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Research comparing 40 different fruits for the recommended daily intake percentage of nine vitamins plus potassium and fiber rated papayas first. Papayas also rank first among fruit in terms of its content of vitamin C, an antioxidant essential for the maintenance of collagen, which is responsible for your skin’s youthful resiliency. Those two facts alone make papaya a beauty food nonpareil. But it also contains an enzyme that makes it an excellent ingredient in this rejuvenating facemask.

1/2 papaya — can be unripe
1/4 cup sparkling or tap water
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Directions: Peel papaya, cut into cubes, place in blender, puree well, add baking soda and water. Apply sparingly to skin and remove immediately if stinging or burning occurs. Leave on no longer than 2 minutes. Rinse face thoroughly to minimize overexposure to exfoliating enzymes. Pat dry. Follow with green tea toner and your favorite moisturizer.

Papain is a peptidase enzyme that works to break down dead, proteinaceous matter, which on your face consists of the outer layer of dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores and dulling your complexion. Just because this exfoliating mask is packaged by Mother Nature rather than in some cosmetics lab doesn’t mean it won’t do the job — in fact, it’s so effective that those with dry, sensitive skin might want to avoid it.

Keep in mind: The riper the fruit, the higher the papain content, so if you’re using extremely ripe fruit you may want to compensate by using a bit more baking soda, which helps to neutralize the acidity. Make sure to leave on your face no more than a minute or two, and remove immediately if any stinging occurs.

Published September 7, 2004

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