There are two types of people: those who will happily bite into a fresh tomato and those who, like me, are rightfully repulsed by its slimy, mealy texture. (I know, I know, I'm a bad Italian — although I do love a good tomato sauce.) But even the staunchest tomato-haters can get behind it as a beauty ingredient. According to dermatologists, tomato’s benefits for skin are so universally loved and lauded, they put pizza to shame.
What makes tomato extract such a great ingredient to feed your face? “It is rich in lycopene, which is a potent antioxidant,” Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology, tells The Zoe Report. As you probably know by now, antioxidants (like vitamins C and E, both of which are also found in tomato extract) are essential for skin health — they help protect the skin from free radicals caused by pollution. The antioxidant power of lycopene is next-level, though.
Dr. Mudgil says the carotenoid's protective nature guards against DNA damage and “helps prevent collagen breakdown,” leading to firmer, more youthful-looking skin over time. “Lycopene can help protect the skin from sun damage,” adds Dr. Devika Icecreamwala, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist with Icecreamwala Dermatology, in an email to TZR. “You should still definitely wear sunscreen, but you may get a little extra protection from using tomato extract.” In addition, she notes that the antioxidant has an anti-inflammatory effect, making it a must for handling redness, irritation, and acne.
All tomato-based skincare will have the above qualities… but cherry tomato skincare might be even better. “Cherry tomatoes contain more lycopene, so may have more antioxidant and collagen-protective effects,” Dr. Mudgil says. This is the basis for clean beauty brand Acaderma’s latest creation: ProPhagy.
"ProPhagy was sourced from the cherry tomato; we discovered this ingredient in our lab while working on a process called column chromatography,” Dr. Shuting Hu, Ph.D., a cosmetic scientist and the founder of Acaderma, tells The Zoe Report. “It is similar to fruit acid that helps your skin glow and appear more illuminated, while also being sensitive skin-friendly, since it isn't exfoliating.” The ingredient can be found in the brand's Lunar Glow Serum and is said to be 2.5 times more potent than vitamin C, as well as more readily absorbed into the skin. “I spent one year designing and testing the delivery system that helps ProPhagy penetrate the epidermis more efficiently," Dr. Hu says. "It is the most potent and stable ingredient I have ever studied, among more than 1,000 materials."
But wait — there’s more! Tomato extract even works as an ingestible beauty supplement. “Extensive new research has shown that an oral antioxidant supplement containing natural tomato extract, housing lycopene and other carotenoids, is the key to reviving inner glow,” Dr. Amanda Doyle, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist who works with Lycored, tells TZR. “Rather than downing multiple tomatoes daily, you can reap the benefits with a lycopene-rich ingestible, such as Lyma.” She prefers it over collagen supplements, and says oral lycopene has the same anti-inflammatory and sun-shielding effects as that of the topical variety.
Dr. Mudgil notes that “all skin types” can benefit from incorporating tomato into their regimen, although, “like any cosmetic product, there is potential, albeit rare, for skin sensitivity.” As always, patch test before trying a new product.
With that, I’m a tomato-hater no more. Ahead, eight ways to indulge in a slice of tomato (skincare) pie.