When we decide what to eat, we may think about our taste buds and our waistline, but we may not be thinking about our skin. Not only does eating affect the skin by improving general health, some of the foods we enjoy in the form of a meal may nourish our skin when applied topically and can even reverse the effects of aging, as well as clear up skin problems. With all of the money spent on exotic lotions and skin treatments, it may be a refreshing change to reach for a moisturizer and skin toner from the refrigerator or shelf. However, with the many natural, active ingredients in store-bought creams and lotions featuring items like lemon, honey and tumeric, why not go straight to the source and use the actual fruits, vegetables or herbs in their natural form?
What Is Melasma?
Melasma is a skin problem that causes discolored areas on the skin. This condition is also called “the mask of pregnancy,” because it has been known to affect pregnant women as well as women who are undergoing hormone therapy and those who take oral or patch contraception. The discoloration involves tan or dark spots on lighter skin. These marks often appear on the cheek, forehead, upper lip, and the nose.
The discoloration is hard to get rid of and is caused by hormonal changes. The usual treatment for melasma is through oral medications or topical depigmenting agents. The lotions require avoiding direct sunlight and oral medications can cause side effects. Those who suffer from melasma search for natural alternatives that are cheaper, easy to take or apply and involve fewer side effects than traditional treatments. In addition, pregnant women may want to avoid taking straditional medications because of the unknown and possible effect on the fetus and may prefer to use herbs, vegetables, and fruits to treat the discolored spots on their skin.
The Fit Indian site describes homemade treatments for melasma. Those who feel frustrated with conventional medication for those stubborn spots may feel encouraged knowing that the ideal treatment for their skin condition may be right in the cupboard. In addition, many of the natural ingredients discussed have other benefits for the skin and general health.
Herbs that Treat Melasma
It isn’t surprising that tumeric is at the top of the list. This yellow herb is like gold for treating a host of conditions and is valuable in preventative medicine. Tumeric is featured in Ayurvedic medicine and is generally used to balance the skin tone as well as for general health as an anti-inflammatory agent and a remedy for hypertension. The active ingredient in tumeric that lightens darker spots is also an antioxidant that reduces wear and tear on the cells and removes toxins from the body. Tumeric not only smooths out the discoloration but keeps the skin pure an in a healthy condition to prevent the development of acne.
To use tumeric to treat melasma, make a paste by combining 5 tablespoons of tumeric with 10 tablespoons of millk. For a thicker paste, add a teaspoon of flour. Apply the paste to the affected area and let it dry. Rinse the area with warm water and massage the skin. This process can be repeated daily.
Combine Gotu Kola and Ginseng together to combat all kinds of skin irregularities, including discolored spots, scars, and other blemishes. In addition to having a distinctive, calming fragrance, sandalwood is used frequently for lightening the skin in creams. Mix together sandalwood, whole milk, tumeric powder, lemon juice and sandalwood for a paste that contains several ingredients that are effective in treating melasma. Use it as a facial mask to apply four times a week.
Vegetables that Treat Melasma
Your grandmother might have suggested putting slices of cucumber on your eyes to get rid of gray circles or dark bags after a sleepless night. Cucumber has long been prized for its ability to lighten skin. This watery vegetable hydrates the skin and removes dry areas as well as discoloration. Simply peel the cucumber, grate it and apply it to the discolored areas. Wash off after twenty minutes and repeat daily.
Onions have a multiplicity of health benefits for the immune system and its juice has a concentration of sulfur that removes melasma from the face. You can also use onion juice on pimples and other facial scars. To isolate the juice, crush pieces of onion to get the moisture out.
Fruits that Treat Melasma
You might have known someone growing up who used lemon juice to “cure” her freckles. While freckles are a different kind of pigmentation issue than melasma and less possible to remove, lemon is nature’s bleach and can help lighten discolored patches on the face and forehead. Rub lemon juice on your skin and leave it in for at least 20 minutes. Repeat this process several times a day. Apple cider adds tartness to salads, and it can also add vitality to the hair and the skin. Acetic acid is the active ingredient in apple cider vinegar that acts as a bleaching agent and removes spots
In the beauty section of the drugstore, you have probably seen lotions and conditioners that contain papaya as an ingredient. Some creams have only the fragrance of the tropical fruit, whereas others actually contain papaya as an ingredient. One way you can make sure you get the full benefit from this luscious fruit is to actually use papaya from your kitchen. Papaya is effective for general skin health and is often applied to the face in the form of a conditioning beauty mask. It also is effective in removing dead skin cells from the face. You can use papaya to create a more even skin tone. Mash the papaya together with honey and apply it to the skin for 20 minutes.
Banana and Guava make a great team in moisturizing the skin and helping to smooth out discoloration. Guava contains lycopene which is effective in lightening blemishes.
Keeping the Spots Away
Treating the patches of discoloration that result from malasma may require repeated applications over a period of time. It is important to avoid or be aware of things that led to the condition in the first place. Excessive exposure to the light can cause uneven skin tone, so wear sunscreen if you go outside and make sure you have a visor or a hat to protect your face. Try to avoid stress which can cause a whole range of skin irregularities. You may not be able to reduce the amount of pressures on you at work, but try meditation and yoga as a way to unwind. If you take patch or oral contraceptives that may be causing spots due to hormonal changes, talk to your doctor about other forms of birth control that do not affect the hormones.
These kitchen preparations may not only be an effective way to treat the effects of malasma, but they are fun to make and may even give you inspiration on what to have for dinner.