A new beauty trend has appeared in recent years – rubbing banana peels on your face to improve skin quality and appearance. The trend seems to have originated on social media in 2022, with some influencers claiming it works like Botox. The banana peel is the very symbol of food waste, so the idea that we could use it for such a widely sought outcome is enticing. Is there any truth to it at all?
First, we should set one thing straight: banana peels, if they do anything at all to your skin, certainly don’t ‘work like Botox’. Botox, or botulinum toxin, is a neurotoxin that is injected beneath the skin to paralyse facial muscles. It does this by blocking the release of neurotransmitters from nerves that carry electrical signals from your brain to the muscle. This keeps the muscle in a relaxed state, preventing some unwanted wrinkles.
Bananas do not contain any botulinum toxin – at least, they shouldn’t. If you’re ever unfortunate enough to eat food containing botulinum toxin, you have a pretty high chance of death. Banana skins do, however, contain many beneficial compounds. These include things like polyphenols, carotenoids, and other antioxidants. Antioxidants combat a phenomenon called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the result of harmful metabolic byproducts that react with DNA and other important molecules, damaging them in the process and contributing to skin ageing. Antioxidants react with these byproducts before they get a chance to do any damage, potentially protecting the skin against ageing. Thus, delivering antioxidants to the skin could theoretically slow the formation of wrinkles.
Antioxidants are all beneficial when eaten, but when delivered topically to the skin via banana peel, it’s unknown whether they would have any effect. While many beauty products contain antioxidants, they are formulated to be absorbed by the skin. There are no scientific studies on whether topical application of banana peel has any significant effects on wrinkling, and even if it does, it’s unlikely to be as beneficial as commercial antioxidant-containing creams (though frankly, even these creams are of questionable effectiveness). In any case, banana peel is certainly not going to have anywhere near the impact of a Botox injection.
Others claim that banana peels can moisturise and brighten the skin. These claims are a little more believable, but still ultimately unsupported by scientific evidence.
So, what on Earth are you to do with that mountain of banana peels you’ve been stockpiling? Well, don’t throw them in the trash just yet. While they might not do any good for your face, banana peels are still exceptionally rich in antioxidants, as are most other fruit peels. The antioxidants are there to protect the plants from external sources of damage like UV radiation, so they tend to be concentrated in the skin – the part we are most likely to discard. If you really want to benefit from the antioxidants within, your best bet might just be to eat them. In fact, banana peels are such a good source of antioxidants that researchers have studied ways of extracting them for use in food and pharmaceuticals, such as by making powders that could be mixed into flour.
Rubbing banana peels on your face is unlikely to do you any harm unless you are allergic. However, while claims about the banana peel’s antioxidant contents are accurate, you won’t benefit much or at all from these compounds unless you eat them.
Title image by juliakuzenkov, Upslash
Development and characterization of blends formulated with banana peel and banana pulp for the production of blends powders rich in antioxidant properties https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-019-03999-w
Phenolic compounds and antioxidants activity of banana peel extracts: Testing and optimization of enzyme-assisted conditions https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meafoo.2023.100085