Fruit as a natural beauty product

Did you know that you can naturally refresh and renew your body’s largest organ — your skin — by using fresh fruit? It can be that simple!

Humans feed their skin with all kinds of beauty products. According to the Australian Academy of Science, off-the-shelf beauty products may contain up to 50 ingredients and women typically use up to 15 personal-care products daily. This can add up to hundreds of different chemicals every day. Swapping a few store-bought products for natural ones, like fruit, is a step in the right direction.

Get fruity

Fruits can rejuvenate the skin when used as masks and scrubs. You can find plenty of recipes to try or, if you’re feeling inspired, embark on your own rewarding natural skin-care journey by investigating the attributes of different fruits then experimenting and creating your own.

Fruit aids skin hydration

One of the key things in caring for the skin is adequate hydration as it helps plump up the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines. Cucumber, tomato, watermelon, strawberries, rockmelon and grapefruit all have a very high water content.

Fruit for glowing skin

Fruit that’s high in carotenoids gives skin a lovely translucent glow. Naturopath Alison Mitchell says when you eat red, yellow and orange fruits the beta-carotene is transported into the blood and then accumulates in the tissues. “Eat a lot of coloured fruits and your skin will have a rosy tinge,” she explains. “It’s also helpful for natural sun protection because, as we know, exposure to the sun adds to the visible signs of ageing.” The highest sources of beta-carotene are dried apricots and mangoes.

Is sugar sinful for the skin?

Sugar has been implicated in expediting the ageing process, yet many fruits are high in sugar. Dermatologist Dr Katherine Armour says consuming sugar leads to a process called glycation. “This is when the glucose creates changes in collagen and elastin molecules in the skin, potentially creating more fine lines,” she explains.

Mix mashed banana with raw sugar and use as a scrub to remove dry flaky skin on your hands.

The good news is, however, that the sugar in fruit is not of the refined variety (which is a far worse culprit for glycation). “In any case, the antioxidant benefit found in fruit would far outweigh the mild glycation effect,” she adds.

Regardless, we are cautioned not to overdo it. According to the Dietitians Association of Australia, the recommended daily intake of fruit is two medium-sized (150g) pieces. Too much sugar contributes to weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and acne.

Detox for fresh fabulous skin

Fruit is a wonderful way to detox and can give your skin a shimmery glow. If you’re planning a skin detox, Mitchell suggests starting your day with a breakfast smoothie containing your favourite greens, some lemon or lime and collagen powder to aid skin repair.

Mitchell explains that fruits are a viable part of a detox because many contain bulk fibre. “Fruits that are rich in fibre will bind up toxins and help you to eliminate them more effectively,” she says. Avocado, pears, apples, raspberries and bananas are all high in fibre.

Fruit for fantastic skin

Eating fruit has a multitude of beauty benefits. According to Armour, there are plenty of good reasons to snack on raw fruit as part of your beauty routine: “There is emerging evidence that we should be eating fruit that’s high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties.”

So, what about putting fruit on your skin? According to Armour, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence but not a lot of science to back the claims. “That isn’t to say it isn’t true — it’s an emerging field with more clinical studies to be done,” she says.

If you’re looking for a skincare product that contains real benefits from fruit, it should be in the top third of the ingredients list.

Many off-the-shelf products these days contain fruit extracts. If you’re buying skin products that contain fruit, Amour cautions to always check the labels. “Is there any raspberry in it or have they just put it on the label, coloured it and added fragrance?” she warns. Check the product listing. If you’re looking for a skincare product that contains real benefits from fruit, it should be in the top third of the ingredients list.

There is such a rich and vibrant diversity and seasonality to fruits. Among Mitchell’s favourites for natural beauty is pomegranate, because it’s packed full of antioxidants. “Pomegranate helps with renewing the skin, regenerates cells and plumps up and hydrates the skin,” she says. “You can even add a few drops of it to your moisturiser as you apply it.”

The special ingredient in pomegranate is urolithin A, which is a key rejuvenator.

Mango is another natural beauty product that refreshes and plumps up the skin. Mitchell shares that mangoes are full of antioxidants and have astringent properties that help tighten the skin and assist with healing. “Adding a little rosehip or jojoba oil to mango also works well,” she says.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away but, according to Armour, it’s also good for the skin: “Apples contain phloretin, a flavonoid found exclusively in them. Some studies have shown it has photoprotective effects, a biochemical process which helps with skin sun damage caused by exposure.”

Blueberry is another top pick for Armour because it’s high in vitamin C. “This is important in the production of collagen in the skin,” she says. “In experimental models, blueberries block glycation, which causes clumping of collagen and elastin [and that] makes the skin look yellow and sallow.”

No matter which fruit you choose, always pick the freshest possible and, when making skin care products, use within a few days to maximise effectiveness.

There are many fruits that can refresh your skin and give it a youthful glow. Here are some of the best.

Lovely lemon

When life gives you lemons, turn them into a natural beauty treatment. Lemons are rich in vitamin C and an insufficiency of this vitamin impacts the body’s ability to produce collagen, which also naturally diminishes with age.

Lemons also contain antibacterial properties, so lemon juice is effective in fighting skin conditions like acne.

The vitamin C in lemon boosts the immune system and lemons contain pectin, a prebiotic that assists with gut health.

Fresh and fabulous skin food:

Start your day with lemon juice and a little apple-cider vinegar in water to cleanse the body.

