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Perhaps you already know that adding papaya to your diet has many health benefits – treats a number of digestive issues, promotes heart health, aids weight loss, stimulates reproductive organs, to name a few. But did you know that this Fruit of the Angels, as Christopher Columbus called it, offers many skin benefits as well?
Yes, that's right – from wound healing to anti-aging, papaya indeed does wonders for our skin. Read on to find out more about the Angels' Fruit, its benefits for the skin as well as how you can use it.
What Is Papaya?
Papaya, also known as papaw and pawpaw, is the Carica papaya plant, one of the 22 species of the same plant family. It grows on small (5 to 10 meters tall) trees with sparsely arranged branches and leaves on the top of the trunk. The fruits are borne right under the branches, and they are usually 15 to 45 cm or 6 to 28 inches long. The Carica papaya plant is native to Central America and southern Mexico.
The plant bears fruit all year long and can grow in any season. It owes its popularity and cute nicknames to its sweetness, aroma, and cream-like consistency. Besides being super-delicious, it's a true nutrient powerhouse, containing:
- Vitamins: A, B, C, and E;
- Minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, and copper;
- Phytochemicals: caffeic acid, myricetin, lycopene, quercetin, papain, α-tocopherol, benzyl isothiocyanate, and kaempferol.
While papaya is undoubtedly a healthy between-meals snack, it also makes for an ideal skincare ingredient, offering a variety of beauty benefits when applied topically as well.
Benefits of Papaya for the Skin
Papaya can often be found in skincare and hair care products but has also gained huge popularity as a natural at-home treatment. The many skin benefits of papaya can be attributed to the abundance of vitamins it contains, but also to the unique enzyme called papain, which exhibits anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Here's a summary of the most fantastic skin benefits of papaya:
Antioxidants in papaya, such as vitamins E, A, and C, as well as lycopene, that fight free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, helping the skin remain smooth and youthful. In addition, it enhances skin elasticity and the production of type I collagen in the skin, erasing signs of aging, such as sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles [source].
One of the active enzymes in this orange beauty is papain with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and exfoliating properties [source]. Just like AHAs or BHAs, papain removes the dead skin cells from its surface, promoting cell turnover and making way for new and healthy cells to emerge.
#3: Skin Whitening
Many fruits act as skin whitening or skin bleaching agents. Besides vitamin C-rich fruits like lemon, lime, and orange, papaya is one of the leading fruits with a skin whitening effect. This is again thanks to its unique enzyme papain that can remove dark spots, treat melasma, lighten skin, and exfoliate it at the same time [source].
#4: Wound Healing
Since papaya is full of compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it has been traditionally used for healing wounds and burns. A 2012 study showed that papaya seed extract helped heal wounds faster in rats. Compared to the controlled group, the group that was treated with the extract showed faster wound closing as well as the higher hydroxyproline content in the skin, which is the major component of collagen in animals.
#5: Acne Treatment
Research suggests that the enzymes chymopapain and papain in papaya fruit also help with acne. This is partly due to their exfoliating properties, removing dead skin cells from the skin's surface and preventing clogging of the pores that can lead to breakouts.
Additionally, since these compounds have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects as well, they can reduce swelling, redness, and irritation associated with acne. Furthermore, some studies show that papain is also effective in the treatment of scarring.
#6: Dandruff Control
According to a 2011 study, papaya seeds extract exhibits antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Since dandruff is often associated with fungal (yeast) infections of the scalp, antifungal agents such as papaya seed extract can be used to treat and prevent dandruff, scalps flakiness, and itchiness.
Face Masks With Papaya
To get the most out of this incredible fruit, you can whip up quick and easy face masks with papaya. These will gently exfoliate your skin and remove dead skin cells from your pores, helping you get an acne-free and dewy complexion.
Here are some ideas for DIY papaya face masks:
Papaya and Honey Face Mask
In this nourishing face mask recipe, we're combining papaya, honey, egg yolk, and rosehip oil. It's excellent for all of you looking for a hydrating and moisturizing face pack with added exfoliating and anti-aging effects.
