ALL ABOUT PLUM KERNEL OIL: A LUXURIOUS COSMETIC EMOLLIENT
- Plum Kernel Oil is sourced from the fruit kernels of the Prunus domestica (European Plum) tree native to the region of Europe and Southwestern Asia.
- Rich in Oleic Fatty Acids and Vitamin E, it is deeply hydrating and absorbs into the skin to leave a soft, smooth, satin-like finish.
- Plum Kernel Oil is prized for its naturally pleasant scent even in its unrefined state, which can remind people of almonds and decadent marzipan.
- A unique but versatile carrier oil, it is ideal for aromatherapy as well as cosmetic formulations ranging from lip balms to facial creams. It is particularly recommended for anti-aging, dry skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, all-natural, and fragrance-free skin care applications.
HISTORY OF PLUM KERNEL OIL
The humble plum is thought to be one of the earliest fruits naturalized for human nourishment. Often associated with positive and pleasant connotations, the plum tree was commonly planted in gardens as ornamental pieces, where their colorful leaves and tiny flowers made an elegant addition to natural sceneries. Today, many species and varieties of plum exist, with stunning variations in the fruit's skin color and inner flesh along with its accompanying taste, which can range in intensity from sweet to sour with peachy, lemony, and sugary overtones. Two of the most popular plum species include the European plum (Prunus domestica) and the Japanese plum (Prunus salicina).
The European plum, Prunus domestica, belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae), as do many other popular flowering fruit crops including strawberries, cherries, peaches, and apples. The modern European plum is thought to be a fusion of numerous Mediterranean and Asian varieties that is many centuries old; historians believe its origins lie in the dreamy Caucasus Mountains of Eurasia. Cultivation of European plums in the Mediterranean was thought to echo the conquest of the region by Alexander the Great during the fourth century BC. Prunus domestica was also introduced to the United States by keen settlers, and commercial production of plums is thought to have started in California in the late 1800s.
For many centuries, plums have been culturally significant fruits due to their nourishing qualities and sweet, rich taste. The beauty of plum imagery can be traced back to as early as the first century, when ancient artwork featuring the fruit was uncovered in central Europe. Indeed, in the 1700s, the word 'plum' was thought to refer to something that was pleasing or decadent, much like a luxurious dessert. Throughout history, plums have been eaten both fresh and dried and also incorporated into many beverages, jellies and jams. Compared to Japanese plums, European plums are now particularly popular in dried applications.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the production of Plum Kernel Oil initially began in countries such as France for culinary purposes. The interest in using the kernels to extract its fixed oils was two-fold: the potential to reduce waste as well as expand the consumption and use of its healthy properties. In particular, plum pits were produced as a result of the manufacture of plum products, and as their popularity surged, making use of these fruit pits was thought to be a worthy venture for both environmental sustainability and the food industry. The resulting Plum Kernel Oil was quickly embraced as it was found to have a mild, pleasing, sophisticated nutty taste ideal for cooking and flavoring, especially for pastries, desserts, salads, and seafood dishes.
Eventually, the rich emollience, sensorial qualities, and antioxidant profile of this fruit oil was extended for cosmetic purposes as well. Once a little-known cosmetic ingredient, cold-pressed Plum Kernel Oil is now incorporated within a wide range of beauty and personal care products, including facial moisturizers, body lotions, serums, hand creams, baby care products, hair conditioners, and lip balms.
PLUM KERNEL OIL BENEFITS AND COMPOSITION
Plum Kernel Carrier Oil is characterized by a strikingly high concentration of Vitamin E antioxidant, strong resistance to oxidation, and a high ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids relative to saturated fatty acids. Its unique, luxurious scent is also a quality remarked by many, conjuring up images of almonds and marzipans and warm desserts.
The main chemical constituents of Plum Kernel Carrier Oil are: Oleic Acids (60-80%), Linoleic Acids (15-25%), Palmitic Acid (5-10%), Stearic Acid (1-4%), Palmitoleic Acid (1-2%), and Vitamin E. Analytical techniques including gas chromatography and mass spectrometry have revealed that its natural fragrance is high in benzene derivatives, contributing to its sweet and appealing odor. The antioxidative power of Plum Kernel Oil is also thought to be much higher than other popular oils, including Olive Oil and Argan Oil.
