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Papaya scrub is a skin-nourishing, exfoliating bath product. The scrub can be made at home using a ripe papaya and natural ingredients. Cosmetic and skincare companies also make papaya-based face and body scrubs that can be purchased in the skincare sections of many retailers. Papaya has naturally occurring acids and enzymes that remove the outermost layer of dead skin. This natural exfoliation process is important for keeping skin looking fresh and radiant. Natural compounds in papaya are also used to lighten and whiten skin.
The key ingredient in papaya for skin care is papain. Papain, also called papaya proteinase, is an enzyme that occurs naturally and in high concentrations in papaya fruit. The enzyme eats away the proteins in dead skin cells, causing them to dissolve. This has given papaya the reputation as a natural skin exfoliant.
Papaya is more than just an exfoliating agent, however. The enzymes as well as acids and vitamins in the fruit soften dry skin and nourish skin cells for a healthier, smoother complexion. The compounds in papaya have also been found to lighten and whiten the skin, which further help papaya scrub renew and rejuvenate the face and body.
Cosmetic and skincare companies use papain extracted from unripe papaya. The extract can be added to a variety of products, including facial and body scrubs. A granular ingredient can also be added to increase the scrubby exfoliating quality of the scrub. Most papaya scrubs created and sold by skincare companies contain only the papain extract and do not contain papaya fruit, as it is difficult to preserve the fresh fruit.
A homemade papaya scrub can be made with a ripe papaya and a selection of other natural ingredients. Papaya contains papain at every stage of fruit development, but for a homemade body scrub, a ripe papaya fruit is easiest to use. A ripe, or slightly overripe papaya gets progressively softer as the fruit starts to break down.
Once the seeds and skin are removed, the papaya can be mashed into a smooth consistency. A granular element can be added to increase the scrubby quality of the papaya scrub — natural coarse sea salt can work well for this purpose. Ground oatmeal also can be added to make a soothing and exfoliating scrub for sensitive skin. To create a smooth consistency, milk, honey or coconut milk can be added. Aloe gel or juice can also be added to a homemade papaya scrub to increase its soothing and skin rejuvenating properties.