Fall is here, complete with molten gold and ruby red leaves, chilly breezes, snuggly sweaters, soft cashmere blankets, fireplaces spiced with tobacco woods and bushels of fragrant apples. Lots and lots of apples. Especially if you are dwelling in the German countryside (as I am for the moment – check my Instagram feed!), where apples hold centrestage in much the same way that grapes do in the Champagne, France. Bushelfuls have been walking past my cottage door all week against a backdrop of misty afternoons, timber huts, smoky woods and some robust yodelling. Most will be turned into Germany’s cult culinary staples – apple cider, apple wine and apfelstrudel. Some will be kept back by those pretty German lassies to make love charms and wishing wands.
And some will be stored away in the larder for making beauty potions.
Obviously, it’s this last one that fascinates me the most. And I am far from alone in the quest – leading beauty brands have been distilling the humble apple (did you know it’s the most widely grown fruit in the world?) into their skincare collections. Whether it’s Lancome’s Absolue Precious Cells, Clarks Botanicals’ Cellular Lifting Serum, 3Lab’s Super H Serum or Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel, the original forbidden fruit is powering some of the most cutting edge beauty research of all times.
Though it’s not really surprising, since apples have been a part of beauty and healing rituals across the world ever since the time of Adam & Eve. Today, science is simply reinforcing what indigenous medicine has always known – that apples aren’t just delicious, they have potent beauty benefits as well.
Apples contain potent antioxidants: And hence prevent cell and tissue damage (goodbye wrinkles, sagging and premature aging!), while protecting the complexion against environmental exposure. Just make certain you don’t peel off the skin – that’s where these antioxidants reside.
Apples have skin boosting fibres: These delicious fruits (which, incidentally, are members of the rose family) have high doses of collagen and elastin, which keeps our skin soft, smooth and plumped up.
Apples are astringent and toning: Apple juice balances the skin’s pH levels, gets rid of surface bacteria and regulates sebum (natural oil) production. The result? Healthy, glowing skin sans signs of stress, fatigue, acne or greasiness.
Apples offer UV protection: While they won’t be replacing an SPF lotion anytime soon, apples provide extra protection against the sun. They can even treat sunburns most effectively.
Apples restore hair health: A compound called procyanidin B2, which is commonly found in apples, keeps locks long and glossy.
Apples are chockfull of vitamins: Green apples, in particular, are dense with vitamins A, B and C, which have a terrific whitening and nourishing effect on the complexion.
Apples fight infections: In addition, apples contain immunity-boosting pectin, which helps fight all kind of skin infections, including chronic acne.
Convinced? Now try these simple beauty recipes to harness the potent hair and skincare benefits of these juicy fruits.
What: Purifies oily, blemish-prone skin and perks up stressed-out complexions
How: Core and de-seed a green apple but leave the peel on. Cut it into small cubes and combine with half a cup of lukewarm water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely then strain through a fine sieve to remove the pulp. Stir in 1/4 cup of witch hazel and apply the mixture to your face with a cotton ball, like a toner.
Light & bright
What: Delivers a powerful dose of skin lightening tannins, enzymes and vitamin C to even out the skin tone
How: Puree an apple in a food processor. Add the rind of half a lemon and 2 tablespoons powdered milk; blend until smooth. Apply this all over the face; leave for 15 minutes, then rinse off.
Scrub & go
What: Gentle exfoliation
What: Soothes and nourishes the skin
How: Combine half an apple (cored, peeled and grated), 2 tablespoons rolled oats, 2 teaspoons cream and 2 teaspoons honey; mix thoroughly. Apply the mixture to clean face; allow to remain on skin for 10 minutes then rinse with warm water using gentle circular motions.
Skip the spots
What: Helps heal chronic acne
How: Mix equal parts grated raw apple (or unsweetened applesauce) and honey. Apply mixture to a clean face and let it remain on skin for 10 minutes. Finally, rinse off with cool water.
The wrinkle buster
What: Reduces wrinkles and inflammation
How: Grate an unripe apple and apply the pulp to freshly washed skin. Let it remain for 20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
What: Reduces puffy eyes
How: Mix 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce with one grated raw potato. Lie down and apply this paste to eyes; rinse off after 20 minutes.
Heal your hair
What: Revives dry, dull hair
How: Peel, core and grate 1-2 large apples (depending on the length of your hair). Combine the pulp with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon corn flour. Spread the mixture over dry unwashed hair and leave on for half an hour, then wash it off with a mild shampoo.
What: Helps clarify the scalp and get rid of flaky, dry skin, relieves itchiness and prevents dandruff
How: Combine 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 tablespoons powdered milk and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and mix well. Apply to dry hair, massaging the mask well into the scalp before allowing it to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse off and follow with mild shampoo as usual.
Have you ever tried an apple-based beauty product or recipe? Do share with us in the comments below!