Spotlight On: Banana

Ingredients, Skin Care
Bananas get recommended for skin care all the time but how well do they work when applied topically? (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

Recently I read an article that said to rub banana peels on my skin to smooth it. Are they totally bananas? (I refuse to apologize for that pun). Not exactly and I was actually surprised to find that.

People don’t often seek out to smell like bananas unless they’re lying on a beach sipping piña coladas as the skin-tanning sun slips dazzlingly below the waves. Aside from that fantasy, most people I know don’t strive to find banana’s scent.

But it’s actually a pretty cool fruit — definitely for eating and maybe for topical application. Studies have shown that it’s more beneficial to eat an ingredient than to put it on your skin (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology), it’s even more beneficial to ingest and put an ingredient on your skin, so maybe there’s something to what I read (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology).

[Read More: Which Fruits and Vegetables Are Best for Your Skin?]

It’s Got Antioxidants

Bananas actually have more antioxidants than tomatoes and grapes.

Who knew? While we’ve all been busy praising apples and tomatoes and various juicier fruits, banana actually comes in ahead of those (but behind strawberry, white grape, and a few others) in terms of oxygen radical absorbency capacity (ORAC) when topically applied (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry). Bananas have Vitamins A, C, and E; beta-carotene; selenium; and lutein (USDA).

Banana’s Under-Appreciated Peel

Banana peels are under-appreciated nutritionally — often getting tossed — but they have valuable carbohydrates and proteins. (Photo credit: Rich Anderson)

And it’s true that it goes under-appreciated as a study looking at the antioxidant properties of banana peel jelly found. “Banana peel is an underutilized source of phenolic compounds (Food Science and Biotechnology).” And that’s not the only study championing for the consumption, another article looked at the benefits of apple and banana peels as sources of carbohydrates and protein (Sindh University Research Journal).

When consumed orally, a study on mice showed that banana peel helped heal wounds made by oxidative damage (Chinese Journal of Public Health).

Healing Effects

Green bananas have been shown to help prevent and heal stomach ulcers.

Because it contains Vitamin E, plantain banana in various forms has been found to help promote ulcer healing (Indian Journal of Experimental Biology). And you know how bananas are sometimes used to take pills? Well, one reason might be what researchers found in a study on unripened bananas that showed that they helped to prevent and treat aspirin-induced ulcers (British Journal of Pharmacology). Other studies have found banana to be helpful in healing ulcers faster and better in mice.

But watch out, because bananas can be allergens for many people. Those with latex allergies have a higher likelihood of being allergic to bananas (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology). That means for some people, banana skin care can be irritating.

Bottom Line

Ok, so there’s not a ton of evidence to support that banana peels do a lot on skin. They might. Bananas have great antioxidant capabilities and have been shown to have antibacterial (Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science). Its peel has also been shown to help heal stomach ulcers. Does that equate to being good for your skin? Perhaps, but, as with many things, I’m waiting for the research to show what benefits it may have.

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  • Natalie Bell

    @Joe — Thank you very much! I’ll have to look into that one.


  • Joe

    Great article – I have also heard that rubbing a banana peel can whiten your teeth.

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