Brighten and lighten your elbows and knees by rubbing on some lemon juice. Rinse off after 15 minutes.

The juice of a ¼ lemon and a tsp of bicarb can whiten nails. Just mix and apply, massaging in around the nail.

For a citrus exfoliating scrub, use ½ cup sea salt, 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp unrefined virgin coconut oil, zest of a lemon and juice of ½ a lemon. Stir salt and oils together then add citrus. Massage dry skin before showering for a zesty start to your day. (From Homemade Beauty by Annie Strole.)

Terrific tomato

Because of its luscious taste and bright red colour, this edible red fruit was once called a love apple. Tomatoes are a nutrient-dense, versatile fruit rich in the antioxidant lycopene, a carotenoid pigment. Antioxidants in tomatoes fight free radicals. Free radicals can accelerate the oxidisation process, leading to visible signs of ageing.

Fresh and fabulous skin food:

Add tomato to salads, snack on cherry tomatoes or turn them into salsa and pasta sauces.

As a sunburn remedy, mix tomato juice and buttermilk and apply to sunburn. Rinse off after 20 minutes.

Rub a half tomato over your skin; it helps shrink the pores.

Tomato and milk juice cleanser (for normal and oily skin): The lactic acid content offers a gentle peeling action. Test on the wrist for any allergic responses. You’ll need one tomato, some fresh whole milk and filtered water. Juice the tomato and strain, adding the juice to equal amount of milk. Apply to the face and neck twice daily. Rinse off after 10 minutes. (From Pretty as a Peach by Janet Hayward and Susie Pritchard-Casey.)

Kool as a kiwi

Fuzzy, egg-shaped kiwifruit is a nutritional dynamo, chock full of vitamins E and C, both powerful antioxidants, and vitamin K, which helps with stretch marks and wound healing. Research by Plant & Food Research New Zealand shows consuming kiwifruit can help to regulate blood sugars, making it a great fruit for sustained energy.

Fresh and fabulous skin food:

Kiwifruit are an easy snack on the go they keep for weeks in the fridge.

Try a fruit smoothie with sliced and peeled kiwifruit, banana and fresh pineapple juice to start your day.

Pop a chilled kiwifruit slice over each eye to revitalise tired, puffy eyes.

Mix mashed kiwifruit and one banana together with a little yoghurt. Apply to face for 10 minutes then rinse off.

Wonderful watermelon

Fabulous watermelon is often thought of as just a sugary sweet treat but it’s nutritionally good for you. Watermelon is rich in vitamins A and C and is hydrating, which, of course, is essential for plumping up the skin.

Watermelon contains cucurbitacin E, a biochemical plant compound that is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory effects. It can help with skin conditions like acne.

Fresh and fabulous skin food:

Chop watermelon into chunks and enjoy on its own or with a fruit salad. Lightly barbecue watermelon chunks on the grill or add it plus a few mint leaves to a leafy salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Make a hydrating mask by mashing chopped watermelon and blending it with natural yoghurt.

For dry or irritated skin, remove the juicy flesh of the watermelon, cut wafer-thin pieces of the white rind and cover your face.

Beautiful banana

Bananas contain fibre and are high in potassium, which is essential for your heart, muscles and nerves. Too little potassium can lead to constipation, which may prompt increased skin breakouts and toxicity. Bananas also contain vitamin B6, which promotes better sleep; lots of rest is vital for glowing heathy skin.

Fresh and fabulous skin food:

Snack on a banana, add to smoothies and fruit salads or bake banana cakes or muffins.

Mix mashed banana with raw sugar and use as a scrub to remove dry flaky, skin on your hands.

To treat a dry, flaky scalp, mash a ripe banana with honey and rub into the scalp, working through to the ends of the hair. Leave for 20 minutes and wash and condition.

Use as a foot treatment: start with a soothing Epsom salt footbath then dry the feet and apply mashed bananas. Rinse well.

Succulent strawberry

Red fruits like strawberries are rich in antioxidants and high in ellagic acid, an anti-inflammatory. They also contain alpha hydroxy acid, compounds that help with acne. This compound helps remove dead skin cells, so strawberries are an ideal addition to natural beauty treatments for glowing skin.

Fresh and fabulous skin food:

Snack on handfuls of strawberries for a delicious treat that’s low in sugar.

Dip strawberries in melted dark chocolate (which is also high in antioxidants) for a sweet indulgence.

Make a strawberry face mask by mashing strawberries and adding a tablespoon of yoghurt and honey. This mask will help to revitalise the skin.

For a strawberry, honey and oat cleanser, you’ll need 1 tbsp shredded coconut, 2 strawberries, ¼ cup cooked oats, 1 tbsp coconut milk (or green tea) and 1 tbsp honey (or molasses). Combine coconut and strawberries in a food processer and blend lightly. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. This mask will store for up to two weeks in the fridge. (From Natural Beauty Skincare by Deborah Burnes.)

More star fruits for natural beauty

Peach: High in a range of minerals and vitamin C. When applied topically, it’s great for unclogging pores. Mix with a little yoghurt and honey to soothe the skin.

Fig: High in B vitamins, figs can give your skin a natural boost. Simply mash the pulp and apply to the skin.

Pineapple: High in vitamin C. Blend some berries and chunks of fresh pineapple for a delicious smoothie.

Carrol Baker

Carrol Baker

Carrol Baker is an award-winning freelance journalist who is a passionate advocate of natural health and wellness. She writes for lifestyle and healthy-living magazines across Australia and internationally.

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