Rambutan at a glance

  • Extract derived from the tropical fruit rambutan (cousin to lychee)
  • The peel portion is particularly rich in skin-beneficial antioxidants
  • Proven to visibly improve signs of aging & sun damage
  • Shows potential for supporting skin’s natural supply of collagen
  • Exhibits soothing properties

Rambutan description

_Nephelium lappaceum_, commonly known as rambutan, is a tropical hairy fruit native to Southeast Asia. In recent years, rambutan has gained attention as a promising skin care ingredient due to its rich content of antioxidants, including ellagic acid and quercetin, which can deliver anti-aging and soothing benefits for skin. Rambutan extracts also show potential for supporting skin’s natural supply of collagen and inhibiting discoloration before it becomes visible. In particular, the peel portion of rambutan is especially rich in antioxidants, with reports showing rambutan peel extract (a.k.a. _Nephelium lappaceum_ peel extract) offers significant protection to help offset the visible signs of photoaging/sun damage. Furthermore, studies suggest incorporating rambutan peel extract into sunscreen formulations can help enhance the SPF. Some skin care brands tout rambutan as a natural alternative to retinol. While both ingredients offer anti-aging benefits, they work through different mechanisms. Retinol binds to specific receptors in skin cells, while rambutan does not. This difference in action means that retinol can produce more dramatic results than rambutan. Think of rambutan as a complementary partner to retinol/retinoids rather than a direct replacement. The safety of _Nephelium lappaceum_ (rambutan) extract has not yet been officially assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. However, a 2017 study published in the _Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences_ found that Nephelium lappaceum peel extract was safe when tested on human skin fibroblasts. Worth noting, rambutan extracts have great potential for sustainable usage within the cosmetics industry. When rambutan is processed for food products, such as jams, juices, and canned fruit, large quantities of peel and seed by-products are generated. These by-products can be “upcycled” and used to produce rambutan extract for skin care and other personal care products.

Rambutan references

  • Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, April 2023, pages 535-546
  • Heliyon, November 2022, pages 1-16
  • Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, April 2020, ePublication
  • Trends in Food Science & Technology, March 2019, Pages 201-210
  • Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, April 2017, pages 577-589

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.