The Promise of Pomegranate
Picture the pomegranate with its shiny red skin, durable texture, and round shape; it's like a ready-made Christmas tree ornament. Split open, it reveals a treasure trove of ruby-like seeds, one of the reasons this fruit has long been a symbol of fertility, used for centuries to treat infertility and extend female sexual function.
Pomegranate's purported powers are plentiful. It's native to Persia, where ancient cultures used the ruby fruit to treat internal disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, and gastric inflammation, as well as external skin diseases. In Greek mythology, Persephone ate a pomegranate and was reborn each spring. This promise of immortality is also found in ancient Egyptian texts and Chinese folklore, where pomegranate juice was believed to be 'soul concentrate'. The Bible is also rife with references to pomegranate; some believe it to have been the fruit that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Today, pomegranate juice is filling the supermarket shelves in step with growing appreciation of the fruit's high level of antioxidants; greater than that of red wine, green tea, and blueberries. Recent clinical studies have caused many skincare experts to believe that your skin should also be drinking in the benefits of pomegranate. "Pomegranate elements are some of the newer, more interesting potentially chemopreventative and photoprotective ingredients yet discovered in nature to be used for our benefit", says Los Angeles dermatologist Vicki Rapaport. "There have been studies in skin cancer research that show that not only does its fruit extract block tumor formation in mice but it can enhance SPF factor which, in my opinion, is always a plus."
These positive properties have prompted a pomegranate product proliferation. Pomegranate-based lines are tempting consumers to slather themselves in Punica granatum from head to toe, and from lips to fingertips. Pomegranate potions from Archipelago Botanicals and Mor Cosmetics pamper the body, as does the Garden Botanika Pomegranate Wine 'Touch' collection, which ups the antioxidant quotient by adding French wine extracts into the mix, and also includes hair care within its ten-product line. Joico, renowned for hair care, put pomegranate power to work on the body in its Hydrating Body Creme and Cleanser in its new Skin Luxe 'Sweet Pomegrante' Duo, available only this winter. Fruits & Passion's six-product Radiance line, which focuses on the face, is based on pomegranate's aquaporins, which help the skin absorb and retain moisture.
The most prolific pomegranate proponent is perhaps dermatologist Howard Murad, author of Wrinkle-Free Forever, who has created two pomegranate-powered lines 'Vitalic and Age-Proof Suncare' that include sunblocks of various potencies as well as SPF 15 Self Tanner. Murad products capitalize on clinical findings that pomegranate can boost the SPF rating of topical sunscreens, so higher levels of protection can be achieved with fewer chemicals. Tests have also proven that ingesting pomegranate heightens sun protection, which is the basis of Murad's Pomphenol Sunguard Daily Supplement of 100 percent pure pomegranate extract.
Murad is not alone in offering pomegranate supplements; Pomega5 Oil of Life features what may be the most potent part of this medicinal fruit; pomegranate seed oil, a rare plant-based source of omega-5 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). In addition to dietary supplements, Pomega5 has 100 percent organic pomegranate seed oil for topical use, and its own Healing Cream and Cleansing Bar. Cold-pressed from an ancient Mediterranean cultivar, Pomega5 seed oil is the foundation of luxurious t'Zerah Forbidden Fruit Collection facial cleansers and rich, intensive moisturizers. Israel-based Noveya's PomegranAid Pomegranate Elixir can be taken orally or used topically; its all-natural Pomegranate Soap combines nearly every part of the plant; seeds, leaves, and peel, with organic goat's milk and wildflower honey.
While collections based on the fruit have blossomed, other skincare companies feature pomegranate prominently in one product. Such is the case with Bella Lucce's Pomegranate Polishing Creme and Aqua Dessa's Honey Pomegranate Cleansing Foam, both of which smell good enough to eat. Both Zia and Jane Iredale have just introduced hydrating and protective pomegranate-rich spritzing toners. 100% Pure recently launched Sheer Pomegranate Wine lip gloss, which uses fruit pigment instead of dyes, so its subtle color is actually beneficial for the lips. And while pomegranate plays a more understated role in Martina Gebhardt's Happy Aging potions, it takes center stage in the company's Pomegranate Cream Facial Mask, with silver and gold as supporting players.
Does pomegranate merit this surge of popularity? Rapaport seems to think so. "I am not one of those dermatologists that jumps on every bandwagon", she says, "and I certainly don't advocate for consumers to spend their savings on potentially unproven claims, but there is something to say about the wealth of goodies found in the seed oil and the fruit extract of the pomegranate."
