Marmur Medical Blog

The Kitchen Cupboard Solution to Dry Skin

My mother is obsessed with skin. After some twenty-odd years of her influence, it is no wonder that I too am obsessed with skin. For years of my life, I have listened to her dos and don’ts of skincare including the Chinese housewives’ tales of what is good for your skin or what is not (many a time I have turned away food I didn’t want to eat just to hear, “Eat —— , it’s good for your skin”). Because of my science background and my need for evidence-based fact, I disregarded her opinions regarding congee and bird’s nest soup, thinking they were the stuff of legends, like golden peaches. However, though the verdict is still out on bird’s nest soup, there is a slew of new research that supports the consumption/direct application of many different types of food may have a role in promoting or hurting skin health.

For instance, I am afflicted with severely dry skin. The moment the wind hits or I get a little too much dry, desert sun, I feel my skin scrunching up in protest. Thankfully, there is a solution to this problem that does not include La Mer crème or a trip to the spa; this solution lies right next door to your own bathroom, in the kitchen! According to Dr. Ellen Marmur, there is a really simple home remedy to soothe dry skin in the form of an avocado facemask. Her recipe is as follows:

An entire avocado (halved, with the flesh scooped out including the green pulp at the edge of the skin which contains the most nutrients)

1 tablespoon of honey

Facecloth soaked in cool green tea

Mash the avocado and honey together in a bowl until a nice consistency for facial application is reached
Apply the mixture to the dry skin (face, arms, torso, legs, back)
Place the cool, green-tea soaked towel over the mask to hold everything in place
Leave for 10 minutes
Repeat three times a week

It is great to know there is something out there that won’t put a hole into my rather threadbare, student pockets, but what makes this face mask tick? What makes it work in lieu of using an expensive, brand-name skin cream? Firstly, avocados are like nature’s own experiment into “how much of a good thing is too much”. These fruits (newsflash: avocados are a fruit) contain omega-3 fatty acids (the good type of monounsaturated fat), beta-carotene, lutein, vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, selenium, zinc, copper, iron, folate, glutathione, biotin and the list continues. The amount of nutrition packed into one little avocado does wonders for one’s skin. Biotin helps with collagen production to keep skin elasticity at its best. Copper is a key component necessary for melanin production (the molecule that gives skin, hair and irises their colours). Vitamins E and A, found in the oil, help cellular regeneration. Sterolin reduces acne, sun and scar damage. Iron helps to defend against free radicals produced by radiation and toxic chemicals. The natural oils found in the avocado moisturize skin, combating dryness and allowing skin time to replenish its own oil supplies. Talk about one multi-tasking fruit!

Honey is known as a humectant; that is, it has a property that attracts and retains moisture. This means that honey is a great addition to any remedy for dry skin. In addition, honey is an antioxidant, fighting the hard fight and protecting our skin from free radicals. Furthermore, honey is a natural antimicrobial and application to dry/damaged skin may promote wound healing whilst preventing infection.

The caffeine found in green tea, just as it wakes you up, has properties that “liven-up” skin. Due to its vasoconstrictive properties, caffeine de-puffs, tightens and reduces redness in skin. Furthermore, as if we needed another reason to get a caffeine fix, recent studies have shown caffeine to be an antioxidant. When applied to the skin, researchers found that caffeine may actually reduce the chances of developing sun-related skin damage!

So now is your chance to use those kitchen ingredients to their fullest advantage. And remember, if you have a little extra honey and green tea, you can always make a nice, relaxing cup to enjoy while basking in the glory of your home-made face mask. From our kitchen to yours, here’s to enjoying beautiful skin.

Written by:
Margit Lai Wun Juhasz
Mount Sinai Medical Student