Healthy Skin

9 Topical Uses For Food

The skin is referred to as the largest organ of the body as it covers the entire body, shielding and protecting it against injury, infection, heat, and light. As such the foods we eat play an important role in supplying the skin with the nutrients it needs to perform its functions optimally. Besides nourishing the skin through what is eaten, some foods can be applied directly on the skin to enhance skin health. The topical application of food on the skin for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes is not a new practice, but one that dates back to ancient times (1).

Topical uses for foods

  1. Moisturizes skin. Chai seeds mashed into a paste and applied to skin helps to moisturize the skin, preventing dryness and irritation (2). Coconut oil is also an excellent skin moisturizer reputed for hydrating very dry and sensitive skin types (3). Avocado also contains healthy fats that moisturizes the skin when mashed and applied as a mask on the face (4).

  2. Exfoliates the skin. Mashed pumpkin applied to skin exfoliates the skin and protects it from damage my ultraviolet light (5). Red dragon fruit and berries are reputed for making great body scrubs as they contain compounds that promote the removal of dead and dry skin cells. This permits the newer under skin to be exposed which is better looking and smooth (6). Yoghurt can also be used on the skin as the yoghurt contain lactic acid which works as a mild exfoliating agent for the skin (7).

  3. Heals skin. Citrus fruits like limes, and lemons show great antibacterial activities due to their very low pH range and acidic nature. Applying them on the skin surface helps to clean wounds and prefect bacteria growth that may worsen or slow down the healing of the wound (8). Honey has been used for decades as a natural remedy for treating wounds. Its acidic pH also bestows on it antimicrobial properties speeding the healing of wounds (9).

  4. Slows down aging. Cooked mashed carrots makes a great topical mask that can be applied regularly to help slow down the aging process. Carrots are loaded with antioxidants, which are naturally occurring plant substances that fight the detrimental effects of oxidative stress by capturing free radicals, that are implicated in excessive oxidation reactions in the body. Oxidative stress speeds up the aging process (10). Grounding oatmeal into flour and adding some honey to it also makes a good facial mask that helps to slow down signs of aging (11).

  5. Enhances skin elasticity. Adding cinnamon powder to facial mask enhances skin elasticity as cinnamon boosts collagen production, which is responsible for increasing skin elasticity and bounce (12).

  6. Fights acne. Apple cider vinegar naturally contains alpha-hydroxy making it an excellent facial cleaning liquid. It removes dirt and grime that accumulates on the face during the course of the day, as well as shrinks pores, thus reducing the emergence of acne. Alpha-hydroxy acid also helps to rejuvenates skin that has suffered damage from photoaging (13)

  7. Reduces inflammation. Foods like cucumber, turmeric and green tea amongst others have been shown to have anti-inflammatory activities. Topical application of turmeric ointment for example has been reported to significantly reduce knee pain in some studies (14).

  8. Better blood circulation. Coffee and cocoa powder lessens visibility of veins on the surface of the skin. The flavanols in cocoa increase the production of nitric acid in the body which causes a widening effect on the arteries, easing blood flow and blood circulation throughout the body (15).

  9. Removes/reduces dark spots. Turmeric reduces dark spots and evens out skin discolorations and hyperpigmentation (16). Lemon also supplies vitamin C to the body and lightens up dark spots (17).


Foods have great effects when they are eaten, as well as when they are topically used on the body. Depending on the need at hand, you can decide to topically apply your food and grab the benefits thereof.



  1. Schagen, S. K., Zampeli, V. A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(3), 298–307. doi:10.4161/derm.22876

  2. Huber, K. L., Fernández, J. R., Webb, C., Rouzard, K., Healy, J., Tamura, M., … Pérez, E. (2020). HYVIATM: A novel, topical chia seed extract that improves skin hydration. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 19(9), 2386–2393. doi:10.1111/jocd.13469

  3. Aziz, A. &., Sarmidi, M. &., Aziz, R., & Mohamed Noor, N. (2013). The Effect of Virgin Coconut Oil Loaded Solid Lipid Particles (VCO-SLPs) on Skin Hydration and Skin Elasticity. Jurnal Teknologi, 62, 39–43.

  4. Formulation and evaluation of exfoliating facial scrub containing avocado and almond extract Mrinal Pramod Bhise*, Amol Ashok Dakare, Kalyani Nandkumar Bondre. (n.d.). Karan Somnath Bhosale, Omkar Prabhakar Chile, Rohan V.; Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India.

  5. Balgoon, M. J., Al-Zahrani, M. H., Jaouni, S. A., & Ayuob, N. (2021). Combined oral and topical application of pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) alleviates contact dermatitis associated with depression through downregulation pro-inflammatory cytokines. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 12, 663417. doi:10.3389/fphar.2021.663417

  6. Taliana, L. (2020). Facial Skin Health: Antioxidant Facial Scrub from Red Dragon Fruit Extract. Journal of Asian Multicultural Research for Medical and Health Science Study, 1(2), 1–5. doi:10.47616/jamrmhss.v1i2.28

  7. Yeom, G., Yun, D.-M., Kang, Y.-W., Kwon, J.-S., Kang, I.-O., & Kim, S. Y. (2011). Clinical efficacy of facial masks containing yoghurt and Opuntia humifusa Raf. (F-YOP). Journal of Cosmetic Science, 62(5), 505–514.

  8. Al-Qudah, T. S., Zahra, U., Rehman, R., Majeed, M. I., Sadique, S., Nisar, S., … Tahtamouni, R. W. (n.d.). Lemon as a source of functional and medicinal ingredient: A review. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from website:

  9. Yupanqui Mieles, J., Vyas, C., Aslan, E., Humphreys, G., Diver, C., & Bartolo, P. (2022). Honey: An advanced antimicrobial and wound healing biomaterial for tissue engineering applications. Pharmaceutics, 14(8), 1663. doi:10.3390/pharmaceutics14081663

  10. Varshney, K., & Mishra, K. (2022). An analysis of health benefits of carrot. International Journal of Innovative Research in Engineering & Management, 211–214. doi:10.55524/ijirem.2022.9.1.40

  11. Khader, V., Farhan, J., Ali, J., Iqubal, M. K., & Narang, J. K. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2022, from website:

  12. Takasao, N., Tsuji-Naito, K., Ishikura, S., Tamura, A., & Akagawa, M. (2012). Cinnamon extract promotes type I collagen biosynthesis via activation of IGF-I signaling in human dermal fibroblasts. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 60(5), 1193–1200. doi:10.1021/jf2043357

  13. Bergfeld, W. F. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2022, from website:

  14. Jamali, N., Adib-Hajbaghery, M., & Soleimani, A. (2020). The effect of curcumin ointment on knee pain in older adults with osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo trial. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 20(1), 305. doi:10.1186/s12906-020-03105-0

  15. Ried, K., Fakler, P., & Stocks, N. P. (2017). Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4(5), CD008893. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008893.pub3

  16. Hollinger, J. C., Angra, K., & Halder, R. M. (2018). Are natural ingredients effective in the management of hyperpigmentation? A systematic review. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 11(2), 28–37.

  17. Leonard, J. (2022, February 28). How to get rid of dark spots on black skin. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from website:


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