eggs

With Easter upon us, there is no better time to consider eggs as part of your beauty routine. For centuries egg yolk oil has been used for hair and skincare. Eggs are supposed to actually help hair grow, heal burns with magical rapidity and even act as a sunscreen. No yolk, the versatile egg could help you crack the secret of good skin (sorry!).

The thing about eggs is that they have components that are close to those in human skin. The composition of fatty acids in eggs is close to that of human blood lipids. Oleic acid is present at about 37.5% with almost as much palmitic acid (35.7%). And there are other elements that make eggs an antioxidant powerhouse.

Lecithin is a major component. This is an antioxidant and may also make egg a good team player in a jar of cosmetic cream since it acts as an emulsifier and humectant. Two other key nutrients of an egg are choline and lutein. Choline is a member of the B vitamin family, helps make up fatty portions of cell membranes and is essential for healthy skin-cell functioning. Choline also helps your body maintain proper levels of other B vitamins. Your skin needs B vitamins to manufacture collagen and elastin, to keep the skin firm and smooth.

Lutein may prove to be an indispensible source of skin protection. According to a Harvard research team, it may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer and skin damage. Research on lutein has also been undertaken by the University of Naples in Italy. The study involved female Italians aged 25 to 50 who were given a topical formulation and an oral supplement of lutein each day over a 12-week period. Apparently, hydration increased by 60%, elasticity by 20%, superficial skin lipids by 50% and lipid oxidation was seen to decrease by 55%.

Everyone knows that eggs have cholesterol and this also useful because the skin's natural lipid barrier has cholesterol, which helps maintain proper functioning in the epidermis by retaining moisture levels and regulating cell activity. It works to strengthen the outer structure of the skin and protect it from dehydration.

A study from 2011 found that eggs have an impressive effect on treating burned and wounded skin, without scar tissue. The researchers seemed to be mystified as to how, concluding: “Although the egg yolk has many vital nutrients, but its exact mechanism in healing process is unknown.”

Egg yolk oil isn’t easy to come by, unless you live in Asia. In Japan, egg yolk from snapping turtles (of all things) are taken in oral supplement form (often with garlic). I haven't come across egg oil in a potion or lotion (I'd love to hear from anyone who has), but there are anti-aging cosmetics with eggy elements such as cholesterol (NeoStrata Lotion plus AHA 15) and lutein (Chella's Master Protocol). Another option is to raid the fridge and go DIY. For inspiration, try Vivawoman’s mask with eggs and Chinese red wine.

And, since it’s Easter weekend, there is always the option of munching on a chocolate egg. Dark chocolate is a potent antioxidant that fights free radicals (slowing down the aging process). It also contains a high level of flavonoids, which keep the heart healthy. Most recently, German researchers have found dark chocolate to even decrease the damaging effects of UV rays, making it a covetable sunscreen.