You might pay close attention to nutrition labels, but if asked to name the active ingredients in your facial cleanser, could you answer? Whether it’s brand loyalty, pretty packaging or simply a delightful scent that draws us to a skincare product, we rarely know how the ingredients benefit our skin. My solution? I try picking my skin care products like I do my groceries: the more natural the ingredients, the healthier my skin is.
Now, I’m not suggesting pureed banana in place of your moisturizer, but rather choosing products with at least one fruit-enzyme as an active ingredient. When ingested, fruit-derived enzymes allow the body to properly digest nutrients, many of which dramatically improve your skin’s health. When used topically, the same enzymatic action is harnessed, resulting in a wide range of chemical reactions that rejuvenate and refine your skin’s surface.
One particular enzyme to look for is papain, the protelytic enzyme of papaya. Because this tropical fruit is naturally low in sodium, it preserves moisture and keeps skin hydrated. Abundant in antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C and folate, papain also defends against free-radical damage and slows signs of aging. And if you’ve ever heard of alph-hydroxy acids, gentle yet potent acids that are proven to brighten skin and clear pores, then you know many AHAs are naturally derived from fruit, including the papaya.
Two fruit-full products that use the delicate exfoliating properties of green unripened papaya are Jan Marini’s Clean Zyme Cleanser and Skin Zyme Mask ($72). The rejuvenating cleanser reduces follicular retention, which helps to clear acne and prevent breakouts. Without causing irritation, the gentle exfoliating mask reduces hyperpigmentation, scars, and age spots as it digests dead and damaged cells on the skin’s surface. And, unlike other exfoliating products that are too harsh for frequent use, these “supplemental home care products” are meant to replace your cleanser and can be used just as regularly.
Other fruity ingredients to keep an eye out for include the enzyme bromelien, usually found in pineapple stems, and extracts from antioxidant-rich pomegranates, vitamin-packed kiwis and free radical fighting blueberries.