OLEIC ACIDS (OMEGA 9) are known to:
- Contribute to the skin's suppleness and moisture levels
- Exhibit antioxidant properties, helping to fend off the impact of free radicals
- Reduce the appearance of aging, such as age spots, premature wrinkles, and fine lines
- Relieve symptoms of dry skin, redness, or irritation
- Promote shinier and healthier-looking hair while taming frizz
- Exhibit hypotensive, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, and weight-regulating properties
LINOLEIC ACID (OMEGA 6) are known to:
- Be an effective emulsifier and thickener in cosmetic formulations
- Boost moisture and moisture retention in skin and hair
- Exhibit antioxidant properties that protect and rejuvenate the appearance of skin
- Exhibit topical anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties
- Exhibit cardioprotective and cholesterol-regulating properties
PALMITIC ACID is known to:
- Be an effective emulsifier, thickener, emollient, and surfactant in cosmetic formulations
- Add body, richness, and opacity to cosmetic formulations
- Act as an occlusive to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL)
- Soften hair without leaving a greasy or sticky residue
STEARIC ACID is known to:
- Have cleansing properties that purge dirt, sweat, and excess sebum from hair and skin
- Be an ideal emulsifying agent that binds water and oil
- Help products remain potent when stored for long periods of time
- Condition and protect hair from damage without diminishing shine and luster
PALMITOLEIC ACID (OMEGA 7) is known to:
- Contribute to the health and rejuvenation of the skin, hair, and lips
- Exhibit antioxidant properties, helping to fend off the impact of free radicals
- Reduce the appearance of aging, such as age spots, premature wrinkles, and fine lines
- Boost the suppleness of the skin by supporting collagen production
- Enhance the strength and flexibility of hair stands
- Exhibit cardioprotective, insulin-regulating, anti-inflammatory, and weight-regulating properties
VITAMIN E is known to:
- Have strong antioxidant properties that slow the look of aging
- Promote the repair and restoration of scarred, burned, or blemished skin
- Slow down moisture loss from skin and hair
- Exhibit topical anti-inflammatory properties and relieve symptoms of dry, scaly, or inflamed skin
- Enhance overall immune function
- Enhance the growth of healthy nails
As illustrated, Plum Kernel Carrier Oil is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:
COSMETIC: Emollient, Antioxidant, Anti-Aging, Conditioner, Revitalizer, Anti-Inflammatory, Lightweight, Non-Comedogenic, Mild Natural Scent
MEDICINAL: Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Restorative, Cardioprotective, Insulin-Regulating, Hypotensive, Weight Reduction
As it is not as commonly used in cosmetics as other oils, Plum Kernel Oil instantly adds label appeal and a novelty factor to any beauty or personal care product, making it easy for brands to differentiate themselves from the competition.
NDA's Plum Kernel Carrier Oil is cosmetic-grade and not meant for ingestion.
CULTIVATING AND EXTRACTING QUALITY PLUM KERNEL OIL
Plum trees can grow to approximately 15-16 feet and are known to be quite adaptable to their surrounding climate and soil conditions. Flowering sometime in between the winter and the start of spring, the pretty, floral-scented plum blossoms in turn give rise to richly-colored fruits. European plum trees grow wonderfully in more cooler, milder climates and are also self-pollinating. Japanese plum trees, on the other hand, will generally require cross-pollination.
Prunus domestica varieties can grow in sandy or clay soils but favor well-draining soils and partial shade, and can also sometimes be highly sensitive to levels of rainfall especially during summer. Very wet soils in particular can make the trees susceptible to fungal diseases that commonly affect stone fruit crops including Brown Rot and Cherry Leaf Spot.
Turkey, Italy, France, and China are now some of the world's most reputed producers of the European plum. Plum trees in Turkey can often be wild-crafted and are found all over the country, amongst other fruit crops and cultivars. The southeastern regions of Anatolia, where the climate can be warmer and much more arid, are the only places where plums are not grown. Plum cultivation accounts for roughly 13% of total stone fruit production in Turkey.
The harvest period for European plums commences in July and can last until September, although this can vary from region to region.
How Is Plum Kernel Oil Extracted?
Being a stone fruit, the plum consists of fruity flesh which envelopes a woody 'pit' or 'endocarp'. The pit in turn wraps around the plum seed, also known as the 'kernel'. Following the harvest period, the pits are isolated from the fruit, sometimes with the help of mechanical tools, and then dried. Alternatively, the pits may be obtained sustainably as by-products from food and beverage production.
The kernels are then milled, crushed, or pulverized to increase the surface area of contact for expeller pressing. During the cold-pressing process, the plum raw material is compressed at high pressures which causes its natural oils to 'expel' or release without the use of heat or chemicals. This results in a crude oil that ranges from light yellow to yellow, is of medium consistency, and exudes a light pleasant smell that is faintly reminiscent of almonds. The oil may be cleaned by simple filtering or centrifugation.
While the oil yield for cold pressing is typically not as high compared to other techniques such as solvent extraction, the yield for plum kernels in particular can be above 50%. By avoiding the use of heat, it helps retain the oil's valuable vitamins, antioxidants, and other naturally-occurring properties which can be especially beneficial for consumer products. In addition to this, because there is no chance of solvent residues, the oil is also safer and more healthful for topical use and considered to be much more ecologically friendly.
PLUM KERNEL OIL USES
The versatility and ease of use of Plum Kernel Oil makes it possible to be incorporated within a wide range of skin care, hair care, body care, hand care, sun care, and lip care formulations. Its pleasing scent allows all-natural formulations to smell appealing without resorting to fragrance oils. Plum Kernel Oil has been featured in massage oils, hair and facial serums, body butters, lotions, moisturizers, baby creams, hair conditioners, soaps, makeup, as well as bath and shower products. It is also an ideal carrier oil for aromatherapy and massage therapy.
