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Allure Magazine

Everyone has jack-o'-lanterns, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin-spice everything on the brain. And the orange stuff is turning up in a lot more than lattes: The ingredient is front and center on the labels of skin peels, masks, hand creams, body washes, and more. So what does pumpkin bring to your skin care? For starters, it's moisturizing. "Pumpkin-seed oil and pumpkin-seed extract can be very emollient," says Los Angeles–based dermatologist Jessica Wu, the author of Feed Your Face. "They help to repair your skin barrier and maintain moisture in the skin."

The ingredient is also often used in exfoliating products, but there isn't much science on how effective it is on that front. "Pumpkin extract contains proteases, a type of enzyme that helps dissolve protein, so the theory is that it can help exfoliate dead skin," says Wu. "But I haven't seen research showing that it actually does that." In fact, chances are, if you're using a pumpkin-based peel, other ingredients are actually the active exfoliants. "Commonly, pumpkin is combined with lactic, glycolic, or salicylic acid," says Wu. "Look at the labels on your pumpkin products—because those acids likely are the ones doing the heavy lifting."

Of course, you could always just eat it (the actual vegetable, that is; drinking a pumpkin-flavored latte doesn't count.) "Pumpkins contain high amounts of vitamin A—246 percent of the recommended daily allowance—in the form of beta carotene," says Jana Klauer, a New York City nutritionist, who recommends two to three servings of yellow or orange vegetables (that includes pumpkin) per day. "Beta carotene protects the skin against UV damage. And pumpkins contain vitamins C and E. These two work together as an antioxidant team to neutralize free radicals, helping to keep skin firm and with few wrinkles." And a few bites might even make your skin color more attractive: A recent study by researchers at Leeds University Business School and the University of St. Andrews showed that the golden skin color created by eating fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids (pumpkin is one) was rated more attractive than the unsafe glow of a suntan. At the very least, "If you eat more fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods in the name of vanity, that's a good thing," Wu says.

LINK: www.allure.com
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