- 2 tablespoons mashed papaya
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons rosehip oil
Preparation & application:
- Combine mashed papaya with honey. Stir well to get an even blend.
- Add other ingredients and give it a good stir again to combine everything well.
- Apply the mask to cleansed face and leave it on for about 30 minutes.
- Rinse off with lukewarm water and apply your moisturizer.
If you have any leftovers, keep them in the fridge in an airtight container and use the mask the next day again. Don't keep it in the fridge for longer than three days.
Papaya and Lemon Juice Face Mask
For those of you fighting with hyperpigmentation and dark spots, this DIY papaya face mask is a godsend. The enzymes from papaya combined with lemon juice and carrot seed oil will exfoliate and lighten your skin, giving you an even, bright, and blemish-free complexion.
- 1 tablespoon mashed papaya
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
- 1 teaspoon carrot seed oil
Preparation & application:
- Combine all the ingredients well to get a smooth paste.
- Apply to cleansed face and neck and leave it on for about 15 minutes. Avoid the area around your eyes.
- Rinse off with lukewarm water and follow up with your moisturizer.
Bear in mind that applying this mask can get quite messy. So, wear an old T-shirt and try not to move too much while having it on. And again, if you have any leftovers, don't keep them in the fridge for longer than one or two days.
Other Ways to Use Papaya for Skin Care
It's not only papaya fruit that's super-nutritious and beneficial for the skin. All the parts of the papaya plant contain certain compounds targeting specific skin issues, including its leaves, peel, and seeds. Here's how you can use them:
- Apply papaya peel on your cleansed face and leave it on for about 20 minutes. It will help with blemishes;
- To make a soothing and moisturizing face pack, slice papaya peel and mix it with a little bit of honey and milk;
- To get rid of dandruff, you can slice papaya peel and soak it in apple cider vinegar for a week or two. Then remove the peel from the mix and apply the solution with a cotton pad to your scalp 20 minutes before shampooing;
- Extract the juice from papaya fruit using a finely mashed cloth. Drench a cotton pad in the juice and apply it to your face and other areas where you have dark spots. Leave on for about 15 minutes, then rinse;
- For dressing wounds and injuries, you can use the juice out of papaya leaves. Wash one papaya leaf, cut it into smaller pieces, put them inside a cloth, and squeeze to extract the pulp;
- For treating scars, use dried papaya seeds. Crush the dried seeds and mix them with almond oil and rosehip oil. Apply the mixture to the affected area and leave it on for about 20 minutes.
Papaya is indeed a very versatile fruit and offers a plethora of skin benefits when consumed and applied topically. You can easily make homemade papaya face masks – just mix papaya with honey and your favorite nourishing oil, and you're good to go.
It's excellent for all skin types, except for those with very sensitive skin. If you have a sensitive skin type, you should consult with your dermatologist before applying your DIY papaya face mask to your face. All in all, it's a simple idea that's definitely worth a try – it will nourish and exfoliate your skin, giving you that instant glow.
Can we use papaya daily on the face?
DIY papaya face packs are an excellent addition to your beauty routine. However, since papaya has mild exfoliating properties, you shouldn't apply it to your face every day. Instead, use it once or twice a week.
How is papaya helpful for skin?
Papaya fruit contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (such as papain, caffeic acid, and lycopene) that are super beneficial for the skin. These compounds exhibit anti-aging, exfoliating, whitening, and healing properties.
How does papaya whiten the skin?
Papaya contains a unique enzyme with bleaching properties called papain. This enzyme exfoliates the skin while, at the same time, it removes dark spots and leads to a brighter and more even complexion.
How can I use papaya for glowing skin?
There are many ways you can use papaya to get that skin glow. Simply, mash papaya flesh (one or two tablespoons) and mix it with honey and your favorite facial oil. It will nourish, exfoliate, and hydrate your skin. Over time, you might even notice fewer wrinkles and fine lines.
Can I rub papaya peel on my face?
Besides papaya flesh, other parts of the papaya plant offer skin benefits, including its peel, leaves, and seeds. You can peel papaya fruit and apply the peel to your cleansed face. Leave on for about 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse.