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Papaya: Nature’s Skin-Brightening Superstar


The world’s natural elements have been used in skincare since well, basically the beginning of time. Fruits often top the list as hero ingredients, and thanks to scientific advancements, cosmetic formulations have become more and sophisticated over time, harnessing even more of these ingredients’ skin-beautifying powers.

Papaya is a perfect example of this. The fruit is a key ingredient in a handful of bareMinerals products, including our CLAY CHAMELEON Cleanser and BAREPRO Liquid Foundation (which brings together skincare benefits and performance wear coverage). To better acquaint you with this wonder ingredient, we asked experts to weigh in on its primary benefits. We’ve also outlined which skin types benefit most from incorporating papaya into their regimen.

Papaya: A Skin Brightening Hero

Though the juice, pulp, and seeds of a papaya can be utilized for skincare purposes, the peel, and the area surrounding the peel, are the real money makers of this fruit.

“For maximum skin benefit, the peel of the papaya is more beneficial for your skin rather than the pulp of the fruit. This is because the peel contains the highest concentration of papain, [a proteolytic enzyme],” explains Dr. Michele Green, a cosmetic dermatologist based in New York City. “This enzyme contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) which are effective in helping cell turnover via chemical exfoliation.” Papain is a superstar when it comes to sloughing off dead skin cells and help usher in new ones for a brighter, more youthful-looking, ultra-glowy complexion.

“Think of your skin as layers of tile floors. Papain melts the grout between the tiles, allowing old tiles to float off and new tiles to come forward,” explains Tiffany Bioski, a licensed esthetician and cosmetologist based in Atlanta, GA. “This process removes excess build up in the pores and lightens the look of hyperpigmentation.”

The good doesn’t stop there. Papaya is also rich in antioxidants — vitamins A, C, and E — which means it helps shield skin from free radical damage, thereby helping curb visible signs of premature aging such as fine lines and laxity. The fruit also contains pantothenic acid, folate, magnesium, and potassium which help nourish the skin.

“All this means papaya is one of the best fruits to incorporate into your skincare regime for glowing, toned and younger looking skin,” says Bioski.

Skin Types That Benefit Most from Papaya

Dr. Green says that anyone who wants a glowing complexion can benefit from skincare products made with papaya. That includes those who have an uneven skin tone, a lackluster or dull complexion, and those with dry, dehydrated skin. It’s also an excellent ingredient to reach for if you have mature skin.

“As we age, our cells don’t slough off quite as quickly as they once did. Dehydration tends to increase, and we can sometimes lose the radiance and rosiness of our youth. Physical exfoliants — like scrubs, beads, and brushes — can become too harsh as our skin becomes thinner or compromised due to dehydration,” says Bioski. “In these cases, I recommend adding an enzyme exfoliant — such as papain — since this form of exfoliation is generally gentler on the ecosystem of the skin.”