These days, I have to do a double take when I open my skin-care cabinet to make sure I’m not actually opening a refrigerator. From apples to citrus to strawberries to pineapples, there are enough fruit-based actives in my current product arsenal to rival the Sunday farmer’s market. And for good reason: Fruits, in general, are packed with antioxidants, which means slathering them onto your skin offers a whole slew of benefits, including pollution protection and anti-aging. Plus, since many of nature’s candies tend to be packed with water, they also happen to extra-hydrating, too.
We all know that we need our daily serving of fruits (and veggies) in our diets, and our skin-care routines deserve the same treatment for optimal health. But instead of choosing just one ingredient to add to your arsenal, why not turn it into a full-on fruit salad? Here, we’ve got all the luminance-boosting products to help you do it.
This skin care is bananas, b-a-n-a…you get the idea. “Since bananas are power packed with essential vitamins such as B3, B5, B6 and vitamin C, they produce fabulous results in keeping the skin healthy and fresh,” says dermatologist Karen Hammerman, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Garden City, New York. “The vitamin A in bananas helps to restore skins moisture and treat dullness, dryness and damages skin.” Because they’re made up of 75 percent water, they make great hydrators for dry skin.
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In today’s edition of: “Let’s count all of the ways in which avocado is amazing,” everyone’s favorite toast-topper also happens to be great for your skin. “Avocado is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats,” says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, the medical director of Mudgil Dermatology. “This helps your skin cells fight toxins and stay hydrated.” Because of this, you’ll often see avocado touted as an ingredient in moisturizers, eye creams, and sleep masks.
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Though tomato may be the most un-fruit like of the fruit family, it shouldn’t be discounted when it comes to talking about its skin benefits. “Tomato-based products help the skin oxygenate to reduce wrinkles and the effects of aging,” says Dr. Hammerman. Tomatoes are loaded with carotenoids like lycopene (which offers major antioxidant activity), lutein, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene, plus vitamin E, vitamin C, and flavonols. “Lycopene protects against ultraviolet radiation and the resulting sun damage, and reducing oxidative damage means healthier skin renewal,” says Dr. Hammerman. Tomatoes are also naturally acidic, which helps rid skin of acne-causing oils, and acts as a moisturizer, so instead of drying things out, they’ll leave skin soothed and hydrated.
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Last summer, the skin-care aisle was suddenly packed with watermelon, and for good reason. “Watermelon is packed with antioxidants, which helps your skin combat toxins,” explains Dr. Mudgil. “It’s also a mild exfoliator, which is great for the acne-prone.” Plus, you know, it’s also a really pretty pink color, and the perfect snack.
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Not only are they delicious on top of Greek yogurt, but raspberries are full of antioxidants, plus omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. “These are very beneficial for various skin problems like eczema and psoriasis,” says Dr. Hammerman. “Red raspberries contain anthocyanins, which are responsible for the beautiful color of raspberries and they do the same with your skin also by providing a smooth, glowy complexion.” Raspberry leaves have skin-tightening properties, and the berries themselves have an astringent quality that helps shrink pores and make skin appear tighter.
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Cheesy, but true: An apple a day keeps the skin issues away. “Apples are full of antioxidants, which help the skin combat toxins,” says Dr. Mudgil. “Apples are also slightly acidic, which helps balance our skin’s pH and has astringent properties, which is good for the acne prone.”
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You probably know from being force-fed orange juice when you were sick that citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C. “Citrus fruit is a great example of a fruit that is loaded with skin-protective antioxidants and also has a high water content, which helps keep the skin’s barrier hydrated and more resistant to wrinkle-causing free-radical damage from the sun and daily pollution,” says Dr. Hammerman. Plus, this sweet stuff helps promote the production of collagen, which reduces wrinkles and makes skin look younger and more supple. That’s not all: “Citrus fruits like grapefruit have excellent astringent and exfoliating properties that are perfect for oily or acne-prone skin,” explains Dr. Hammerman. “It also increases the pH of the skin, which may reduce acne.” If you’ve got rosacea, though, use with caution—citrus may irritate your situation.
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If you’re looking for something to brighten and exfoliate all at once, look no further than pineapple, which will leave your skin with the ultimate glow. “Because of its rich concentration of AHAs, pineapple juice is an amazing exfoliant,” says Dr. Mudgil. “It’s great for acne-prone skin and those with pigment issues or dark spots.” It’s also rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, for an added boost of radiance.
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Strawberry may not get quite the same amount of credit as citrus, but it’s got its own fair share of vitamin C magic. It’s slightly less acidic than what you’d find in an orange, so leaves skin a bit more hydrated. “Strawberries, or fragriaria chiloensis extract, is a wonderful hydrator due to the high amount of carbohydrates it contains and skin protectants due the antioxidants,” says Dr. James Heskett, holistic MD, author of The Well Path and consultant for HydroPeptide. “It contains alpha lipoic acid which is a potent antioxidant that slows the aging of collagen and elastin. Also it has great vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant as well as being a key player in collagen synthesis.”
To complete your skin-care cabinet’s transformation into a full-on fruit salad, try one of these other unexpected sources of vitamin C. Plus, the derm-approved drugstore beauty products our editors love.