Ingredient Spotlight: Papaya

Papayas are a tropical fruit with annoying seeds (if you’ve ever cut into one, you know what we’re talking about) but did you know that this tasty treat also boasts major skin care benefits?! Yep, it’s true! Here, we take a bite out of papaya’s complexion-boosting properties.

Remind me again what a papaya is?

Papaya is a fruit that grows on the Carica papaya plant, which is native to southern Mexico and Central America. Today, the U.S. gets many of its papayas from Hawaii. They’re similar in shape to a pear, but can grow to be almost 2 feet long. Papayas naturally contain fiber, potassium, vitamins A, B9 and C, and even a bit of protein, calcium, and magnesium. They can be eaten raw (only if they’re ripe, though!) or cooked up — and many people use them to tenderize meat because the fruit contains enzymes that can break down tough muscle.

What does papaya do for our skin?

Think of papaya as a super-charged, skin-brightening exfoliator. Papain, a proteolytic enzyme found in papaya (the same one that works so well to tenderize meat!) actually works to dissolve dead, dulling skin cells when it’s applied to the surface of our skin.

What happens when we’re able to rid our skin of dead cells? The texture of our skin gets smoother, the color of our skin gets more even, and our skin’s hydration increases. Plus, our pores are de-gunked, which can = less pimples. Additionally, papaya contains vitamin A and vitamin C — both of which are well regarded in skin circles for their antioxidant and anti-aging properties. So, not only does papaya slough away icky dead skin cells to uncover healthy, glowing skin, but it also works to fight against environmental and UV damage, helps quell inflammation, encourages healthy skin cell production and accelerates collagen formation — all thanks to vitamins A and C.

Who benefits from using skin care products containing papaya?

Acne suffers, take note: Because papain clears skin of dead skin cells, thereby helping to de-clog pores, it works well in both the prevention and treatment of acne. And those antioxidant benefits? Well, any and all skin types — but especially aging skin — will see an improvement in hyperpigmentation (aka all those pesky dark spots) and fine lines. Papaya’s skin care benefits are even believed to extend to decreasing the appearance of under-eye circles, so if you look perpetually tired, you may want to try out an eye cream boasting papaya!

Is papaya safe for all skin types?

For the most part, yes. But those with sensitive skin may experience a reaction to papain, so it’s best to administer a patch test on the inside of your wrist to see how your skin behaves before applying a papaya-filled product to your face.

Like any acid or exfoliator, it’s best to limit your use of strong ingredients to a few times a week — over exfoliating can harm your skin and cause irritation.


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