Know Your Ingredients: Papaya

Elemental-HerbalogyPhoto: Courtesy of Elemental Herbology.
As people with extraordinarily elaborate skin-care routines, we pride ourselves on using products with the most effective ingredients around. Of course, this involves actually knowing what those ingredients are. And, boy, are there a lot of ingredients out there. In Know Your Ingredients, our ongoing series, we'll be decoding the many oils, acids, extracts, and more that appear in our favorite products.
Some product ingredients are safe enough to eat. Others literally double as food — like papaya. This fruit actually has properties that make it a natural chemical exfoliator, which is why it shows up in skin-care products, like peels and scrubs.
According to Ling Chan, founder of Ling Skin Care and Spa, "Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which digests away dead and unhealthy skin cells." The effect? Brighter, smoother skin, clearer pores, and less pimples. In fact, she says, "Papain is very beneficial for preventing and treating acne." Elemental Herbology Founder Kristy Cimesa adds, "Papaya is also rich in vitamins A and C, which have antioxidant benefits."
Another plus? Papaya doesn't need to be processed in order to work for your skin. Cimesa says,"You can mash the pulp of a papaya at home and then just apply it to your face, leaving it on for 20 minutes." Chan notes that while this will definitely purify and exfoliate, a professionally made product might be stronger and therefore more effective. "And, less messy," she says.
But, while this is an ingredient with "do try this at home" potential, Cimesa clarifies that it might not be ideal for all skin types. "As with all topical exfoliators, on rare occasions, skin can prove to be hypersensitive to the active ingredient — even the most gentle ones," she says. "If you know your skin is prone to react to enzymatic action, try a patch test behind your ear or on the inside of your wrist before applying to your face."
Worst-case scenario? If it doesn't work with your skin, you can just make a smoothie, and call it a day. Either way, you're doing something good for your body.
Elemental Herbology Macadamia & Papaya Radiance Body Scrub, $72, available at Elemental Herbology.

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