By: Veronica Lopez
A quick Pinterest search for “DIY face mask” will most likely reveal several options for kitchen-based concoctions you can slather on your face. Almost all of them will claim that sugar is an exfoliant, so you *need* to include it, that yogurt will leave your skin glowing, and that bananas are the best moisturizer.
These are some pretty big claims for ingredients you can get at the grocery store, and when you want quick results, it’s tempting to pick up a certified, proven chemical solution at the drugstore.
But don’t toss out your brown avocado just yet. We spoke to Dr. Rachel Nazarian, of New York City’s Schweiger Dermatology Group and Assistant Clinical Professor of the Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology, to set the record straight on what fruits are actually beneficial to your skin.
Here are some of the best ones, and how you can DIY the eff out of the ‘em. Baby soft skin awaits!
For Clearer Skin: Strawberries
The most photogenic fruit has more benefits than just looking cute on Insta. Strawberries are rich in natural salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that helps chemically exfoliate the skin and encourage the production of newer, smoother skin cells. AKA, the bougie face creams you overpay for have the same ingredient you can find in your fridge! Dr. Nazarian also says that salicylic acid acts as an antibacterial that decreases topical bacteria found in acne-prone skin. So, if you’re struggling with a breakout, puree ½ cup of strawberries with ¼ cup of cornstarch to thicken it. Leave it on for about 30 minutes, then rinse.
For A Brightening Boost: Papaya
According to Dr. Nazarian, papaya is rich in a chemical called papain, which promotes skin healing and collagen formation. Collagen, which is more than just an injectable to plump your lips, is the protein in your body that gives your skin its strength and elasticity. Papaya also contains antioxidants, which help minimize the instability of free-radicals and fight their aging effects on our skin, both when applied on the surface and when eaten. When pureed and mixed with honey (which in itself contains natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory benefits) and a little bit of whole milk, it becomes an effective way to perk up your skin and make it feel fresh. But be warned, it’s not for everyone.
“Many people find that they are allergic to papaya,” Dr. Nazarian said, “and those with a latex allergy should be cautious in applying topical papaya due to cross-allergy between the two items.”
For Dry Skin: Avocado
Avo is more than a topping for your brunch toast, trust. You already know it’s “the good kind of fat,” but when applied to your skin, those same high levels of fatty acids can be deliciously hydrating. But don’t expect to see your fine lines fill or your dark circles disappear forever. The immediate effects may minimize your wrinkles but it is “incredibly subtle and absolutely temporary,” Dr. Nazarian said. Using an avo mask is no more than what it would feel like to use a creamy lotion. Still, it’s way more fun. Mush one up with an organic egg yolk and apply to the face for about 20 minutes for a hydrating boost.
For Subtle Anti-Aging: Blueberries
Both blueberries and blackberries are jam-packed with antioxidants, which minimize free-radicals. For a term that gets tossed around a lot, free-radicals can be kind of confusing. Turns out, they’re big contributors to the aging of our skin and bodies, as they’re actually unstable, reactive molecules formed in our bodies through basic aging and environmental damage. Antioxidants can help. Foods rich in antioxidants include cranberries, beans, artichokes, pecans, and walnuts (in addition to even more fruits, veggies, and nuts).
Using blueberries and blackberries on the skin might not offer as much of a benefit as actually eating them, but they will offer some benefit by undoing daily aging and damage. However, take note: their bright color may give your skin a bluish tint. To avoid looking like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka but still put those old berries to good use, puree them and mix with plain yogurt. The yogurt itself contains lactic acid, which, according to Dr. Nazarian, acts as a mild exfoliant when applied topically.
“This is a good option for calming skin, yet removing dead surface skin cells to promote newer cell formation,” she says. Limit the application time to 10 minutes, then rinse.
Natural home remedies may help your skin look and feel better, but remember: blemishes, discoloration, and aging are all totally normal. What matters most is how you feel about yourself. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a zit-zapper at the drugstore, but don’t let your old fruits go to waste! With a little research and creativity, you may find your new favorite Saturday night ritual (second only to pizza ordering and binge-Netflix watching).
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