Leveling Up: Passion Fruit Drives Color Cosmetics Into New Dimensions


Passion fruit is well-known as exhibiting an attractive, exotic flower and characteristic flavor. Its fresh or processed fruit is highly sought for health benefits and used in functional beverages and health drinks. The soft, edible pulp of this fruit contains tiny seeds that comprise up to 25% of its fresh weight. These seeds, along with the peels, are dumped as waste during juice extraction; they account for more than 75% of the discarded waste. Therefore, in parallel with increasing demand for the fruit, the waste portion and residues from industrial processing of the fruit are also increasing.

In relation, the demand for sustainable, eco-friendly and natural products including cosmetics is widespread; although transforming agri-food industry by-products into specialty ingredients for cosmetics poses challenges. However, the two industries could be more beneficially integrated; indeed, the antioxidant polyphenols of passion fruit seed extract13 have been reported to exhibit UV filtering capabilities.4, 5

As such, the feasibility of by-products from passion fruit processing for cosmetic applications motivated the present work. Color cosmetics are generally a statement of youth and give users the pleasure of manipulating their appearance to project a positive perception of themselves. Furthermore, makeup incorporating multiple benefits, such as sun protection, is preferred by consumers. This article, therefore, explores the development of color cosmetics containing a prepared and standardized passion fruit seed extract for added antioxidant, skin whitening and sun protection effects.

Formulas including a liquid foundation and concealer mousse were developed and tested for quality in terms of efficacy, safety and stability, as described. While in today’s formulas, organic or physical sunscreens such as TiO2 are often used—which has a dual pigment function, although it ineffectively matches Asian skin tones—passion fruit seed extract offers a natural multifunctional ingredient option, for which demand continues to grow and research is exhaustively conducted.6

Extract Preparation and Standardization

Passion fruit seeds from a juice processing factory were extracted1 and assessed for antioxidant activity by means of the 2,2'-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) assay; α, α-diphenyl-β-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) method; and ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) assay—as well as inhibitory effects against the melanogenesis enzyme tyrosinase. The extracts were quality controlled by total phenolic content (TPC) using the Folin-Ciocalteu assay.

The polyphenols were characterized by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and the extracts were successfully separated by eluting with a solvent system consisting of acetonitrile (AcCN) (A) and 3% aq. acetic acid (AcOH) (B) with the following gradient: 0–3 min 100% B; 3–5 min 85% B; 5–10 min 80% B; 10–15 min 75% B; 15–20 min 70% B; and 20-30 min 50% B at a flow rate of 1 mL/min.

Fingerprints of the extracts were thereafter obtained and the phenolic constituents were analyzed in a comparison with standards. Sun protection efficacy in terms of in vitro SPF analysis also was evaluateda and compared with benzophenone (BP3) and octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC).2

Test Formulas and Skin Compatibility

Base liquid foundation and concealer mousse formulas (see Formula 1) without the extract were then developed and evaluated for stability by centrifugation (3,500 rpm, 30 min) and by seven heat-cool cycles (4°C ± 2°C for 24 hr; and 45°C ± 2°C for 24 hr, each cycle). The passion fruit seed extract was then incorporated at 0.1% and 0.3%,1 and the formulas were tested for various effects. Those with appropriated SPFs were finally re-assessed for stability, upon which the pH and sun protection abilities, i.e., SPF, Boots star rating and critical wavelength, were recorded.1, 3

Primary skin irritation test: Skin compatibility with the developed sun protectant products was assessed in 20 Thai female volunteers, all of whom indicated wearing makeup daily. The single-application closed patch test was approved by the ethical committee of Mae Fah Luang University prior to enrollment. The sample (20 µL) was patched on the volar forearms of the volunteers for 24 hr using Finn chambers (8 mm). Severity of skin irritation was graded from 0-4 and calculated into MII (Means Irritation Index) at which < 0.2 was interpreted as non-irritation. The assessment was undertaken in a comparison with water (negative control) and 0.1% sodium lauryl sulfate (positive control) in parallel.1, 3

Statistical analysis: All data is presented as the mean ± SD. The parameters were compared and analyzed using one sample t-test and ANOVA testing with a significance level of p < 0.05.

Passion fruit seed extract offers a natural mutifuntional ingredient option, for which demand continues to grow.

Results and Discussion

The passion fruit seed extract was prepared by a concise and feasible method from an industrial practice. Notably, ethyl acetate fraction selected from the crude extract was shown as the best candidate active.1 The obtained extract had a yield of 1%, which was further quality controlled in terms of ABTS, DPPH and FRAP assays, as shown in Figure 1.

Antioxidant effects: The extract’s antioxidative effects were proven by ABTS and DPPH, with an inhibitory concentration at 50% (IC50) of 6.6 µg/mL and 4.4 µg/mL. This anti-free radical capability was equivalent to that of 1 mM FeSO4 at 2,018.9, whereas those of ascorbic acid were 3.4, 2.7 and 6,214, respectively. Considering these activities were prepared from a crude source, the extract shows promise for application in eco-friendly cosmetics; although the activity of the passion fruit seed extract against free radicals was almost two times less potent than standard ascorbic acid. However, these levels are feasible to control during the manufacturing practice.

Skin hyperpigmentation: In addition, the potency of passion fruit seed extract to treat skin hyperpigmentation was examined in vitro by comparing its anti-tyrosinase activity with that of the standard, kojic acid. The extract showed skin-lightening capabilities, as evidenced by inhibitory effects against mushroom tyrosinase of 39.932% ± 0.078%, although it was less potent than kojic acid (77.665 ± 0.507%).