Used topically, Plum Kernel Oil makes a non-greasy and nourishing emollient with a medium-to-fast absorption rate. It can be applied 'neat' to the skin, scalp, hair strands, and nails for instant softness. Regular use can act as a natural remedy to further ease symptoms of dryness, itchiness, flakiness, or irritation. A dab of Plum Kernel Oil can be applied to the face with clean fingertips and gently rubbed into the skin to dissolve makeup, dirt, and impurities before regular cleansing. This technique is especially suitable for those with dry or mature skin as it helps prevents over-stripping of the face's natural oils.
Because of its high Vitamin E (antioxidant) content, Plum Kernel Oil is excellent in anti-aging formulas such as creams and serums. It is known to support the protective function of the skin by slowing down or preventing the free radical damage that can contribute to visible signs of ageing such as wrinkles, crow's feet, age spots, sagging textures, and loss of radiance in the skin. Due to its non-comedogenic properties, it can also be a useful cosmetic ingredient for formulations geared towards acne-prone or oily skin. Plum Kernel Oil is also revered in sensitive and baby skin care formulations, particularly due to its mildness and ability to impart unscented formulations with its naturally pleasing aroma.
To make a simple yet enriching Plum Body Butter that sinks beautifully into skin to leave it soft and silky, combine 1/2 cup Of Plum Kernel Oil, 1/4 cup of Sweet Almond Oil, and 1 cup of Cocoa Butter in a heat-resistant container. Using a water bath, heat until the butter and oils have thoroughly melted. Remove from the heat and wait until the mixture has cooled down before adding 10-15 drops of your choice of Essential Oils. Stir and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours to allow the body butter to solidify. Then, using a hand mixture, whip the ingredients together until the butter reaches a fluffy, creamy consistency. Massage onto the body directly after a shower for best results.
For a divinely scented Lip Exfoliating Scrub, mix a tablespoon of Plum Kernel Oil with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and a tablespoon of honey. Gently massage this mixture onto the lips for around 30 seconds to lift away dead skin cells and reveal soft, plump, kissable lips. The same mixture can be used to exfoliate and soften dry cuticles as well.
For a quick dull hair fix, combine a small amount of Plum Kernel Oil with a one-time portion of your hair conditioner and apply onto hair strands immediately. Leave on for 15 minutes before washing off with cool, clean water for instant shiny hair. For a leave-on solution, pour 2 tablespoons Plum Kernel Oil, 1 tablespoon Grapeseed Oil, and 1 tablespoon Jojoba Oil into an amber glass dropper bottle with the help of a funnel. Follow with 5 drops of Lavender Essential Oil and 5 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil and close the bottle tightly before shaking well. Use this Hair Serum especially on the ends and fly-aways to alleviate dryness, tame frizz, and control split-ends.
Due to its lightweight, delicate consistency and anti-aging benefits, Plum Kernel Oil is a perfect ingredient to help tone, firm, and hydrate the skin around and under the eyes. To make your own all-natural Eye Serum, pour 3 tablespoons of Plum Kernel Oil into a glass dropper bottle, followed by 2 drops each of Rosemary Essential Oil, Rose Geranium Essential Oil, and Lavender Essential Oil. Swirl the bottle well to mix all oils. Dispense 1-2 drops of this calming, healing mixture before bedtime on the under-eye and surrounding eye area and pat lightly using your ring finger. In addition to Plum Kernel Oil's luxurious hydration and antioxidative qualities, Rosemary and Rose Geranium oils are known to help fade dark circles due to its anti-inflammatory properties, while Lavender helps calm and gently de-puff eyes that are worn, strained, or tired due to lack of sleep. A skin patch test is always recommended to ensure there are no undesirable reactions to this serum.
A GUIDE TO NDA PLUM KERNEL OIL VARIETIES & THEIR BENEFITS
Plum Kernel Carrier Oil (Unrefined)
Botanical Name: Prunus domestica
- Being rich in Oleic Fatty Acids and Vitamin E
- Hydrating without leaving a greasy finish
- Being mild and light-weight
- Being suitable for dry, sensitive, acne-prone, and mature skin types
- Having strong anti-aging properties
- Being light yellow to yellow in color
- Having a gentle, pleasant, nutty aroma
- Being popular for cosmetic manufacturers, aromatherapists, and massage therapists
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR PLUM KERNEL OIL
As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, carrier oils are for external use only. Plum Kernel Carrier Oil should not be ingested and should not be stored within the reach of children, in case of accidental ingestion. As with all other oils, a patch test should be conducted on the inner arm or another generally insensitive area of skin, using a dime-size amount of Plum Kernel Carrier Oil to check for sensitivities. An absence of an allergic response within 48 hours indicates that the oil is safe to use.
The topical application of Plum Kernel Carrier Oil is not known to have side effects. In the rare chance of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
New to Carrier Oils? Explore our in-depth guide to know everything about these nourishing oils, including the various types, extraction methods, and storage tips.
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