Pumpkin for Beauty Benefits
Simple Ingredients for a Rejuvenating Pumpkin Mask
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It’s pumpkin season again. No doubt about. Stores with bulging containers of them, pumpkins sitting pretty on porches or front yards, on window sills and you may have one sitting on the kitchen countertop awaiting the carving knife. They’re everywhere and what are you going to do about this great dame of Fall? Make Jack O’lanterns? Now, that’s quite standard. Turn them into culinary delights? Yes, done that too and as we speak, there are people experimenting with ways to turn pumpkin into food treats. How about beauty aids?
If you’ve never considered using pumpkin for any other purposes than fall décor and food, here’s ample reasons and therefore impetus, to put pumpkin to more use. How about utilizing its rich nutrients for beauty purposes? And nature couldn’t have offered up a better choice than this adorable gourd to pamper and rejuvenate the body from outside in to inside out. Here’s why:
The Versatile Pumpkin—More than Magical Carriage
So the story goes that Cinderella travels in a carriage transformed from a pumpkin. How ingenius. But if you look at how the pumpkin has been used through the ages, you’ll agree that it’s way more ingenious and creative. Pumpkin is native to Central America and Mexico and is a member of a large extended gourd family which includes cucumbers, zucchini, honeydew, watermelon and cantaloupe. In other words, they’re crawling vines.
Early native Americans found ways to put pumpkin to use, from the blossoms down to the skin of the pumpkin. Often used as sustainable food sources, the bright orange flesh could be roasted, baked, parched, boiled or dried. No throwing out pumkpkin seeds either—they makes good snacks and are often used for medical purposes. As for the pumpkin blossoms, they tossed them into stews.
Moving on to other uses—dried shell of pumpkin doubles up as bowls and containers. The dried husk was also used as template for cutting hair—great way to ensure a uniform cut. They even used pounded dried strips of pumpkin to make mats.
It was the native Americans who introduced pumpkins to the pilgrims. By the second Thanksgiving, pumpkins made its auspicious presence and from then on, no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without pumpkin, either as food or décor.
The bright orange flesh is a dead giveaway: it’s rich in an orange pigment called beta-carotene, part of a bigger group of antioxidants called carotenoids. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the small intestine. According to the American Cancer Society, vitamin A helps to promote healthy skin and mucous membranes, particularly those lining the nose and mouth. How? Vitamin A prevents cellular damage by nullifying the damaging effects of free radicals. So, if you’re looking for some natural ingredients to pamper your skin, consider pumpkin.
Since we’re on the subject of skin care, studies also suggest that beta-carotene may help to protect against sun sensitivity according to the University of Maryland Medical Studies. Another incentive to use pumpkin.
Vitamin C is a workhorse when it comes to protecting the body against damaging free radicals. Its fame in boosting immunity has won wide acclaim as well. According to the Institutes of Health, vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of tissues in the body including skin, ligaments, bone and teeth. Enlist the help of vitamin C, found abundantly in pumpkin (1 cup contains 11 g of vitamin C) to rejuvenate and enhance the appearance of your skin.
While vitamin A and C are water soluble, vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is essential in the maintenance of healthy skin. It also absorbs skin damaging ultra-violet lights, thereby preventing premature aging and age spots. According to Oregon State University, vitamin E may exert anti-inflammatory effects on skin.
Although zinc is primarily linked to its role in reducing risks of prostate cancer, it is an important mineral in promoting healthy skin. It helps to control oil production and acne may be an indication of zinc deficiency. Put the zinc in pumpkin to good use and while we're at it, health sources also reveal that pumpkin seeds have one of the highest concentration of zinc. Whether you slather on some soothing pumpkin mask or eat the seeds as a snack (nourishing your skin inside out), harness its skin-enhancing capabilities.
Now, that's you've been introduced to rather amazing pumpkin, let's make some pumpkin-to-goodness beauty fixes. Essentially, we use pumpkin puree--you can buy it in a can (organic is better) or you can make your own. It's not too difficult and you can always freeze leftover pumpkin puree for later use.
Pumpkin puree has great moisturizing power as it contains enzymes and antioxidants that offer dual action--they act as alpha hydroxyl acids which gently remove dead skin cells while at the same time nourishing the skin.
Moisturizing Face Mask
Tap into the exfoliating power of brown sugar and the nourishing prowess of pumpkin and sweet almond oil for soft clean skin:
- 2 tbs of pumpkin puree
- 1 tbs of brown sugar
- A few drops of sweet almond oil (or argan oil, avocado or olive)
Mix well, apply to skin and cleanse off after 10 to 15 minutes.
Another pumpkin mask recipe
Pumpkin Hair Mask
Is your dry hair, dull or lacking in hair appeal? If you’re bothered by your lackluster hair, indulge in this super-moisturizing hair mask made of simple ingredients.
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ½ cup of yogurt
- 1 tsp of jojoba oil
Simply mix ingredients, apply to hair and shampoo off after about half an hour. See the difference?
Is your skin crying out for attention? If it’s dry and dull, give it some attention with this rich moisturizing mask, sure to put the suppleness back. Coconut milk, long as used as skin moisturizer in Asia, has fatty acids to help to hydrate skin. When it comes to restoring natural moisture balance, castor oil is a natural choice, given the fact that it contains high levels of triglyceride fatty acids, vitamin E, antioxidants and minerals. As for the dash of cinnamon, let’s say it’s for purely aesthetic reasons—it smells good(plus it's antimicrobial) and enhances mood…great way to relax while nourishing your skin.
- ½ cup of pumpkin puree
- ½ cup of coconut milk
- 1 tbs of castor oil
- A dash of cinnamon
Mix well and apply generously to skin and massage. Rinse off in shower after 15 minutes. Pat dry.
How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree
If you've time to spare and love making things from scratch, make your own fresh pumpkin puree. The verdict is out as to whether it's better to make your own or just use the canned pumpkin puree. There are concerns regarding BPA found in canned goods but there are brands that are BPA-free. Canned pumpkin offers convenience and consistency of flavor and texture.
If you're quite the stickler for all things fresh, have fun trying this:
- Split pumpkin into half
- Scoop out seeds and stringy fibers with a sturdy metal spoon.
- Lay the two halves in a roasting pan, cut-side down.
- Add one cup of water
- Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit until tender, about 90 minutes
- Remove flesh from skin and puree in food processor.
Fresh pumpkin can be kept in refrigerator for up to one week. Just make sure you store it in tightly sealed container. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
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