Kigelia Africana for Skin: Benefits and How to Use

A hand holding a kigelia africana plant.


Whether you’re doing everything in your power to fight the effects of maskne, you’ve struggled with sensitive, acne-prone skin your entire life, or you’re beginning to notice more premature signs of aging, you may want to consider adding a lesser-known ingredient that’s starting to rise. Allow us to introduce you to Kigelia Africana. The native African ingredient is best known for its calming, anti-aging effects, making it a must for various skin types. But, of course, since it’s just beginning its ascent into modern-day skincare, there’s still so much to learn about the ingredient.

Meet the Expert

  • Dendy Engelman is an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist
  • Jené Roestorf is the founder and chief of botanicals of LUXE Botanics (a brand known for its Kigelia Africana offerings).

With that in mind, we chatted with NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman and LUXE Botanics (a brand known for its Kigelia Africana offerings) founder and chief of botanicals, Jené Roestorf. With their expertise, ahead you’ll discover everything there is to know about the soon-to-be-buzzy skincare ingredient. 

Kigelia Africana

Type of ingredient: Antioxidant

Main benefits: Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, tightens skin, evens skin tone, and calms the complexion overall.

Who should use it: Since Kigelia Africana has calming properties, Engelman says that it’s an especially great ingredient for sensitive skin types, as it “delivers anti-aging and clear-skin benefits without the irritating side effects caused by some other ingredients that are used to target the same skin concerns.” 

How often can you use it: Roestorf recommends using Kigelia Africana twice daily—"In the morning to provide a protective barrier for skin, at night to repair and rebalance,” she says, noting that a serum infused with the ingredient is your best bet to seal the beneficial ingredient in without letting moisture seep out.  

Works well with: Many different ingredients. Roestorf says that pairing it with vitamin C, bilberry, sugar cane, and citrus extracts works well to fight off free radicals, while combining it with niacinamide and cucumber extract can lend to its soothing and restorative properties. 

Don’t use with: According to Roestorf, there are currently no known ingredients that can not be formulated with Kigelia Africana.

What Is Kigelia Africana?

Kigelia Africana, while not extensively researched, is best known for its healing properties. “Kigelia Africana contains a vast array of bioactive compounds which contribute to its broad-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal activity, which is similar to penicillin and fluoroquinolone antibiotics,” explains Roestorf.

The ingredient itself comes from the sausage tree, a tall tree with sausage-shaped fruit that’s native to tropical regions of Africa. Malawians have been using the fruit for centuries to make anti-cancer medicines, but nowadays, brands are using it to heal the skin and promote a healthier-looking complexion. 

“In skincare, it is used to clarify, brighten and firm skin and reduce signs of aging like hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles,” Engelman says, noting that it addresses all of these skincare concerns in the gentlest, most calming way.

Benefits of Kigelia Africana for Skin

  • Heals skin conditions: “Revered by Malawians as medicine as well as a sacred symbol of protection, Kigelia Africana has been traditionally used by African healers to treat skin-related conditions, such as fungal infections, acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn, and insect bites,” Roestorf says.
  • Fights free radical damage: Loaded with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial properties, Kigelia Africana is an ingredient that’s nothing short of a godsend for folks with sensitive skin. Its rich antioxidant content helps fight skin-damaging free radicals that can cause pigmentation and wrinkles.
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles: It helps ward off signs of aging, including the development of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and laxity, and actually triggers cell regeneration, leading to a renewed complexion with continued use.
  • It helps to prevent acne and other inflammatory skin conditions: “Kigelia African can be used to treat and prevent acne (with iridoids), but unlike many traditional blemish-fighting ingredients, it also soothes skin (phytosterols) to prevent inflammation and irritation,” Engelman explains.

Side Effects of Kigelia Africana

Kigelia Africana isn’t currently associated with any negative side effects when used topically as a calming ingredient at its core. That said, it’s important to remember that the ingredient hasn’t been heavily studied, so your best bet is always to do a patch test before slathering the ingredient all over your face. 

