Writing by Susan Trumpbour

Artwork by Joey Cervoni

Healthy eating and glowing skin go hand in hand, but did you know some foods can do wonders when applied directly to the skin?

Aviral TikTok trend, #bananabotox, claims that rubbing the inside of a banana peel onto the skin can reduce wrinkles, leaving you with younger-looking skin. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? With three million views, it’s not hard to understand why everyone is ‘going bananas’ over it. 

But before you rush out to grab your bunch, dermatologist Dr. Kunal Malik at Spring Street Dermatology in Manhattan cautions us to think past the hashtag. 

“Banana peels are rich in tannins and vitamin A, but they are unlikely to absorb into the skin at a molecular level,” he explains. “Plus, no scientific evidence supports the idea that any food is better than Botox for reducing wrinkles or fine lines.” 

While the concept of #bananabotox may sound appealing, you should probably stick to eating it instead. 

“In general, applying products, such as fruits, on the skin is not well studied,” says Dr. David Bank, a dermatologist in Mount Kisco. “And ingesting vitamins from your daily diet can nourish and hydrate the skin just as well.” 

But some foods can actually provide a greater benefit when applied directly to the skin. So, while the idea of using banana peels for Botox-like effects might be a bit of a stretch, there’s no harm in exploring the world of food-based skincare solutions. But first, you must do your homework. 

Foods that give your skin a boost

We researched and asked the experts’ opinions on choosing foods you’d regularly find at your grocery store. Below are the top recommendations, along with advice as to whether apply or ingest for the best outcome. 

(Editor’s note: We are not medical professionals, and nothing beats talking to your doctor first, especially if you have food allergies or sensitivities. So please, use your judgment and consult a real doctor if you have questions or concerns.)


There’s a lot of truth to the idiom “cool as a cucumber.” It has the highest water content of any food at 96 percent water. They’re known for adding moisture and revitalizing the skin. 

Besides being water-rich, cucumbers are packed with minerals, including vitamins A, B, C and E, and a high amount of vitamin K, which helps to reduce dark circles. “Cucumbers are hydrating and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” Malik explains. “They work very well when applied to the eye areas, and in the summer, a cucumber toner feels so refreshing on the skin.” 

Apply or ingest: 

APPLY cucumbers directly on your skin to refresh and hydrate. The inside of a cucumber remains cool, which, when applied to the eyes or face, helps reduce puffiness. The coolness acts as a vasoconstrictor, slowing blood flow. 

Bonus tip: Put the slices in the freezer to tap into their ice-cold powers.


Honey has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for centuries to heal and hydrate the skin. 

Cleopatra is said to have bathed regularly in milk infused with honey, and women in Ming dynasty-era China used it to clear blemishes. Besides its soothing properties, honey can also help gently exfoliate the skin, as it contains enzymes that can help remove dead skin cells.

Apply or ingest: 

APPLY honey directly on your skin.  Wet your face first to avoid it being too sticky, then apply the honey. Avoid getting the honey in or around your eyes.  Rinse off after 20 minutes. 

Did you know: If you have a blemish, try dabbing a little raw honey directly on your skin – it’s an all-natural spot treatment. 


Being addicted to avocado isn’t bad, especially because, according to Bank, “it offers skin-glowing benefits since it’s naturally high in vitamins.” 

The natural oils in avocados deeply penetrate the skin to nourish, soften and hydrate. The hydrating properties may reduce fine lines and wrinkles, as well as help keep skin smooth and boost immunity against stress and other environmental factors.

Apply or ingest:

APPLY this fruit directly on your skin. 

Here’s a simple recipe idea from facialist Tatiana Popa at Celia B Skin Care in Greenwich:

Mix 1⁄2 avocado with yogurt and raw organic honey. Apply a layer to your face and leave it on for 15 – 20 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water.


“Straight lemon should never be applied to the skin,” Dr. Malik cautions. “Lemons contain vitamin C and antioxidants, but the topical application of lemon can lead to severe irritation, burning and dryness. It can also create a condition known as phytophotodermatitis, which happens when the compounds in lemon juice react with sunlight and cause severe disfiguring inflammation and pigmentation on the skin.”

Apply or ingest:

It’s best to squeeze the real benefits of this citrus in your water and INGEST it, rather than apply directly to the skin. 


Turmeric is a medicinal root used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric’s clinically proven benefits are derived from its active ingredient, curcumin, which can reverse aging, treat acne and rosacea, and brighten skin tone.

“Turmeric is bright yellow (beware: it can stain the skin!) and has a uniquely strong aroma,” says Dr. Tanuj Nakra, co-founder of AVYA Advanced Ayurvedic Skincare. “But the colorless and odorless isolated active ingredient curcumin is used in medical-grade skincare to harness the benefits of turmeric without the downsides.” 

Apply or ingest:

“Ingesting turmeric is not enough to help your skin,” says Nakra. “The best way to gain its benefits is to APPLY it topically.”

Here’s a centuries-old Indian face mask that is used as a pre-wedding ritual to even skin tone and leave it glowing:  

  1. One teaspoon of turmeric powder 
  2. One cup of chickpea flour 
  3. Two tablespoons of milk or yogurt

Mix it like a paste, then apply it to the skin. After 15 minutes, rinse it off with cold water and pat dry.


While Coconut oil is a wonderfully moisturizing ingredient used for many things, Malik cautions that “coconut oil is comedogenic (pore-clogging) and highly inflammatory on the skin. It will most likely cause breakouts.” 

Bank adds that many fruits can cause irritant dermatitis when applied to the skin, so be very careful. It’s always advised to patch test any food before applying it to your skin to avoid allergic reactions or irritation. 

Or, consider using coconut water, which boosts the skin’s glow factor.

Apply or ingest:  

Your best/safest bet is to INGEST coconut water to absorb all the moisture and vitamins from this highly hydrating fruit. 

You are what you eat

We have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat,” but it’s clearly truer than you might think. A good diet can benefit you from head to toe, so apply and ingest often, and wisely.

This article was published in the July/August 2023 print edition of Katonah Connect.

Susan Trumpbour
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Susan Trumpbour, a.k.a. ‘Dear Beauty Editor’, has spent over 20 years as a beauty editor, new product development executive and trend consultant. If she isn’t writing about beauty, she’s creating shades and formulas for top cosmetics houses like L’Oréal, Maybelline and Neutrogena. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking the beautiful trails in Bedford, where she lives with her husband, two sons and their white fluffy rescue dog.