Move Over Coconut Oil, Papaya Is Here

I love a tropical treat--especially one that works magic on my skin and hair.
Publish date:
July 25, 2014
health, vitamin c, hair care, skincare, carotenoids, papaya, pawpaw

Aside from being absolutely delicious, tropical fruits contain important, health boosting components, such as vitamins, enzymes, minerals, phytochemicals (like carotenoids), and terpenes.

The brightly colored papaya fruit, also known as papaw or pawpaw, contains high levels of vitamin C and carotenoids; these ingredients work synergistically to boost beauty from the inside out.

Papayas originated in Central America, but are now cultivated in most tropical countries on five continents. In traditional medicine, the fleshy, heavily seeded orange fruit is used as a parasite fighter, malaria killer, and potential contraceptive (kids, don't try this at home). Its skin produces a substance called papain, which is an enzyme that has wide uses in healthcare, cooking, and beauty. Here are some of the ways you can get on the papaya train.

1. Buy It In Tube Form

A fermented paste of papaya is often mixed into a remedy known as papaw ointment for cuts, acne, and even face moisturizer. The most ubiquitous example of this is Lucas Papaw Ointment, which uses petroleum jelly. However, you can find other pawpaw ointments made with natural oils and butters if you so desire. Suvana makes a good Paw Paw & Honey Organic Lip Balm that's available at Spirit Beauty Lounge.

2. Eat It Straight Or As A Delicious Condiment

A Filipino condiment called atchara, made with papaya, vinegar, ginger, and spices, is a good way to get some papaya in at mealtime. Comparable to kimchi and sauerkraut, atchara is a probiotic-packed accoutrement that helps keep your intestinal system running smoothly. (It's traditionally eaten at holiday meals to aid in digestion.) You can order it at Tropical Traditions, which is also a great source for super high quality coconut oil in bulk.

Straight papaya fruit is also beneficial to digestion and overall health. All of the wonderful nutrients get absorbed to help clear skin, battle UV rays, and boost hydration. The naturally occurring papain and alpha hydroxy acids exfoliate, moisturize, and add vital nutrients to skin.

3. DIY That Miracle Fruit Ish

When used on hair, papaya helps exfoliate the scalp to remove dead skin and product buildup while adding volume and softening hair. And I don't have to tell you how great vitamin C is for your skin.

For these DIY hair and face masks, you can use ripe, raw papaya. You don't have to use a blender, but I recommend it to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed.

Papaya Face Mask Ingredients:

Handful of papaya, mashed

1 tsp. Manuka honey

2 tbs. plain yogurt

1 capsule flax oil or evening primrose oil

The combination of lactic acid, l-ascorbic acid, carotenoids, and fatty acids pair with the naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide in the honey to make a super vitamin-charged yet light exfoliator.

Papaya Hair Mask Ingredients:

½ ripe avocado

Few chunks of papaya

¼ cup yogurt or 1 egg

This mask uses avocado’s oleic acid, papaya’s AHA, and panthenol to exfoliate the scalp, soften hair strands, and temporarily fill in gaps in the cuticle. You may want to shampoo and condition gently after this one, since it’s more of a pre-shampoo treatment.

If you don’t feel like DIYing, there are a few papaya-fueled skin and hair products you can grab. Does anyone remember Freeman’s Papaya Shampoo and Conditioner? It still exists and it's crazy-cheap! You can also try TIGI S Factor if you prefer high-end or professional products.

For face, there is Kiehl’s Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub and Alba Botanica Papaya Enzyme Facial Mask.

You don’t have to be in the tropics to get a taste of papaya in your skin care routine!

Do you like papaya? Like, in a bowl with a spoon? What papaya beauty products have you tried and liked?

Photos: Darnell Scott