How to Use It

While Kigelia Africana is found in various skincare products, Engelman recommends opting for a serum (which will be the most potent form of the ingredient) or a high-quality cream. “Both of these formulas are meant to sink into the skin and be left on for long periods of time, to allow the skin to reap the benefits of this ingredient,” she explains.

Of course, you can use Kigelia-infused products beyond those two types. Perhaps you’d like to calm your skin with an essence in the morning initially and then reach for a Kigelia-infused makeup product (because, yes, those exist) post-moisturizer. The point is, you have options.

In terms of when to use it, Roestorf recommends applying Kigelia Africana morning and night to support a calm, clear, radiant complexion day in and day out. 

The Best Products With Kigelia Africana

LUXE Botanics Kigelia Corrective Serum
LUXE Botanics Kigelia Corrective Serum $115.00

Best for combination, oily, and sensitive skin types, this corrective serum is designed to calm stressed skin while triggering it to generate new, healthy cells. Doing so helps the skin balance itself, which can prove particularly beneficial for all three skin types. 

Fresh Kombucha Antioxidant Facial Treatment Essence
Fresh Kombucha Antioxidant Facial Treatment Essence $72.00

Leave it to Fresh to be ahead of the curve. Their cult-favorite Treatment Essence is formulated with calming Kigelia Africana, free radical-fighting fermented black tea, plumping and hydrating hyaluronic acid, and evening mandarin peel extract together works to soothe, smooth, and improves the overall appearance of the skin. 

Aurelia Firm & Replenish Body Serum
Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Firm and Replenish Body Serum $54.00

Your face isn’t the only body area that can benefit from Kigelia Africana—your body can, too! With that in mind, this firming and replenishing body serum works to calm the head-to-toe complexion while drenching it in soothing essential oils that work to not only deliver a delicious scent but a smooth texture, too. 

African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence
African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence $160.00

When you think of an essence, you likely think of a liquid. This essence, however, is a hydrating gel. Formulated with rose, Kigelia Africana, and a series of peptides and emollients, the essence helps to calm and deeply hydrate the skin one pump at a time. 

Lancer Skincare The Method: Body Nourish
Lancer Skincare The Method: Body Nourish with Hylaplex® and Glycolic Acid 10% $75.00

Made with gently exfoliating glycolic acid, deeply-hydrating Hylaplex, moisture-locking marula oil, and calming Kigelia Africana, this rich body cream works to slough away dead skin cells while replacing them with optimal moisture to make skin look as healthy and radiant as possible. 

LUXE Botanics Kigelia Corrective Moisturizer
LUXE Botanics Kigelia Corrective Moisturiser $95.00

Again, this gel moisturizer is geared toward those with oily, combination, and/or sensitive skin types. It’s designed to impart moisture while supporting cell regeneration, which helps lock in hydration and usher in a healthier-looking complexion. 

Erborian Skin Hero
Erborian Skin Hero Bare Skin Perfector $39.00

Think of this as the ultimate no-makeup, makeup. Rather than imparting color, this Kigelia Africana-infused skincare-makeup hybrid works to smooth and calm skin while delivering a natural-looking radiance. While it makes a noticeable difference immediately upon contact, it works overtime to heal the skin so that within seven days of use, your complexion will look equally as healthy even when the product isn’t on. 

  • Is Kigelia Africana suitable for sensitive skin?

    Kigelia Africana's soothing and calming properties make it a great ingredient for people with sensitive skin. It also helps prevent inflammation and irritation and can be helpful to use after active ingredients like AHAs and BHAs.

  • Can I use Kigelia Africana to treat acne?

    In a 2002 South African study, Kigelia Africana was found to have significant antibacterial properties, which means that can fight acne causing bacteria. It doesn't hurt to add it to your routine, but more studies can be done to further prove its acne fighting properties.

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