The Beauty Benefits of Pumpkin
It’s that time of year again: pumpkins are everywhere on full display. Most of us associate the globose orange gourd with autumnal décor, Halloween jack-o’-lanterns and, of course, pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. But did you know that pumpkin contains a wealth of beauty-boosters? Whether eaten or applied topically, pumpkin is full of nutrients that beautify your skin and hair. Using the whole pumpkin is key: pumpkin flesh and seeds both offer vital health and skin-saving elements.
When it comes to maintaining one’s youthful good looks, there’s no simple substitute for a good night’s sleep (but I’ll admit Crème de la Mer does come close). You insomniacs will be relieved to learn that pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil can help you get more of that elusive beauty sleep as they are loaded with tryptophan (as is turkey — no wonder I always drift off after Thanksgiving dinner!) and the mineral magnesium, both of which help you relax and fall asleep.1
Skin care benefits
Pumpkin seed oil is prized in aromatherapy for both its delicious scent and its essential fatty acid profile and vitamin content, which are readily absorbed by the skin.2 Pumpkin seeds also contain anti-inflammatory properties that slow down the aging process.
If you suffer from dry, flaky skin or acne, you’ll benefit from the enzymes in pumpkin flesh that dissolve old surface skin cells and promote new cell generation. 2 Pureed pumpkin is also rich in the mineral zinc and beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A), both of which soothe damaged skin. And it’s an excellent source of vitamin C, which defends against free radical damage and reduces dark spots and wrinkles.
Mychelle Dermaceuticals has an excellent pumpkin-based skin care line; try their Pumpkin Renew Cream.
To create a wonderful DIY exfoliating and moisturizing masque combine 2 tablespoons of fresh pumpkin purée with 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil and 1/2 teaspoon raw honey and slather on your skin (face, hands, wherever you need it) for 10-20 minutes and rinse off with warm water. FYI, to make pumpkin purée, first lightly steam a pumpkin, remove the seeds and blend the flesh in food processor or blender. Steaming or baking the pumpkin first makes it much easier to cut open.
You needn’t wait for the holidays to enjoy the delicious benefits of pumpkin. Personally, I never tire of a perfectly prepared gratin de potiron d’Arpajon3 accompanied of course, by a glass of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Reaping the anti-aging benefits of both pumpkin and red wine — that, dear reader, is perfection itself.
3 Julia Child and Simone Beck Mastering the Art of French Cooking volume 2, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.