Quality control: The extract was thereafter quantified on its active principles in terms of total phenolic content and shown to contain 58.280 ± 1.146 g GAE/100 g extract. After HPLC analysis, quercetin was identified as the major polyphenol, followed by rosmarinic, chlorgenic and gallic acids; 0.301 ± 0.011 µg/g extract, 0.191 ± 0.015 µg/mg extract, 0.088 ± 0.003 µg/g extract and 0.070 ± 0.006 µg/mg extract, respectively.2

Irritation potential: The extract’s safety was assessed in vero cells and showed negative results for cytotoxicity at the highest concentration of 50 µg/mL.2

Sun protection: As noted, the antioxidant polyphenols in passion fruit seed extract have been identified as promising candidates as UV absorbers for cosmetics.4, 5 Accordingly, the sun protection potential of the extract was examined in vitro by SPF analysis in a comparison with BP3 and OMC, each at 1% in propylene glycol. Indeed, the extract produced an SPF, albeit less than that of BP3 and OMC, but its efficacy was superior to Tanaka, a traditional sunscreen used in Myanmar (see Figure 2).7, 8

Test formulas: Once the test extract was characterized, base formulas were developed and challenged for stability. Those that passed the centrifugation test were moved on to heat-cool cycle testing. Consequently, two makeup products—a liquid foundation and concealer mousse, two commonly used product formats—were developed incorporating the passion fruit seed extract at 0.1% and 0.3%.

The final concealer mousse was significantly (p < 0.005) superior in SPF to the liquid foundation (see Figure 2), with an SPF greater than 15—the recommended level of protection for everyday application, e.g., via color cosmetics. It is noteworthy that the increase in passion fruit seed extract from 0.1% to 0.3% did not demonstrate a significant effect on SPF.

These resulting passion fruit concealer mousse formulas, with a Boots star rating of 4 and critical wavelength higher than 370 nm, highlight the broad sun protection capabilities these formulas have against UVB and UVA.3 Furthermore, the formulas containing passion fruit seed extract gave better results than those containing other natural sun protection extracts; e.g., 10% everlasting flower, hawthorn and elderberry extracts; 10% green coffee oil;9, 10 or the aforementioned Tanaka products.6, 7

Final formula stability: Finally, the passion fruit concealer mousses exhibiting SPF protection were assessed for stability similarly to before, i.e., via centrifugation followed by a heat-cool cycle. The compatibility of the passion fruit seed extract with other cosmetic ingredients was confirmed and the passion fruit concealer mousses were stable in terms of physical and chemical properties, i.e., texture, appearance, pH and sun protection capacity.

Passion fruit concealer mousse provided a Boots star rating of 4 and a critical wavelength higher than 370 nm.

After the heat-cool cycle (HC), the appearance and texture of the products conformed to their initial (INT) state, although their pH was slightly acidified but within in an acceptable range for cosmetics (see Figure 3). Furthermore, the SPF, Boots star rating and critical wavelength were maintained, confirming the stability of the passion fruit concealer mousses.

Irritation tests: Lastly, for economic reasons, and since the 0.1% and 0.3% formulas demonstrated equal sun protection-capabilities, preliminary safety assessments were undertaken on the 0.1% passion fruit mousse. It was found to be compatible with skin, since none of the volunteers showed any positive reactions; MII ratings = 0, similar to water. Its safety was therefore in harmony with the in vitro cell culture assessment, confirming the product’s safety for daily application as a sun protection makeup product (data not shown).2, 3


Passion fruit seed is underlined here as an ecological source for safe and efficient cosmetic actives that can combat the adverse effects of UV radiation in skin. The recovery of this specialty cosmetic ingredient could become a fruitful integration between agri-business and the cosmetics industry. The described operational protocol for preparing the extract and controlling and standardizing its quality is feasible for the industrial practice, as per the formulation.

The application of passion fruit seed extract as a prototype photo-protectant makeup product could flow to mainstream decorative cosmetic consumers and especially fit consumers’ passion and preference for active cosmetics derived from sustainable or renewal sources.


  1. Thailand Patent No. 11910, M Kanlayavattanakul and N Lourith, Preparation of passion fruit seed extract, (Sep 1, 2016)
  2. N Lourith and M Kanlayavattanakul, Antioxidant activities and phenolics of Passiflora edulis seed recovered from juice production residue, J Oleo Sci (62) 235-240 (2013)
  3. N Lourith, M Kanlayavattanakul and J Chingunpitak, Development of sunscreen products containing passion fruit seed extract, Braz J Pharm Sci (53) e16116 (2017)
  4. R Stevanato, M Bertelle and S Fabris, Photoprotective characteristics of natural antioxidant polyphenols, Regul Toxicol Pharmacol (69) 71-77 (2014)
  5. OV Zillich, U Schweiggert-Weisz, P Eisner and M Kerscher, Polyphenols as active ingredients for cosmetic products, Intl J Cosmet Sci (37) 455–464 (2015)
  6. N Lourith and M Kanlayavattanakul, Removal methods and evaluation of removal of makeup products, in eds AO Barel, M Paye and HI Maibach, Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology, 4th edn, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl (2014) pp 453-457
  7. M Kanlayavattanakul and N Lourith, Thanaka loose powder and liquid foundation preparations, HPC Today (7) 30-32 (2012)
  8. M Kanlayavattanakul and N Lourith, Sunscreen liquid foundation containing Naringi crenulata powder, Adv Mat Res (506) 583-586 (2012)
  9. A Jarzycka, A Lewin´ska, R Gancarz and KA Wilk, Assessment of extracts of Helichrysum arenarium, Crataegus monogyna, Sambac nigra in photoprotective UVA and UVB; Photostability in cosmetic emulsions, J Photochem Photobiol B Biol (128) 50-57 (2013)
  10. BG Chiari et al, Synergistic effect of green coffee oil and synthetic sunscreen for health care application, Ind Crop Prod 52 389-393 (2014)
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