Pumpkin season is at full tilt, and while you’re scouring your local patch for just the right one, keep in mind that this ground-dwelling gourd (which is surprisingly related to the cucumber) has myriad beauty benefits.
There are three types of exfoliation: Chemical exfoliation utilizes alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids acids, physical exfoliation employs beads or granules, and enzyme-based exfoliation uses natural enzymes to melt the bonds that hold dead cells on the skin.
Appropriate for most skin types — including sensitive — enzymes provide gentle exfoliation with minimal irritation. The most popular exfoliating enzymes are derived from pineapple, papaya and, of course, pumpkin, and June Jacobs Perfect Pumpkin Enzyme Peeling Masque is a great option.
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If you’ve ever wondered why pumpkins such a bright orange, it’s because of a high concentration of beta carotene. This antioxidant is a cousin of the active compound found in skin-improving retinoids, and beta carotene has been found to protect cells (including skin cells) from degeneration, certain types of cancer and heart disease.
Pumpkins are also rich in vitamin C, which has been proven to provide free radical protection, boost collagen production and fade unwanted pigment as well.
Pumpkin seed oil
Native Americans used pumpkins for a variety of purposes, including healing. Some tribes extracted pumpkin seed oil to treat burns and wounds, and others used it to fight freckling. While these purported benefits haven’t been proven just yet, it couldn’t hurt, right?
DIY facial mask recipe
There are plenty of wonderful store-bought pumpkin-based products, but why waste all of that beautifying pulp once you’re done carving your jack-o-lantern?
Here’s how you create your own skin-improving mask at home, courtesy of BellaSugar.com:
Make your base: Whisk together about 1/4 cup of pumpkin and one egg. (You can pulse the pumpkin in a food processor to make it creamier.)
Customize: If desired, add a splash of milk, which provides additional exfoliation with lactic acid.
For dry skin: Add a bit of honey, which not only acts as a moisturizer, but the natural sweetener provides antiseptic properties, too.
For oily skin: For an astringent effect, mix in a splash of apple cider or cranberry juice.
Apply: Spread a layer of the mixture on your face. Leave on for 15 to 20 minutes and rinse off.
Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist and the CEO of the Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami Beach.