From your Starbucks latte to the orange-laced displays at your local grocery store, it’s official: Pumpkin spice season is officially upon us. What you may not realize, however, is that this iconic American fruit (yes, it’s technically a fruit!) has some serious beauty skin benefits.
“Pumpkin contains enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids that increase cell turnover, brighten and smooth skin, and are great exfoliaters,” explains New York dermatologist, Patricia Wexler, M.D. Vitamins A and C help prevent free-radical damage and boost collagen production for younger-looking skin. The zinc in pumpkin seeds is good for acne to help decrease oil production, while the essential fatty acids help with barrier function to increase hydration, she adds.
The beloved fall gourd is even good for your strands. “The essential fatty acids and vitamins A, C, and E help increase the moisture of hair and maintain cell turnover of the scalp while healing inflammation,” says Wexler. And if you have an oily scalp, you’ll appreciate this—the zinc in pumpkin helps control the level of sebum, or oil, the scalp produces, says Wexler.
Ready to give pumpkin a go? Try these at-home recipes created by licensed esthetician Michelle Ornstein, who is also founder and formulator of Enessa Skincare. And if you’re not a DIY type, we’ve also suggested product versions you can nab on your next store or Sephora run.
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp manuka honey
Mix ingredients together. Apply a thin layer to skin, and rinse off after five minutes.
Turmeric powder helps brighten skin and heal inflammation associated with acne, while manuka honey is a humectant that provides moisturization and additional anti-acne properties, says Ornstein.
Product pick: MyChelle Dermaceuticals Incredible Pumpkin Peel, $28,
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup benzonite clay
1/4 cup chamomile tea
Mix ingredients together. Apply a thick layer to skin. Wait 60 seconds, and then massage to exfoliate and rinse off.
The ground flaxseed is the secret ingredient here that washes off the dead skin cells that the pumpkin enzymes exfoliated off, says Ornstein.
Product pick: Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, $42,
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup jojoba oil
1/4 cup coffee grounds
1/4 cup Himalayan salt
Mix ingredients together. Use as a body scrub in the shower or bath.
Jojoba oil is super-nourishing and rich in antioxidants, making it a great carrier oil for a body scrub. Caffeine from coffee grounds helps smooth out skin and reduces the appearance of cellulite as a bonus. Pink Himalayan salt contains trace minerals that are beneficial for skin, says Ornstein.
Product pick: Bath & Body Works Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Shea & Sugar Body Scrub, $17,
1 Tbsp pumpkin seed oil
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup jojoba oil
5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
Mix ingredients together. This can be used as a scalp treatment or hair oil mask on clean hair. Allow it to sit for several minutes, then rinse out completely.
Coconut, eucalyptus, and lavender are all natural ingredients that help stimulate the scalp to protect against hair loss. Jojoba oil hydrates both the scalp and hair, says Ornstein.
Product pick: Sexy Hair Pumpkin Puree Treatment Masque, $25,