What is safou oil?

What is safou oil? What is safou oil?

Extracted from the pulp of the safou fruit, known more widely as the African pear, Atanga (in Gabon), Ube (in Nigeria) or the butter fruit, safou oil is a unique natural vegetable oil. The fleshy and luscious buttery pulp is richly packed with minerals, vitamins and oils.

About the safou fruit

The safou fruit, botanically classified as Dacryodes Edulis, is native to the tropical forests of Central and Western Africa. In appearance it resembles a plum given its bold violet shiny, thin outer skin. When cut in half, the flesh of the fruit is light green with a stony seed centre. They are nutritionally dense fruits that grow on large evergreen trees, which have a short trunk with a deep crown. 

safou fruit


A multifunctional plant that is deeply embedded in Central and Western African heritage and culture, valued for its medicinal, nutritional, economic, and social uses. Safou plays essential roles as a staple food, its wood is often used to make tool handles, the leaves and the roots are used in the preparation of various traditional medicines, the resin produced from the bark is used to create sticking agents. The bark of the tree is also used in perfumes, which forms the inspiration behind our signature fragrance, and the oil has uses in cooking and topical treatments. 

High in polyunsaturated fat, a healthy fat, the safou can help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing bad cholesterol, as well as improving the quality of breast milk. When used for cooking, it has a buttery consistency, but due to the amino acids, the fat does not build up in the body. Instead, it helps the body to perform essential functions such as tissue repair, transporting nutrients around the body, and assisting with digestion. In fact, it is an excellent source of protein, its energy-dense and fibrous nature makes it a particularly sustaining fruit.

Properties of safou oil

The extracted oil itself boasts a multitude of benefits when consumed and applied topically. What makes the safou so special is its high oil content, making it a rich source of fatty and amino acids. It is a great source of antioxidants, containing a whole lot of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium.  

The components of safou have deeply hydrating properties when used as a skin and hair treatment. When applied to the hair, safou nourishes, improves shine, prevents the appearance of dandruff, and protects each strand. 

Safou oil ethically slows down the ageing process of the skin and makes it smoother by naturally improving its texture and elasticity  

Safou also inspires our signature fragrance to add to the sensorial experience of KOBA skincare. When burnt, the bark of the safou tree has a lovely woody scent with underlying citrus notes. We have recreated and elevated this aroma in Grasse to use as the natural fragrance of our products.

The special elements of safou oil:

  • Fatty acids help stimulate the skin’s natural oil barrier, which is essential in keeping your skin plumper, hydrated, and looking younger. 
  • Amino acids work hard to help soothe and hydrate pushing moisture into the skin, it also reduces fine lines and has a plumping effect.
  • Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe and calm the skin while assisting in cell restoration and strengthening the skin barrier function. 
  • Vitamin C protects the skin from sun damage, promotes collagen production, has a hydrating effect and is key to maintaining smooth, even tone and glowy complexion.  
  • Vitamin B6 supports skin health through cell renewal, combats dryness, premature ageing, and breakouts.
  • Triglycerides from a protective layer on the skin to lock in moisture. It also has a compound that acts as an emulsifier and binding agent for other ingredients. Triglycerides work to neutralise toxins and preserve the appearance of youthful skin.

The Extraction Process

Our safou oil is sourced from Cameroon in Western Africa. Our promise is a sustainable production chain. We work with skilled local farmers who handpick our safou and use traditional and artisanal methods to extract the oil manually from the pulp of the fruit. The fruit is plucked and cut in half, the stone removed and left to dry naturally at a low temperature for a few days to preserve the nutrients and richness of the fruit. Using traditional and artisanal methods our farmers gently extract the oil by pressing it, taking only what we need and without the use of any machinery. The oil can then be used directly in cosmetics. We use safou in our hand cream, foot cream, body lotion, lip balm, body and hair oil, our body balm and our soap bar

Why safou oil is our hero ingredient

We are the first brand to incorporate safou oil into cosmetic products in Europe. KOBA skincare was born out of personal skincare concerns, so it is fitting that our core ingredient honours our founder’s personal heritage. Thérèse, founder and CEO of KOBA, struggled to find skincare products that were simple, targeted, all-inclusive, and would combat and soothe her dry skin, while providing a sensorial and luxurious experience. Her mother’s knowledge as a chemist coupled with her family’s rich Congolese heritage led her to develop her own skincare products infused with an ingredient that had long been a staple in her household. 


 The properties of safou oil make it particularly beneficial for dry skin. Moreover, it is a powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, just a few drops rubbed into skin protects the skin from free radicals and external aggressors, prevents irritation and dryness, restores moisture and suppleness, and improves the elasticity of the skin. The antibacterial agent of the oil helps to stabilise emulsion when added into creams.

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