This time of year is about all pumpkin everything. Pumpkin spice lattés, pumpkin candles, pumpkin pie, pumpkin-lined porches, pumpkin patches, pumpkin plus anything, you get the picture. Somehow pumpkin and its host of skin care benefits got overlooked on the road to full pumpkin saturation.
Pumpkin, fall’s favorite fruit, (yes a fruit) has it all. It has chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids and enzymes that remove dead skin cells so skin can soak up all of pumpkin’s powerful antioxidants and nutrients that brighten skin, smooth complexion, moisturize, and combat aging.
Keep reading to learn about pumpkin’s beneficial properties and why pumpkin products are the perfect addition to a fall skin care routine.
THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF PUMPKIN
ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are chemical exfoliants that work on the epidermis (top layer of skin) to dissolve dead skin cells by speeding up the skin’s natural exfoliation process. Skin cells regenerate approximately every 28 days. With age, cell turnover naturally slows down, and as a result, dead skin cells remain on the surface for a longer period of time.
So when they start to accumulate, it leaves skin with a dull, lifeless complexion. Using AHAs to exfoliate dead skin helps stimulate new cell growth and give skin that healthy glow.
This ingredient is beneficial for acne-prone skin as it helps clear congested pores. Its powerful moisturizing, hydrating, and skin-normalizing abilities help to diminish the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
Pumpkin is packed with another chemical exfoliant: enzymes. Enzymes work by dissolving the top layer of dead skin cells can be used as an alternative to AHAs for people with sensitive skin.
They reduce the appearance of fine lines, unclog pores, bring new skin cells to the surface, and overall brighten complexion. Enzymes leave skin smooth and soft.
Both plant enzymes and AHAs leave skin more receptive to beneficial products applied directly afterward.
Pumpkin’s bright orange color is a telltale sign of it being packed with beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant and vitamin A derivative that gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant hue.
Antioxidants protect skin by destroying free radicals. WTF is a free radical you ask? Free radicals are charged chemical particles of oxygen that enter into destructive chemical bonds with organic substances such as proteins. The result is an oxidation of the substance, which destroys it. Like when you leave a cut avocado in the open air and it turns brown.
Environmental aggressors such as pollution, smoke, and the sun increase the number of free radicals in the air, causing inflammation, aging, and visible redness. Beta-carotene helps combat all that, and it decreases wrinkles and reduces susceptibility to sunburn.
Vitamin A is an anti-aging ingredient and potent antioxidant. When applied topically, it thickens and stimulates the dermis (middle layer of skin) where collagen, elastin, and blood vessels are located.
Collagen is a protein and the primary structural component of the dermis. It’s responsible for strengthening and supporting skin, which gives skin its plumpness. As these building blocks breakdown through the process of aging, the skin starts to produce less collagen, and elastin, another protein, becomes less springy. This leads to fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.
Vitamin A slows the breakdown of these structural elements. It boosts collagen production and increases blood flow to the surface of the skin. By repairing skin damage at a cellular level, vitamin A promotes the growth of new skin cells, resulting in — increased elasticity, smoother skin texture, fewer wrinkles, and minimized scars.
Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant like vitamin A providing anti-aging benefits such as firmer skin and fewer wrinkles. It does all this through the same mechanisms of promoting collagen production and neutralizing free radicals that damage skin.
It helps fight and reduce the effects of sun damage. Vitamin C is a depigmenting agent that helps fade dark spots known as hyperpigmentation and brighten skin.
Topically-applied combinations of vitamin C and vitamin E are more effective in preventing photodamage than either vitamin alone.
Antioxidant and free radical scavenger that heals, hydrates, and protects skin. It protects skin from sun damage and counteracts inflammation and changes in skin pigmentation. It helps regulate sebaceous (oil) gland function, which is great for oily and acne-prone skin.
Vitamin E improves the appearance of dry, rough, or damaged skin by protecting fat in the skin’s tissue from breaking down. Making the skin healthier and livelier.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) like omega-3s (found in fish) and omega-6s (found in vegetable oils) are another the building block of healthy skin cells. These fatty acids help produce skin's natural oil barrier that locks in moisture to keep skin looking hydrated, healthier, plumper, and more youthful.
This barrier also protects against bacteria that causes whiteheads and blackheads. EFAs improve overall complexion by reducing skin sensitivity, inflammation, and dryness.
Pumpkin also contains a zinc, which is a healing agent and natural acne remedy all in one ingredient. Zinc repairs damaged skin by speeding up cell regeneration, and it helps prevent acne by reducing oil production and balancing skin hormone levels. Zinc’s healing properties also reduce inflammation and scarring that is caused by acne.
Ready to give pumpkin skin care a try? Here are pumpkin-containing skin products to get started.
PUMPKIN SKIN CARE PRODUCTS
Fall is my absolute favorite season, which makes me an sucker for anything pumpkin related. If I had to pick one pumpkin thing to take to a deserted island though, it’d be pumpkin pie. What pumpkin products are you loving for fall? Tell me in the comments below.