Newest kid on the superfood block, finger limes are also known as lime caviar, thanks to their distinctive pearl-like seeds.
Native to the lowland subtropical rainforest rainforests of SE Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Citrus australasica has long been an important food source, but has only recently been adopted as a potential cash crop in the culinary bushtucker boom.
What is less well known is its potential as a skincare wonderkid.
Finger limes look like tiny cucumbers filled with bright pearls of liquid, hence their caviar moniker. Aromatic, they have a fresh minty citrus scent and a tart astringency, with a hint of basil thrown in for devastating effect.
Rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and potassium, they are also bursting with antioxidants, bioactives and alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) exfoliators, which gently remove dead skin cells from the surface of your body. By erasing dull skin tone, AHAs naturally reveal the brighter, clearer skin beneath, and can revitalise ageing skin.
AHAs are chemical compounds that occur naturally in the plant, and they have been scientifically proved to interrupt keratinization on the surface of the skin – keratinization is essentially a surface barrier that inhibits natural hydration and encourages oily build-up, acne, wrinkles and uneven skin tone as dead skin cells ‘cling on’ for longer. So, interrupting this process is vital in skin rejuvenation and renewal.
It also makes exfoliation easier and gentler on the skin. Polished skin looks radiant and tends to have a more even tone, but importantly, properly exfoliated skin encourages the production of collagen, which slows the signs of ageing by plumping the skin and improving its health. And it makes skin more receptive to taking up moisture – win win, right?
Alongside AHAs, finger limes are rich in vitamin C, which attacks the free radicals that damage skin cells, and encourages the production of the collagen protein, which keeps your skin elastic. They also contain malic acid, lactic acid and glycolic acid, all of which rejuvenate ageing skin, help to heal acne, sun damage, ichthyosis, psoriasis, rosacea and uneven skin pigmentation.
For thousands of years finger limes were foraged for their tangy pulp and used as an effective bush medicine, and it’s easy to see why. The high levels of vitamin E they contain provides powerful antioxidants that encourage human cell production and disease prevention. Vitamin C levels are high enough to offer increased immunity to infection, and the vitamin A, zeaxanthines, and luteins found in finger limes are a defence against eye diseases and loss of vision. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure as it encourages blood vessels to become wider, and iron levels can help lower the risk of anaemia.
Finally, as if we needed more evidence, the levels of vitamins B and C found in lime caviar are seen as key to boosting the metabolism and stabilising emotions, and they have antiseptic properties when applied topically.
That is how hardworking this skincare hero is!
Maroon, scarlet, purple, lime, white, yellow – no blog about lime caviar would be complete without a mention of the varietals this beauty has.
From Rainforest Pearl, with its crimson skin and delicate pink pearls, to Durham’s Emerald, Judy’s Everbearing, Purple Viola and Alstonville – glorious black fruit with pale green flesh – the astonishing range of finger limes is almost as impressive as its health benefits. And that is saying something.