Food for the Skin
By Kim Putens
As we approach the holidays, food becomes more than a necessity to nourish our bodies. It is a reason to bring families together, a reminder of fond memories, and the focus of many traditions. We don’t typically think of food as an important ingredient in our skin care products. In fact, many items from our holiday table are showing up in many skin care products. In the spirit of the holidays, one ingredient worthy of special attention is pumpkin. This enzyme is an alternative to alpha hydroxy acids as an exfoliant/peel ingredient for the skin. A fruit acid, pumpkin has many properties – as an exfoliation accelerator, a powerful anti-oxidant and a mild retonic acid substitute. As an exfoliant pumpkin gently breaks down the outer layers of the skin, leaving it looking fresher and feeling softer by sloughing off dead skin. As a powerful antioxidant, it combats oxidative and free radical damage. The beta carotene properties of pumpkin work to naturally repair skin damage. What also makes pumpkin so desirable in skin care products is that it does not contain fragrance chemicals that are often irritating to the skin.
Since food ingredients are proliferating skin care products, let’s explore some of the other common ingredients penetrating our products, their usages and beneficial properties.
Basil – contains anti-inflammatory properties and protects the vascular system. In doing so, it calms inflammation and diminishes dark circles.
Blueberries – another darling of the antioxidant world, blueberries also have an important vaso-constricting impact. They help diminish redness and, because of its gentle qualities, it is safe for the rosacea-prone to use.
Chamomile – found in many forms, the principal components of the essential oil extracted from the flowers has moderate antioxidant and antimicrobial activities.
Cranberries – provides exfoliating properties, acts as an antioxidant to combat free radical damage, and works to combat inflammation.
Cucumber – softens, hydrates and protects the skin. It is also very gentle and often used in products for sensitive types.
Ginger – as an anti-inflammatory, ginger calms inflammation on the skin.
Grapefruit – a fruit acid known for it exfoliant and astringent properties. It also absorbs excess oil on the skin.
Grapeseed – has powerful antioxidant properties known to help diminish the sun’s damaging effects and lessen free radical damage. It has also been shown to have wound-healing properties.
Green Tea – contains polyphenols which are the active ingredients and possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. Green tea polyphenols prevent ultraviolet -induced immune suppression and skin cancer induction. Early studies have found the ingredients in the tea can reduce sun damage and may protect skin from skin cancer when applied topically. Using green tea extract under sunscreen may yield a double dose of protection. Like antioxidants, polyphenols have also been shown to reduce free radical production. An anti-inflammatory, polyphenols in creams and lotions may also slow signs of aging and reduce sagging skin and wrinkles.
Lychee – with antioxidant properties, lychee works to neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to the skin.
Papaya – an exfoliant that gently eats away dead skin cells.
Peppermint – in the oil or extract form, peppermint has antimicrobial properties and assists in providing a closer shave.
Rosemary – helps reduce inflammation, prevents bacteria build up on the skin and protects cells from free radical damage.
Tomatoes – the source of the power antioxidant – lycopene – it has amazing ability to neutralize free radical damage providing important protective properties while reducing inflammation.
Watercress – its main purpose is to tone and purify the skin.
Who knew a trip to the market could result in an abundance of skin care products as well as some staples of a healthy diet!