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More than just a delicious fruit, papaya is a source of nutrients with a number of health benefits.

According to a 2013 paper, the many benefits of papaya can be attributed to the high content of vitamins A, B, and C. Its proteolytic enzymes, such as papain and chymopapain also have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

Papayas have gained popularity as a natural home treatment, and for their use in skin and hair products. Their benefits vary and are summarized in the table below.

Papaya is rich in antioxidants, such as lycopene, that may defend against the visible signs of aging.

A 2015 study indicated that much of the skin damage and wrinkling that occurs with aging can be attributed to excessive free radical activity.

According to a later study, these antioxidants can help fight free radical damage which may help your skin remain smooth and youthful.

Papaya may also help improve the elasticity of your skin according to 2012 research on rats. This improvement in skin elasticity could minimize the appearance of wrinkles.

A 2014 study of older women who consumed a mixture of antioxidants including vitamin C and lycopene, had a measurable reduction in the depth of facial wrinkles.

The enzymes papain and chymopapain in papaya can decrease inflammation. The protein-dissolving papain can be found in many exfoliating products. These products help reduce acne by removing dead skin cells that can clog pores.

Papain can also remove damaged keratin that can build up on the skin and form small bumps. A 2017 study suggested that papain is a viable treatment for scarring.

Papaya is also rich in vitamin A. Although it’s believed that vitamin A might play a role in the development and treatment of acne, the impact of diet on acne remains unclear.

Retinol, a topical form of vitamin A, can help treat and prevent inflammatory acne lesions.

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Papaya is a popular home remedy for melasma. Proponents of natural healing suggest that the enzymes, beta-carotene, vitamins, and phytochemicals in papaya have skin lightening properties.

Although unsubstantiated by clinical research, they claim that these qualities — combined with the clinically proven action of papain in dissolving inactive protein — can lighten and soften the skin.

Daily application of cold-pressed papaya seed oil may help lighten dark spots. Buy it online.

According to a 2012 study, the vitamin A in papaya can have positive effects on hair by helping your scalp produce sebum which nourishes, strengthens, and protects your hair.

You can create a papaya hair conditioning mask by mixing together:

  • 1/2 ripe papaya
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey

Apply the mask to damp hair and let it sit for 30 to 40 minutes. Then rinse, shampoo, and condition your hair as you normally would.

Not in the mood to mix yourself? Shop for papaya hair masks here.

According to a 2018 study, compounds in papaya, including lycopene, showed “a potent hair growth stimulating activity.”

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One of the main causes of dandruff is a yeast-like fungus known as malassezia. A 2011 article indicated that the antifungal properties of papaya seeds can assist in both controlling and preventing dandruff.

Try a papaya deep treatment hair mask for dandruff control. Buy one online, like this one from Papaya & Pineapple.

Papaya can offer benefits for both skin and hair, including:

  • wrinkle reduction
  • acne control
  • melasma treatment
  • hair conditioning
  • hair growth
  • dandruff control

If you’re considering using papaya for your skin or hair, talk with a doctor or dermatologist before using. This is always a good idea prior to starting any new skin or hair treatment. Your doctor can recommend products and treatments that work well for your hair and skin type.