Ingredient Breakdown: Pumpkin
Carve it, bake it in a pie, gut it and eat the seeds - but smear it on your face? That might be something you aren’t used to doing with pumpkin. Did you know that pumpkin is an excellent natural product for skin care? You’ve probably been hearing a lot about pumpkin and skin health, and we’ve decided to see just what all the hype is about. And just in time for fall!
Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, along with melons, zucchini, and cucumbers. They are round or oval fruits that have hard shells and coarse, stringy pulp. A cavity within the central part of the pumpkin holds the seeds. Most pumpkins are orange, but they can also be white, yellow, or other colors depending on the variety. Pumpkins grow on vines and bushes and the plants have large prickly leaves and produce flowers. The oldest domesticated pumpkin seeds are said to have originated in Central America more than 7,500 years ago. They are an ideal crop because they have thick flesh, perfect for storing during the cold seasons.
One of the oldest American recipes for pumpkin dates to the 1670’s. It was used then as a side dish, but today it is most commonly used in a variety of desserts, lattes, and even skin care products. We enjoy pumpkin because of its unique flavor and the many health and skin benefits it provides. Here are a few popular uses of pumpkin for health and beauty:
Younger Looking Skin
Ageless is a word used to describe something that lasts forever or never looks old. In the case of skin, it means having skin that doesn’t show any signs of aging – no wrinkles, no dark circles under the eyes, and a healthy glow to the skin. Don’t we all want ageless skin? Pumpkin is a great natural product that is filled with beta-carotene, an essential vitamin that protects the skin from wrinkle-causing UV rays.
Blemishes and frequent breakouts can be embarrassing and frustrating. Those with acne-prone skin may benefit from acne treatments that include pumpkin. Why? Pumpkin contains vitamins E and T, also called torulitine, that helps to fight acne. Acne treatments with pumpkin also promote healthier skin, reduce acne-induced inflammation, tighten pores, and help to balance oil levels so pores stay clog-free. Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are also used to reduce acne and reduce inflammation.
Decrease Your Risk of Cancer
Another benefit of beta-carotene-filled pumpkins is that they help to fight cancer. Beta-carotenes lower the risk of prostate and lung cancer. Other cancer-fighting agents in pumpkin include vitamins A and C. These antioxidants guard your cells from free radicals that would lead to cancer.
Boosts the Immune System & Protects the Body
Pumpkin is filled with all sorts of good nutrients – including magnesium. Magnesium helps protect the bones, nervous system, heart regulation, and bowl functions. The vitamin A in pumpkin is an antioxidant that helps the body to fend off harmful bacteria, which keeps the immune system functioning as it should.
Treats Dry Skin
Pumpkin doesn’t discriminate between skin types, it is excellent for use on all types of skin, but is often used to help those with dry skin. Exfoliators and moisturizers that contain pumpkin can be used on all skin types to help slough away dead skin cells so new, healthier skin can take its place. The natural enzymes found in pumpkin help to revitalize the skin by hydrating it and dissolving dry skin cells. This is especially important as winter approaches!
DIY Pumpkin Recipes
After reading about many of the benefits of pumpkin (and to think there are even more we didn’t mention!), you are probably wondering how you can use pumpkin in your daily skin care and health routine. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make an all-natural face mask by combining ¼ cup pureed pumpkin, one egg, one tablespoon of honey, and a table of milk. Once you apply it to your face let it sit for about twenty minutes before thoroughly rinsing it off.
- Have dry skin on your heels? Combine two tablespoons of pumpkin puree with equal parts Vaseline. Apply at night and wear socks to allow for deep moisturizing.
- Rub the fleshy side of a piece of fresh pumpkin on your face after washing to help tighten and tone the skin.
- Roast the seeds with spices and toss them on top of a salad.
- Follow your favorite recipe for pumpkin cookies, bread, and pie.
- Use pumpkin seed oil, which is extracted from roasted pumpkin seeds, to top your salad. Keep in mind that heating this oil will weaken and destroy its health properties.