This post was inspired by two articles that I read in the February 2011 issue of Day Spa magazine (unfortunately I cannot find the articles online). Not surprisingly since the issue of the magazine was for February both wine and chocolate were featured in the articles.
Hippocrates wrote that we should let food be our medicine. More than 2,000 years later, scientists now believe this wisdom extends to what we see in the mirror. Increasingly, women can treat fine lines, sunburn, dullness, and splotches with ingredients usually found on our plates. “Dietary substances known to be good for the complexion are sometimes better applied topically than ingested,” says David H. McDaniel, director for the Institute of Anti-Aging Research and an assistant professor of clinical dermatology and plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School. “You can get higher concentrations in the skin this way.” Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as adding a little pureed pineapple to a scrub because it’s been shown to even skin tone, or pomegranate because it’s a potent antioxidant. “Effectiveness is not based in the ingredient alone—extracts must be specially formulated so that they get into the skin,” says Leslie Baumann, director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute.
So let me highlight a few fruits and vegetables and explain their benefits:
Grape seed based products and treatments are anti-aging powerhouses because of the antioxidants and polyphenols in grapes. According to the article in Day Spa magazine: “chemical compounds belonging to a group of substances found in plants, polyphenols include tannins, lignins, resveratol and flavonoids. Rich in antioxidants, they’ve also been found to contain similar properties to some anticancer drugs. When applied topically, they act as free radical scavengers, defending the skin, promoting tissue elasticity and ultimately achieving a more youthful appearance.” Not only can you find numerous skincare products with grape or wine extracts amongst their ingredients many spas offer vinotherapy or spa treatments utilizing wine and/or grapes. This spa niche was pioneered in Bordeaux, France (where else, of course?) at the Caudalie spa which opened in 1993. Find grape seed in Eminence Organic Skin care products, and Murad products among many others.
Chocolate: I have a confession to make – I love chocolate; I eat it every day actually. So it makes perfect sense to me to buy a skincare product with chocolate in it or get a spa treatment that utilizes chocolate. So what benefits does chocolate have for our skin? According to the article in Day Spa magazine: “the antioxidant-rich seeds of the cacao tree work wonders on the senses, and tighten, firm, and hydrate the dermis.” All antioxidants fight free radical damage, reduce skin inflammation, and are soothing for the skin. If you can get all those benefits from chocolate what could be more wonderful? Try it in Rhonda Allison chocolate antioxidant mask, and Biotone cocoa comfort massage lotion among other products.
Oatmeal is a great ingredient for sensitive skin since it is anti-inflammatory, calms irritation, and even hydrates. Aveeno is a mass market brand that has oatmeal in its products.
Cooking oil – According to the Allure articles: “Dietary oils contain copious lipids, some of which skin cells need to remain healthy,” says Baumann. Their primary role is to restore the skin’s protective barrier, especially when it’s dry—but medical research has revealed other benefits as well. Safflower oil contains oleic and linoleic acids with anti-inflammatory properties. And olive oil has polyphenolic compounds that may protect against inflammation and may also prevent the onset of UV-induced skin cancers. PRODUCTS: Borba HD-Illuminating Hydrator, Eau Thermale Avène Trixera+ Seléctiose Emollient Cream, and Trish McEvoy Dry Skin Normalizer have safflower oil; Korres Natural Products Olive and Rye Day Cream and PerriconeMD Cosmeceuticals Protective Hydrator SPF 15 contain olive oil.”
Pumpkin is a great exfoliant since it contains enzymes that help eat away (I know not the greatest image to have in mind but it works) at dead skin cells leaving you with a smoother and softer complexion. Pumpkin also contains the antioxidants bioflanovoids and Vitamin A that protect the skin. Find it is GloTherapeutics Glopumpkin enzyme scrub.
I’ve written in the past about how great green tea is for our skin both when we drink it and when we apply it topically. See my post Ingredient Spotlight: Green Tea for lots more information.
The list above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring how fruits, vegetables, and other foods can benefit our skin when applies topically. The Allure article highlights more foods if you are interested in continuing your reading.