobab tree, which is sacred in many parts of Africa.

The oil is rich in nutrients, containing omegas 3, 6, 9 as well as a host of vitamins such as A, C, D and E.

According to Tandia, its properties allow it to improve the skin barrier, leading to less irritation and concerns such as wrinkles.

“It’s marketed as a moisturising product, but we have clinical data that shows that it can reduce wrinkles. Daily use of baobab oil can reduce wrinkles by 15% to 40%, depending on the person.”

He added that Celmyon is still conducting research to find applications for the oil to tackle some of the biggest skin issues today.

For instance, the company is also looking at how the oil can benefit a rapidly ageing society.

“Ageing is an issue, not just in Japan but worldwide. It is a process you cannot stop, but you can age well. Today, we see people ageing prematurely for various reasons.”

He added that it was also exploring its applications for people who have issues with skin barrier and sensitive skin.

“We are seeing a rise in sensitive skin – not just in developed countries, but developing countries as well because these countries have high pollution rates. Baobab oil can fight free radicals, inflammation and we are still doing research to find new properties.”

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