Consumers must agree, since companies with pomegranate products claim they are red-hot products. This is true for Biotone Spa, whose CEO and product chemist, Jean Shea, says their Pomegranate & Cranberry Hydrating Lotion, Body Butter, and Salt Glow are top sellers. "It's an ingredient worth looking at", she says, citing studies of pomegranate's promise in fighting skin cancer. "Its antioxidant properties have been established. It's also a source of citric acid, which has an antifungal effect." Biotone provides the products for the Pomegranate
& Cranberry Body Polish at the Water's Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook, Connecticut, (www.watersedgeresortandspa.com) while the Murad Medical Spa in El Segundo, California, (www.murad.com/spa) reaches to its own line for its Pomegranate Scrub. Nearby, Allen Edwards Salon & Spas in Studio City, Woodland Hills, and Brentwood (www.allenedwards.com) proffer a Pomegranate Body Polish using Mor's fruitful Body Wash and Sugar Scrub, finishing off with Pomegranate Body Butter.
With October just behind us, one final potion deserves mention. Recognizing the chemopreventive promise of pomegranate, Shea Terra introduced Pink Guava Pomegranate Shea Butter Body Cream with deference to this year's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. "Pomegranate has been known to kill cancer cells" says Shea Terra creator Tammie Umbel. "Also, the fact that our cream is paraben-free is great for cancer month because it is parabens that they find in breast tumors" This all-natural pink-hued cream is sure to leave you feeling in the pink.
At Home Recipe
Pomegranate Seed Oil MasqueFrom Tzeira Sofer, President, Pomega5
1 1/2 tbs. almonds; skinless and blanched
2 tbs. oatmeal (uncooked)
20 drops of pomegranate seed oil
2 drops each of grapefruit and ylang ylang essential oil
1 drop each of rosewood and lemongrass essential oil
1 tsp. almond oil
a few drops of fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tsp. honey
zest of one lemon, about 1/2 tsp.
1/3 hydroponic cucumber (seedless) with skin removed, cut into pieces
Grind the almonds and the oatmeal together in a blender or food processor. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and then add in all of the oils, whisking after each addition. Then add the honey, lemon juice, and zest. Alternate adding the pieces of cucumber and the oil mixture to the food processor. If the mixture is too sticky, add 1/2 teaspoon of mineral or distilled water; if it's too loose, add a small amount of ground oatmeal. You are looking for the texture of a loose dough. Apply a thin layer of masque to your clean, dry face. Use under the eyes, on the lips and on the neck as well. After 15 minutes, exfoliate by gently rubbing each section in small, circular motions. Remove any remaining residue with warm water and a soap-free cleanser such as Pomega5 Cleansing Bar. Then apply Pomega5 Healing Cream*.
*For a free sample of the healing cream, email email@example.com with your name, address, and phone number.
Pomegranate at Home
Aqua Dessa Spa Therapy Honey Pomegranate Cleansing Foam, www.aquadessa.com
Archipelago Pomegranate Creme for the Hands, available on www.beautyexclusive.com
Bella Lucce Pomegranate Polishing Creme, www.bellalucce.com
Biotone Spa Pomegranate & Cranberry Salt Glow, www.biotonespa.com
Fruits & Passion Radiance Face Care, Instant Glow Essence, www.fruits-passion.com
Garden Botanika Pomegranate Wine Hair Mask, www.gardenbotanika.com
Jane Iredale Pom Mist, www.janeiredale.com
Joico Skin Luxe Bath and Body Duo: Sweet Pomegranate Hydrating Body Cleanser and Creme, www.joico.com (available Nov/Dec only)
Martina Gebhardt Naturkosmetik Granatapeel Maske (Pomegranate Cream Mask), www.eco-beauty.com
Mor Pomegranate Sugar Body Polish, www.morcosmetics.com
Murad Age-Proof Suncare Oil-Free Sunblock SPF 30, www.murad.com
Noveya Beauty Nutrients 100% Natural Pomegranate Soap with Organic Goat's Milk & Honey, www.noveya.com
100% Pure, Pure Fruit Pigment Lip Gloss in Sheer Pomegranate Wine, available only at Bath & Body Works flagship stores, CO Bigelows, and on QVC, www.puritycosmetics.com
Pomega5 Oil of Life Healing Cream, www.pomega5.com
Shea Terra Organics Pink Guava Pomegranate Shea Butter Body Cream, www.sheaterraorganics.com
t'Zerah Forbidden Fruit Collection Creme Grenade Anti-Rides (Rejuvenating Skin Repair Cream) and Serum Grenade Intensive (Intensive Night Repair Serum), www.tzerah.com
Zia Brilliance Hydrating Toner, www.zianatural.com