Of all the things you can do with a ripe, red tomato -- pair it with mozzarella cheese, construct a killer BLT, chop it up in a salsa -- the least obvious choice would be smearing the pulp on your face. Yet medical heavyweights report that fresh tomatoes are loaded with components that may help you stop acne in its tracks. You can pump up the zit-fighting ability of tomato pulp by combining it with a few other kitchen staples in a simple home remedy. To be on the safe side, check with your dermatologist before using the tomato pulp remedy.
What's in It
The secret acne-fighting ingredient in tomato pulp is lycopene, the plant pigment -- or carotenoid -- that is responsible for giving tomatoes their fire-engine-red coloration. Lycopene has shown cancer-fighting effects in animal studies, and is included in many skincare products. Other antioxidants in tomatoes include lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamins A and C.
Why You Should Use It
In a 2010 review published in "Lipids in Health and Disease," researchers examined the factors that cause acne, and noted that lipid peroxidation was an early step on the road to pimples. Although lipid peroxidation may sound like a method of lightening your hair, it is actually a process that can trigger the development of acne by creating an environment in your follicles that encourages the growth of inflammation-causing bacteria. Lycopene's antioxidant effects can scavenge free radicals and help to prevent lipid peroxidation. As if that weren't reason enough to use tomato pulp, it has astringent properties that can help remove excess oils from skin.
How to Use It
You can whip up a tomato pulp treatment for acne blemishes by simply mashing up a ripe, chopped tomato. Spa Index recommends adding 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon uncooked oatmeal to the mixture. Apply the mixture to blemished skin and leave in place for 10 minutes, then remove it with a clean, damp washcloth and warm -- never hot -- water. Aside from tomato pulp's beneficial lycopenes, this remedy benefits from lemon juice -- a natural antimicrobial agent -- and oatmeal, which can soothe inflamed skin and has cleansing and exfoliating effects. Dr. Howard Donsky, staff dermatologist at Toronto General Hospital, says oatmeal functions as a natural soap.
Apply a small amount of the tomato pulp mixture to your wrist before use to make sure you're not allergic to any of the ingredients. If you experience itching or reddened or inflamed skin, stop using the treatment. Avoid your eye area when applying the tomato pulp. If it does get in your eyes, rinse them well with cool water. And before you consider using that slightly furry tomato at the back of the crisper, consider Spa Index's rule of thumb about ingredients: If you wouldn't eat it, don't use it on your skin. Use fresh ingredients only.