It's decorative gourd season! After you've loaded your TJ's cart full of pumpkin products (that pumpkin butter is the truth), downed your umpteenth PSL, and painted your gourd gold for the 'gram... pumpkin season is basically over, right?
Not so fast! There's more pumpkin can do besides add some fall zest to caffeinated beverages. These days, pumpkin is sneaking its way into beauty products like face masks and moisturizers, and for good reason: It turns out, pumpkin contains a ton of vitamins and minerals that can do wonders for your skin long after Halloween passes.
Here's a look at why pumpkin is worth a try and a few products to look out for when you're ready to go orange (no, they won't actually turn your skin orange—that would be super bad).
Au Naturel AHAs
When it comes to skin exfoliants, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic and salicylic acid are popular choices for removing layers of dead skin cells, treating acne, and lightening acne scars. If you're afraid to put synthetic acids on your skin, though, or they don't work for you, pumpkin is a natural alternative that can offer some of the same benefits.
"Pumpkin is a great secret weapon against skin problems," says Judith Hellman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "It's rich in AHAs, which help skin turnover for brighter and smoother skin."
That turnover can mean other benefits as well—especially if your skin is prone to breakouts. "AHAs act as an exfoliant that helps with anti-aging, including reducing fine lines, and also helps reduce the comedones (bumps) of acne-blackheads and whiteheads," adds Robin Evans, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Stamford, Connecticut.
Your Skin Needs Vitamins Too
Pumpkin is a nutritional powerhouse, which is a smart reason to enjoy it in everything you eat and drink come fall. One of the top reasons it's so nutritionally sound is that it is chock-full of vitamins A and C and zinc, which can also do wonders when applied to your skin.
"Vitamin A is helpful for acne," notes Evans. "Remember, Accutane and Retin-A are both vitamin A derivatives." In fact, studies show that topical retinoids are effective for expelling blackheads and whiteheads and even offer anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin.
Lastly, you'll appreciate the zinc in pumpkin if redness is a concern. "Pumpkin contains zinc and potassium, which can help reduce redness, a common problem for those suffering from rosacea," Hellman says.
Hellman says you can apply pumpkin pulp directly to skin or make a DIY mask with other skin-friendly ingredients like honey or an egg yolk. If experimenting in the kitchen isn't your thing, try one of the products below instead.
Hellman recommends applying this exfoliating mask (which contains real pumpkin!) one to two times a week to help brighten your complexion.
This lightweight moisturizer cream is infused with pumpkin seed oil, which contains mega antioxidants. It can help protect your skin from environmental stressors while hydrating it at the same time.
If you aren't ready to invest heavily in pumpkin-infused products but still want to get in on the benefits come Halloween time, this sheet mask is for you. The hydration factor will leave your skin feeling positively dewy, plus the pumpkin will help support elasticity so you look refreshed. Plus, there's 24-karat gold to brighten everything up. ($8; sephora.com)
If scrubs are usually too harsh for your skin, you may want to give this gentler version a try. It's safe for all skin types: In addition to pumpkin enzymes for exfoliation and turnover, it contains soothing ingredients like honey, ginger root oil, and aloe vera that will help reduce irritation and soften your complexion.