Don’t you think skin care ingredients are a bit wacky? From bee venom to spirulina – we accept and do a lot to keep up with our appearances. We have an almost never-ending list of lotions and potions with almost unpronounceable ingredient names to keep our skin at its best. But sometimes, simple is best. Did you know that there’s a simple thing out there that makes a big difference not only on your skin but also hair and nails? It’s pears.
Although this crunchy, juicy fruit flies under the radar, drowned out by the more glamorous ingredients such as pineapple or blueberry, it has the potential to protect your skin and make it sparkly fresh.
The pear plant Pyrus belongs to the Rosaceae family. It’s related to apples, quinces, raspberries, and almonds. Its origins are said to be in China and Asia Minor but are very widely grown now and consumed all over the world.
The word pear comes from the Latin “pirus” meaning fruit.
There are different types of pears, some don’t even look like a pear – you know have the typical pear shape. Just look at the Asian pear (also called Chinese, Korean, or Japanese pear). It looks like an apple but tastes just like a regular pear, although it’s typically much juicier and sweeter than either “regular” apples or pears.
It’s said that pears were grown in China since at least 2000 BC. The first mention in literature was by Homer who praised pears as “gifts of gods” in the Odyssey.
The Romains cultivated pears so that they can eat them just like apples raw or in cooked dishes.
France became the centre of pear horticulture obsession in the 17th and 18th centuries. The plant was valued for bringing beauty to gardens and the fruit was lauded as being a grace on tables.
Peak pear occurred in Victorian England, where you’d see private gardens cherish and care for over 50 varieties. Doesn’t it sound mad to care for such a large number of pears? That was because head gardeners took advantage of the different harvest times so that they could have a succession of pears with different flavour and scents all the while avoiding the headache of storing them without rotting.
And since then, the pear got eclipsed by hardier fruits. Fruits like apples are easier to grow and to handle. A pear is delicate and is difficult to handle and to sell. Getting the right time to harvest is tricky. They’re mostly sold unripe. They bruise easily. And the pear shape means packing is also more difficult.
All that being said, the pear was valued for a long time. It was used in in anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and anti-hyperglycemic remedies in China for more than 2000 years. Modern studies back its health benefits.
Even though pears are nutrient dense, they’re low in calories. The pear is an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin C. It also provides you with fibre, vitamin K, and potassium. It’s high in polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals.
So, why pears?
It’s not only that eating a pear will keep your skin at its best. Pears, especially those with red skin, contain carotenoids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins.
A pear contains a lot of water, to be exact 84%. It also contains natural humectants that draw water to and help retain it in the skin.
Enzymes in skin care are only getting more popular. The most commonly found in skin care are proteases. These enzymes break down proteins and so can speed up skin exfoliation. Pears contain protease so they work perfectly as a gentle, natural scrub.
Prevent collagen breakdown
Did you know that eating sugary food can speed up the ageing process? The sugar in your food gets into the bloodstream and then can attach to proteins such as elastin and collagen and damage them.
You can slow down or prevent this process by eating and applying pear-infused products. When you eat a pear, the fibres help to reduce the rate at which sugar is discharged into the bloodstream.
The antioxidants such as vitamins and flavonoids reduce the concentration of free radicals in your tissues. They’re a two-pronged approach to protecting your skin. While protecting the existing collagen from damage induced by free radicals, they boost collagen formation.
Slow down signs of ageing
The antioxidants along with vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium stave off the appearance of ageing. Vitamin C and zinc are key in wound healing and tissue repair. If you don’t get enough magnesium in your diet, levels of fatty acid on the surface of the skin and collagen levels decrease.
You don’t want that because the fatty acids are important in keeping your skin moisturised and preventing water from evaporating. Lower levels of fatty acids mean dryer skin, prone to wrinkles, and even disrupted skin barrier. Magnesium is also needed when your skin is recovering from any external damage because it regulates cell regeneration and repair.
Comparing pears with apples
Pears are related to apples. Both belong to the Rosaceae family, sub-family pomoideae. This means they’re so called pome fruits. Both have white flesh and are covered with skin.
You surely have heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Since apples are similar to pears in their nutrient content this saying is also valid for the pear.
In general, apples have higher levels of potassium and they also contain quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic acid. So, apples can also help protect your skin from environmental damage.
How to pick a pear
You know a pear is ripe when you press it gently around the stalk and it yields slightly. Since it’s very finicky and bruises easily, use very gentle pressure and don’t handle it too much.
Pears and apples are packed with polyphenols. These are compounds that plants make. They have several tasks like attracting pollinators or protecting against environmental stresses. It has been shown that these compounds can also do the same for your skin: protecting against environmental aggressors and repairing any damage. They can also calm inflamed skin. This is why it’s a good idea to eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables.
In closing, I leave you with a simple hack to depuff your eyes. When you prepare a pear, keep 2 slices in the fridge. In the morning or when you need it, take out the refrigerated pear slices and put them on your eyes. After about 15 minutes, rinse your face with cold water and apply moisturiser. The pear wedges have the same effect as cucumbers and (used) tea bags.