Plum Kernel Oil: An Antioxidant Boost for Rejuvenated, Plump Skin

Jun 23, 2022by Heather Smith
Plum Oil for Skin - infographic by bareLUXE

There are many trendy skincare oils, but plum oil should have staying power. As we continue our article series on each individual face oil, we turn our spotlight on the benefits of plum oil for skincare. 

Plum oil, also called plum kernel oil, is extracted from the pit of the Prunus domestica fruit. It is a rich, nourishing oil that moisturizes and is very high in beneficial phytochemicals. This makes it an excellent choice and one of the best oils for dry skin

Read on to learn everything you need to know about using plum oil as a part of your skincare routine.

The Plum Fruit and Plant

The plum has a dusty and waxy exocarp and sweet and juicy flesh. It is known as a stone fruit because of the large, stone-like pit found at the center. Beautiful flowers bloom and decorate the trees in spring. They are hardy trees that can survive in harsh climates, and they originated in China thousands of years ago.

There are many plum cultivars and several ways to use them. You can eat fresh plums or consume them in the form of jam. You can also use the juice from the fruit to make juice or wine. People also enjoy dried plums (prunes) as a healthy snack with digestive benefits. 

History of Plum Oil

Plums have been popular throughout history because of their delicious and nourishing fruit. Considered a superfruit, plums are high in fibre, rich in B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as potassium and magnesium. Proof of their existence in Asia dates back 2000 years.

People Indigenous to Australia use a varietal of plum called Kakadu (Terminalia ferdinandiana). It's an important source of nutrition. In traditional healing, the interior of the tree's bark treats various ailments. Other parts of the Kakadu plum are also used as antiseptic or soothing balms to treat colds, flu, and headaches.  

At first, plums used for food just had their pits discarded. However, producers eventually realized the value of the pits, and that's how they discovered the many benefits of the oil. France was the first to give mass-market appeal to the use of plum kernel oil in culinary practices. Its use moved into the skincare and beauty world shortly after that.

What is Kakadu Plum

The Australian Kakadu plum is yellow-green instead of the purple-brown of the regular plum. Kakadu plums are also much smaller at around 2 centimetres, while regular plums are between 3 and 7 centimetres. 

photo of kakadu plums being held in the hands of a person with brown skin

Both the regular plum and Kakadu plum are rich in nutrients. However, the Kakadu plum has a higher concentration of vitamin C, among the highest among any fruit. While 100 grams of oranges provides 92% of your daily vitamin C needs, Kakadu plums provide over 3,000%.

Plum oils are all rich in fatty acids, but Kakadu oil has linoleic acid levels higher than argan oil - and that's a big deal! This makes kakadu plum oil for skin a highly sought after choice.

How Is Plum Oil Extracted?

Although the terms are used interchangeably, plum oil is technically plum kernel oil as the fruit flesh is rarely included in the extraction process.

Upon harvest, workers separate the plum pits from the flesh. They then dry these pits, remove the kernels (seeds), and crush them. They then press the powdered seeds to extract the natural oils - - Viola! Cold pressed plum seed oil.

Since Kakadu plums are small, cold pressing for Kakadu oil can be labour-intensive with a small yield. This is why Kakadu oil is more expensive, and other extraction methods are sometimes used. 


Essential Fatty Acids, known as healthy fats, help achieve healthy skin. That's why plum oil and Kakadu oil have become skincare essentials. The fatty acid profile is highest in oleic acid but there are also higher than average levels of linoleic acid. Plum kernel oil has a high concentration of Vitamin E and fatty acids—60% to 80% oleic acid (omega-9), 15% to 25% linoleic acid (omega-6), 5% to 10% palmitic acid, 1% to 4% stearic acid, and 1% to 2% palmitoleic acid (omega-7). 

plums with plum kernel oil

Both oils fight free radicals. They also contain ellagic acid, which is valued for its anti-aging effects. Plum face oil, whether regular or kakadu, will produce many visible skin benefits.

Plum Kernel Oil Skin Benefits

The fatty acids prominent in plum oil are also great for skin care.

