Samui Wining & Dining
Food on your Face!

Samui’s spas take advantage of the abundance of tropical fruit and vegetables in their treatments.


10We all know how good fruit and vegetables are for us. Growing up with sayings such as ‘five a day’ or ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, and stern warnings from parents to ‘eat your veggies, they’re good for you!’ spring to mind. That’s on the inside, but did you know that fresh fruit and vegetables can be just as good for you on the outside?

      Walk into any spa that uses natural products and you’ll soon find that the facial treatments contain fresh fruit extracts or vegetable purees. In fact here on Samui, with the abundance of tropical fruit and vegetables on hand, it’s so much easier for the spas to take advantage of nature. Fresh fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and skin-loving vitamins and minerals, and many can be applied directly on the skin in the form of a paste for easy absorption.

      We’ve all seen pictures of cucumber slices placed on the eyes during a facial, or the green goo of an avocado face mask. But what are the benefits of these ingredients and what else can be used?

      Well, cucumber has long been known to reduce dark circles under the eyes. It calms inflammation and shrinks the pores. So placing slices on your

resting eyes after a few heavy nights will do wonders to rejuvenate your skin. It’s also effective in relieving sunburn and, along with aloe vera, is an ingredient in many after-sun lotions.

     Avocado, although expensive here on Samui, contains several moisturising ingredients that will leave your skin smooth and supple. It also helps the skin naturally produce its own collagen. You can apply fresh avocado pulp to the face after your cleansing and masking routine as a deep moisturiser, and then rinse off with cool water.

       Sticking with the vegetables, peppers help increase circulation and work well in cosmetics to plump up the lips – no collagen injections required! Carrots, other than supposedly helping us to see in the dark and making hair curly (Why don’t rabbits have curly hair then?), are rich in beta-carotene, which can help smooth rough skin patches. And dark green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants that reduce skin inflammation and prevent cell damage. Pumpkin, aside from making delicious soup and featuring at Halloween parties, has many skin benefits too. It’s rich in antioxidants, contains vitamins A and D, enzymes, magnesium and zinc. It’s a skin softener, soothes sunburn, reduces large pores, is an anti-inflammatory, prevents oil build-up and helps control acne, and is a natural exfoliator, therefore great for feet and hands.

       Before we go to the fruit, let’s look at the tomato, that fruit that thinks it’s a vegetable. It’s rich in lycopene, which helps to fight free radicals, and its vitamin C boosts collagen production. Fruits such as bananas, papaya, berries, cantaloupe, grapes, lemons, oranges, peaches, and pineapple can be used to make facial masks, luxurious skin creams, cosmetics and anti-aging products. And let’s face it, licking your lips as a banana and honey face mask oozes towards your lips is much more appealing than the green leafy vegetable option…

         So what fruit are you likely to find in your masques, scrubs and wraps? Banana is common, particularly as it’s so abundant on the island. This delicious creamy fruit has natural oils that work perfectly as skin softeners while its rich vitamins and nutrients are wonderful for improving hair’s elasticity. Banana is excellent for treating bruises, allergies, wrinkles, dry skin and even acne. The peel is high in potassium, which makes a great treatment in itself for acne, warts, poison ivy rash and psoriasis.

         Sticking with the local fruit, watermelon helps to soothe sunburn and helps repair skin by encouraging tissue regeneration. Also, pineapple contains a powerful enzyme that helps eliminate dead skin while protecting it from free radicals.

         Lemon and lime act as a natural skin bleach and softener. Used on rough elbows, knees or foot calluses, citrus can make skin softer and suppler.

         Papaya is another local fruit both delicious and good for beauty regimes. It contains vitamins A and C, is rich in carotene and enzymes, and helps the fight against premature aging with its smoothing properties. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and natural exfoliator. This tropical fruit acts as a skin lightener for treating age spots and reducing freckles, helps treat acne and is a great hair treatment too.

         Wine lovers have long proclaimed the benefits of a glass (or two) of wine a day. And in some countries, certain spas offer ‘wine baths’ whereby the guest soaks in a bath of red wine to rejuvenate the skin. This is one ingredient that some may argue is more fun consuming that using externally. But anyway, grapes of all shades are rich in antioxidants and also have exfoliating properties. Equally as good for anti-oxidants, as well as for anti-inflammatory properties, are blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Used in skin cream, they can help soothe skin while repairing surface cells.

         Mango is effective in helping to restore the elasticity of the skin, which tends to decrease with age and is a natural way of regenerating skin cells and maintaining a youthful-looking skin. It’s a versatile fruit, often used in facial cleansers, scrubs and rich body butter.

         But it’s the icon of Samui – the coconut – that’s probably most often used in spas. The oil is used as a base oil for massages and the thick milk is often used in milk and floral baths to moisturise the skin. The oil makes an excellent hair treatment, making glossy and healthy-looking locks, and also repairs scar tissue when applied to healing wounds. Coconut flesh and fibres ground up fine make a good body scrub that leaves the skin glowing and moisturised by the oils in the flesh of the fruit too.

         So the next time you see the local business people shopping at the fresh food market, it may not be only for the restaurants, but perhaps for the spas too! And a fun way to enjoy your ‘five a day’ is by a day of pampering at the spa. Mum never said how you should have your five fruits and veg, just that you must. Now that’s an argument you can win on a technicality…


Rosanne Turner


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