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Oct 05, 2017
by Vivant Skin Care
We know this will come as a shock, but sometimes the internet serves up some bad information. Then multiplies it. And boom, a myth is created that will not die. Case in point, the theory that rubbing raw potatoes on your face will fade melasma, age spots, hyperpigmentation or acne scars. We’ve seen a slew of blogs, YouTube videos, and Pinterest posts from numerous sources (including some who should know better) promoting this completely unscientific claim.
We were curious as to how this potato power rumor got started. We couldn’t find blogger zero, but we did spot the common error in the posts. The potato proponents cite an enzyme called catecholase as the skin lightening agent.
The idea that catecholase lightens skin is 180 degrees from true. Catecholase is the result of the chemical compound catechol, and the enzyme polyphenol oxidase (both constituents of the potato) combining and reacting to oxygen. This reaction stimulates melanin production. Let’s say that again because this is the crux of why rubbing raw potato on your face to remove pigmentation is going to leave you disappointed and probably a bit itchy (catechol is known to cause eczematous dermatitis). Catecholase is an enzyme that stimulates melanin production.
Certainly, you’ve noticed that when you slice a raw potato and leave it on the counter, it will turn brown. Why? Because catecholase.
The idea that potatoes have beneficial effects for skin is not completely misguided. According to studies published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, potatoes have been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years, including being applied topically in poultices for wound healing. And the reason they are good for topical wound healing is because they stimulate skin’s protective mechanism: melanin.
You’re far better off eating potatoes for their nutrient value. The skin is rich in nutrients—phenolic compounds, flavonoids, glycoalkaloids and cell wall polysaccharides—with antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. The potato flesh contains a healthy dose of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, fiber, magnesium, antioxidants and resistant starch.
For topical lightening agents, the science supports things like kojic acid, mandelic acid, hydroquinone, and niacinamide. Shop Vivant’s collection of products formulated to safely and effectively reveal a brighter, more consistent tone in all skin types.
There are a great many articles out there that are based on anecdotal information and a misunderstanding of the science. Many of them state that the enzyme “catecholase” is responsible for inhibiting melanin. That is false. Catecholase is an enzyme that creates oxidation. It’s the reasons the potato (or fruit) turns brown when exposed to air. It also plays a role in the activation of tyrosinase, the melanin producing enzyme in human skin. Lightening agents work to inhibit these enzymes. For instance kojic acid, which we use in some of our formulations, is an inhibitor of catecholase and tyrosinase. Here is a link to a brief article published in the National Library of Medicine that illustrates this. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7714722
Potatoes do have some antioxidant bioavailability when consumed. So we recommend eating them rather than applying them to your skin. Thanks for your question!
All the articles support potato as skin lightening agent.Only you ate against it.Is it because you want to sell your products ?
I planned to try raw potatoes on my face and now I cannot because of your article. Thank you.
Wow! Just Wow! Growing up with Irish parents we were taught to respect the spud. And by that I mean you EAT them, not use them as skin lighteners!
Now that I’m married to a Frenchman, he also has an incredible respect for the potato—as a frite! And in our house the only thing I do with raw potatoes is give them to our dog!
…Hmmmmmm. now perhaps I can use those old brown spuds to tan my legs??
Thank you fr the info!
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