The next big thing in skin care might be hiding out in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Common items on your grocery shopping list like watermelon and avocado are already skin expert-approved, but carrots are gaining serious attention in the way of product inclusion.
It will take a little more than slicing up the veggie and sticking it on your face to reap any potential skin benefits, but Anar Mikailov, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of KP Away, explains that when used correctly, carrots can help multiple skin types with common concerns.“Carrots have significant beta-carotene, which is an organic molecule found in various plants,” says Dr. Mikailov.
Dr. Corey L. Hartman, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology, adds that most carrot-containing skin-care products are made with either carrot extract or carrot seed oil—which are high in the active beta-carotene. He explains that this antioxidant-rich ingredient can also reduce inflammation and protect skin from environmental stressors like pollution.“Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A, which is known to address multiple signs of aging–it helps boost collagen production, increase cell turnover rate, which helps firm and brighten the skin,” says Dr. Mikailov.
Considering retinol (aka the gold standard of anti-aging skin care) is also rich in vitamin A, the two ingredients share some similarities—namely, their abilities to ramp up cell turnover and collagen production. That said, Dr. Mikailov cautions against expecting the same sort of immediate results from carrot-based products as you would from retinoids. “While it is effective as an antioxidant and is a precursor to retinol, carrot does not work as quickly nor as well as retinol or prescription tretinoin,” she says.
Dr. Hartman agrees, noting, “Carrots in skin care are not going to give you the same level of results as using a product with pure Vitamin A. So if you’re looking for exfoliation or a reduction in acne, you want to leave carrots alone and choose a product with retinol. But if you are looking to try something new that can gently help brighten skin, give carrots a try.”
While snacking on carrots offers its own set of benefits (like boosting fiber and supporting eye health), you’ll need to apply them topically to see any changes in your skin. “Topical application of any ingredient is different from consumption,” says Dr. Mikalov. “Topical application will have a very specific effect on the skin only, whereas consuming carrots will benefit all organs of the body. Topical application is the safest approach for the skin benefits of beta-carotene.”
Your best bet, says Dr. Hartman, is to look for products that pair carrot with hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides. Because carrot works similarly to other vitamin A-rich products, he cautions against using it alongside retinoids, as pairing the two together could increase your risk of irritation.
Ready to reap these skin-brightening benefits for yourself? Shop our favorite carrot-infused products below.
This skin-soothing moisturizer pairs carrot with calming ingredients like niacinamide and Centella Asiatica to simultaneously brighten your complexion and reduce redness and inflammation.
This lightweight moisturizer harnesses the properties of carrot extract and carrot seed oil for a double dose of beta carotene. The brand’s carrots are organically grown and extracted with steam to preserve their nutrients, which means you’re getting a whole lot of bang for your ingredient buck.
This face wash employs carrot’s exfoliating abilities to help fight acne. It also includes pore-clearing salicylic acid plus antioxidant-rich turmeric and ginger, and has a gentle foaming texture that will cleanse skin without stripping it.
Introduce carrot into your full-body routine with this all-over balm. It’s nice and thick (texturally, it’s similar to Vaseline, but without any petrolatum), and works to seal in moisture while infusing your skin with antioxidants.
Black carrot is one of the lesser-known ingredients in The Ordinary’s fan-favorite retexturizing peel. Paired with powerful acids like lactic, glycolic, and salicylic, it adds another layer of gentle exfoliation.
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