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Give thanks for the humble spud

Is a Solution for:
Dry Skin, Oily Skin
November 25, 2009 Reviewed by admin 3 Comments
Better known as a starchy side dish than a skincare ingredient, potatoes are a turkey's most loyal posse on the Thanksgiving table. But do they also warrant a place in your cosmetics? Potatoes are stuffed with benefits to help you achieve clearer and younger-looking skin. Its abundant vitamins and minerals (potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B, and vitamin C among them) can be just as nourishing for your skin as your body. Should you be telling your skin to eat its veggies too?

Believe it or not, your skin may already be consuming potatoes behind your back. A couple of popular ingredients in skincare products are derived from the humble potato. Maltodextrin, a polysaccharide extracted from potatoes (as well as rice and corn), binds to other compounds and helps stabilize cosmetic formulas. But its uses don't stop there. In 2002, Unilever filed a patent submitting that maltodextrin enhances the anti-aging activity of hydroxy acids and reduces skin irritation associated with weak carboxylic acids.

Another cosmetic component that can have roots in the potato are glycoproteins, created when a protein links with a carbohydrate. These cell-to-cell communicators play a critical role in stimulating and renewing cells damaged from environmental stresses. Though glycoproteins are listed in such anti-wrinkle products as John Masters Organics Mandarin Maximum Moisture and Bliss The Youth As We Know It Concentrate, there is no definitive evidence that these cell-stimulating ingredients work when applied topically.

Sweet potatoes deliver 800% of the daily recommended value of beta carotene, which synthesizes glycoproteins in the body, thus accelerating skin renewal. Studies have shown that eating sweet potatoes can translate to a smoother complexion in the long term. But can it deliver the same results when applied to the skin? Yes to Carrots seems to think so, having tossed a large serving of sweet potato extract in its Body Butter formula. There is no reason to think that it wouldn't give the body antioxidant benefits, since a Japanese study found that the flavonoid content in the purple sweet potato showed stronger free radical-scavenging activity than red cabbage, grape skin, elderberry, and purple corn.

If you like to get creative in the kitchen, the starch from potatoes can be used as a gluten-free thickener when cooking gravy or stew. It can also stand in as a colorless mattifying powder for oily skin. Unlike minerals such as talc, mica, zinc, and titanium dioxide, potato flour doesn't deactivate sunscreen components, namely avobenzone. It is also superior to talc because it won't block pores, irritate skin, or put you at risk for cancer. But if your skin is suffering a breakout, potato juice has been used as a natural remedy for treating blemishes.

There are so many ways to whip up a potato besides mashing and baking. The common potato contains an enzyme called catecholase, a known skin lightener. Though it won't make a drastic difference on your freckles (since its potency only goes so far), folk remedies claim that it can effectively brighten the complexion, particularly the eye area. A good treatment is to pulverize a raw potato in a food processor, wrap the potato pulp in cheesecloth, let it sit over your eyes for ten to fifteen minutes, and then wipe away the starchy residue to reveal less prominent under-eye shadows. Taking into account how well oily skin responds to this root vegetable, Philip B incorporated russet potato in one of our favorite DIY recipes: the rosemary and wheat germ toner.

Raw potatoes contain many proteins consisting of amino acid sequences, some of which are seen as hostile by the body and trigger an assault of immune responses against them (otherwise known as allergic reactions). Patatin, also found in tomatoes, is one of the most notorious allergens associated with atopic dematitis, though it has been found partially stable to digestion. If you have sensitive skin or food allergies, stick to cooked potatoes since they seem to lack the presence of certain heat-labile allergens, and do a patch test if your cosmetics tout a potato-derived ingredient. Otherwise, this year try having your turkey and your skin cream with a side of potatoes.
  • February 20, 2014

    by Fasia

    Titanium dioxide (is a sunscreen) - Inert earth mineral used as a thickening, whitening, lubricating, and sunscreen ingredient in cosmetics. It protects skin from UVA and UVB radiation and is considered to have no risk of skin irritation (Source: Skin Therapy Letter, 1997, volume 2, number 5)

    Please ensure thoroughness/exactness when listing items.

  • March 13, 2011

    by m wheeler


  • November 25, 2009

    by Angela

    Another great article, Copley. I think I'll be increasing my intake of sweet potatoes both internally and externally. The cooking school I attended had a class in kitchen pharmacy and one of the remedies was grated raw potato to treat eczema, though I have no first-hand knowledge of its efficacy as eczema is one of the few skin problems I do not suffer from.

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