Have you felt the power of papaya?
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
When the papaya fell to the shores of Central America, its coral-coloured juices proved so soothing that the Mayans deemed it sacred. Legend holds that when Christopher Columbus went to the region in the 15th century, papaya was used to treat his indigestion; he called it “the fruit of the angels”. More recently papaya leaves have been tested against the latest strains of Covid 19.
These credentials have made papaya a valuable asset in the skincare market. Luxury vegan brand Orveda uses the fruit in its aptly named Healing Sap, which combines prebiotics and hyaluronic acid for an illuminating serum that helps fight signs of fatigue. Similarly, in Chantecaille’s best-selling Hibiscus Smoothing Mask, papaya is bolstered by stress-proofing antioxidants and soothing emollients. In need of a quick fix? Wishful’s Yo Glow brightens in a single rinse.
Papaya’s healing potential is thanks to an enzyme called papain, which helps to break down protein. It was papain that Sisley settled on while researching its latest launch, an exfoliating enzyme mask that grants luminous skin in under a minute. Whereas scrubs and acids can be abrasive, enzyme exfoliators work to dissolve the keratin that binds dead or dull skin cells. As Sisley’s active ingredients manager Caroline Bertrand says, the complexion appears “even and fresh” without dryness or irritation; papain only removes what the skin doesn’t need.
Other products to look out for are those that are activated by liquid. Both Sisley and Japanese brand Tatcha believe the best way to administer papain is as a powder, which is combined with water to create a smooth paste. Launched this year, Tatcha’s Rice Polish delivers a gentle exfoliation with a cloud-like foam, a formula so successful that 100 per cent of its trial participants saw improvement in skin smoothness, texture and pores.