Omega-3 and omega-6 help your cell membranes stay healthy. These fatty acids encourage the production of natural oil barriers in the skin while also hydrating the skin by locking water in. For these reasons, plum oil is often included in products designed for dry or irritable skin.

These factors combined mean that you should expect good things for your face if you use plum beauty oil:

    • intensely moisturizing results in plump and glowing skin
    • anti-inflammatory effects soothe the skin
    • antioxidant protection from free radicals and environmental stress
    • supports skin barrier repair and strengthening
    • brightening and evens out the tone
    • supports collagen production and improved elasticity


How to Use Plum Face Oil

You may apply plum kernel oil directly to the skin.

Make sure your face is clean when you apply the oil to it. Take a small amount of oil (1-3 drops) onto your palms, and massage your face. You can apply makeup over it, too. If putting oil directly on your skin worries you, mix a couple of drops into your daily face cream application. You can use face oils twice a day.

Don't forget plum oil for your hair! Apply the oil after you have shampooed and conditioned the hair while it's still damp. Just a small amount to comb through will provide scalp moisture as well as healthy shine.

Is Plum Kernel Oil Comedogenic? Will it Clog Pores?

It is unlikely that the plum kernel oil will cause acne because the fatty acids in plum oil can diminish acne-related inflammation and help regulate your natural sebum production. In addition, ellagic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Oleic acid is particularly well-suited for dry skin and mature skin types. There is a misconception that oleic acid makes oils feel greasy. While some high-oleic oils are greasy and clog pores, it's more than just the oleic acid responsible. There are many other factors involved.

Plum oil comedogenic rating is about 2 which means that most people should not experience clogged pores. However, if you have very oily or acne prone skin, we suggest starting with other oils like Abyssinian.

Is Plum Kernel Oil Safe?

Oils are generally safe to use on your skin, including during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Because they don't need things like emulsifiers, preservatives, or texture modifiers, face oils are especially natural

One notable exception is specific allergies since many oils are made from nuts.

Stone fruit allergies include the plum, cherries, nectarines, and peaches. Additionally, there may be cross reactivity with other foods, so if you have known allergies, please consult your physician and do an appropriate patch or prick testing.

Is Plum Oil Production Sustainable?

Plum and Kakadu plum oil production is sustainable, but needs to remain protected. They have been grown as a source of food for generations. While people saved some pits for reproduction, they considered most of them a waste until they discovered the oil component of the plums. Now, people use all parts of the plum in culinary and cosmetic fields, promoting zero waste. 

In 2010, cosmetics giant Mary Kay attempted to patent the ancient fruit for their exclusive use. Unfortunately, this would have meant the Aboriginal communities of the Australian Northern Territory would have to pay to harvest a food that was part of their culture. Not cool! Eventually Mary Kay gave up the fight, and the Australian government put restrictions so that only Aboriginal groups could commercialize it. This has left it well protected from overexploitation.



  1. Bailly C. Anticancer Properties of Prunus Mume Extracts (Chinese Plum, Japanese Apricot). J Ethnopharmacol. 2020;246:112215. 
  2. Igwe EO, Charlton KE. A Systematic Review on the Health Effects of Plums (Prunus Domestica and Prunus Salicina). Phytother Res. 2016;30(5):701-731. 
  3. "Kakadu Plum Management Program". Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (Northern Territory). 18 April 2019. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  4. Moore EM, Wagner C, Komarnytsky S. The Enigma of Bioactivity and Toxicity of Botanical Oils for Skin Care. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:785. 
  5. Telang PS. Vitamin C in Dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143-146. 

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About the Author

Dr. Heather Smith developed her love for skinimalism and clean beauty years ago when she began making home remedies for her newborn's eczema. She is an expert in natural ingredients and active botanicals and has now launched bareLUXE Skincare - a full line of effective oil serums. She dedicates this blog to consumers who are researching ingredients and working to make their beauty ritual more natural and sustainable.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Smith nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content should consult their physicians about their skincare concerns and routines.