Tropical Skin Care: Using Local Fruits and Flowers for Naturally Beautiful SkinMay 25, 2022 11:31AM ● By TANIS RHINES
The abundance and diversity of flora is easy to see in Southwest Florida and its surrounding tropical locales such as the Keys, Bahamas, and Caribbean. With more than 400,000 types of flowering plants on the planet, there are certainly many different botanicals that can be incorporated into your skin-care routine, with benefits ranging from moisturization to exfoliation and even helping to ward off disease. Where there are flowers, then fruits, nuts, and seeds are sure to follow, increasing the variety of natural ingredients that boost the beautifying power of botanical-based products. Here are a few tantalizing tropical plants worthy of incorporating into your skin-care routine.
Imagine being recruited into the Royal Navy back in 1747. You board the ship feeling in top form only to be stricken down in a few months to a wobbly waterman. Your gums are bleeding, your teeth are falling out, and your legs are swollen and purple with bruising. You have mates on the ship who are in the same condition as you, or worse, so the crew’s Dr. James Lind takes an interest in this swabby sickness. By feeding the sailors different types of food and liquids, he quickly discovers that the men who were lucky enough to have been given two oranges and one lemon per day were miraculously mended. If you haven’t guessed by now, these sailors were suffering from the disease known as scurvy, and the vitamin C in the citrus cured them. The Royal Navy then began making sure that all its sailors had plenty of limes during each voyage, thus preventing this deadly disease and bestowing upon them the nickname “limeys”!
But what does this have to do with great-looking skin? The manufacturing of collagen, the protein that gives skin its firmness and elasticity, depends on many nutritional factors, including the critical vitamin C. Without it, that mess of mariners could not produce collagen and were literally jiggling apart.
When you consider that the levels of collagen in the skin decline at a rapid rate after menopause (approximately 30 percent is gone after the first five years), then helping to support its production by adding this mighty vitamin to your intake makes sense. Vitamin C is simply necessary for a firm face.
Key limes can be incorporated into your daily routine by not only including them in your diet, but also using skin-care products that contain this intense form of vitamin C. A favorite is Key Lime Florida Glow Body Oil by Florida Salt Scrubs. The coconut oil and key lime essential oil in this body moisturizer helps soothe sun-kissed skin while keeping it firm and tight.
Sunshine, abundant rainfall, and a tolerance for salty soil allows the coconut (not actually a nut, but a drupe) to thrive in many tropical regions. In the Caribbean, it not only serves as a container for frozen adult beverages, but also lies at the heart of the culture and is incorporated into many delicious dishes and folk-medicine practices addressing skin ailments ranging from dandruff to dermatitis. Research indicates that these traditional remedies are noteworthy, as the high lauric acid content of the oil has been shown to kill the microorganisms that cause acne, athlete’s foot, and folliculitis. Its high anti-inflammatory and moisturization properties can help ease the irritation caused by psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and eczema. When applied topically, the antioxidant power of virgin coconut oil in conjunction with its ability to increase collagen production can aid in skin repair and recovery from overexposure to the sun… not to mention giving skin a firm appearance, radiant glow, and pleasing tropical aroma.
The orchid is not only intriguing to look at, but also has been referred to as “the perfect plant for skin,” as all varieties are mineral-rich, including zinc, which boosts skin health. Rich in anthocyanins, orchid extract helps protect skin from environmental stressors by scavenging reactive oxygen species up to four times greater than vitamins C and E. It’s a great anti-pollution solution, reducing fine lines and other signs of aging while boosting moisture content of the skin.
Papaya and Pineapple
Dubbed the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus, papaya has a digestive enzyme called papain that is not only used as a meat tenderizer, but will also quickly exfoliate unwanted dead skin cells, unclogging pores and revealing a fresh dewy glow. Pineapple also possesses an exfoliating enzyme called bromelain that helps to brighten skin and even out skin tone. Its high antioxidant activity prevents pollution damage, helping skin to age well.
The Caribbean Island of St. Kitts is known for people with beautiful skin, and their No. 1 beauty secret lies within the hibiscus flower. Hibiscus extract contains high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants, such as flavonoids, in addition to having some antibacterial properties. It inhibits elastin degradation, helping to maintain the skin’s elasticity and consequent anti-aging effects. Made into a tea or mixed into skin-care products, hibiscus is useful for targeting skin tone and cellulite, and it can also increase circulation in skin for a healthy glow.
By incorporating these local tropical delights into your beauty routine, you can develop healthy skin habits by using nature’s offerings to look and feel gorgeous… naturally.
Tanis Rhines is a cellular and molecular scientist turned esthetician. She is the author of the irreverent esthetic exposé, Face It! Harsh Skincare Truths Every Esthetician Should Know... And So Should You.