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Vermaak, I., Kamatou, G.P.P., Komane-Mofokeng, B.M., Viljoen, A., Beckett, K. 2011. African seed oils of commercial importance – cosmetic applications. South African Journal of Botany 77: 920-933.
Seed oils have been used for centuries by rural communities as food, medicine, for cosmetic applications and as fuel. Recently there has been a renewed interest in these non-timber forest products (NTFPs) specifically for use in cosmetic formulations. The cosmetic industry remains under immense consumer pressure to produce innovative products for this lucrative industry. Like the pharmaceutical industry, the wellness industry turns to nature for guidance, inspiration and as a source of novel compounds to produce new consumer products. Furthermore, discerning consumers of cosmetic products are nowadays informing themselves of the validity of scientific claims made on various products. The seed oils extracted from several plant species are popularly included as ingredients in cosmetic products due to their high fatty acid composition. The information on African seed oils is scattered in literature and often published in obscure and dated manuscripts. With an emphasis on (but not restricted to) cosmetic applications the botanical aspects, uses, physico-chemical properties and oil composition as well as biological activity of six commercially important species are coherently united and reviewed in this paper and include; Adansonia digitata (baobab), Citrullus lanatus (Kalahari melon), Schinziophyton rautanenii (manketti/mungongo), Sclerocarya birrea (marula), Trichilia emetica (mafura butter) and Ximenia americana (sour plum).
[Photo: Phytotrade Africa]