Fall’s favorite gourd and skin care: Study shows pumpkins may have cosmetic value

By Ravyn Cullor

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images - Olga Krivokoneva
© Getty Images - Olga Krivokoneva

Related tags natural beauty Botanical extracts Ingredients Natural cosmetics Skin care study Skin health

During autumn in the US, pumpkins can be found on porches, in seasonal dishes and infused into lattes, but a research team believes they might also belong in cosmetics.

A research team out of Thailand, Chanpirom et al., recently published a paper in the journal Cosmetics investigating the cosmetic ingredient potential of two types of pumpkin used around the world.

Both traditional pumpkins and Japanese pumpkins, which are commonly used in food in Thailand, contain polysaccharides, carotenoids, mineral elements and amino acids. Chanpirom et al.also said pumpkins show promise with antioxidant, antimicrobial, antidiabetic and hypoglycemic effects.

The research team said polysaccharides from plant origins are believed to have bioactive properties and are already used from several sources for improving skin moisture and antioxidants, anticoagulant, antiviral, immune-inflammatory and antilipidemic activity.

“Over the last decade, polysaccharides derived from plants were used as natural active ingredients for cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries,”​ Chanpirom et al. said.

Antioxidant and moisturizing activity

Outside of characterizing some of the physiochemical properties of traditional and Japanese pumpkins, Chanpirom et al. sought to test some of the bioactivity metrics that have cosmetic value.

In previous DPPH radical scavenging tests to identify antioxidant activity, polysaccharides from the cucurbit plants, which include gourds like pumpkin, watermelon, squash and cucumber, showed antioxidant potential.

Chanpirom et al. found that traditional pumpkin extract performed as an antioxidant comparably to one of the antioxidants commonly used on the market, l-ascorbic acid. The research team also found that the Japanese pumpkin extract performed better than traditional pumpkins.

They also tested Japanese pumpkins for their moisturizing effects. 

“Polysaccharide, mainly from natural sources, is widely used as a natural moisturizer in the cosmetic industry,”​ Chanpirom et al. said. “From the skin irritation test, pumpkin polysaccharide is shown to be safe and its moisturizing effect could be further tested on the volunteers’ skin.”

Over a short period, the Japanese pumpkin extract was able to improve moisture over a short period of time. However, over a longer period, the extract was not as effective and overall Chanpirom et al. said Japanese pumpkin did not perform better than hyaluronic acid.

Extract has potential

Both extracts show antioxidant activity and the addition of hydration effects of Japanese pumpkin makes it a promising candidate for anti-aging and hydrating personal care products, Chanpirom et al. said.

However, the research team did not say in what direction further research on pumpkin extracts should go.


Title: “Alternative Utilization of Vegetable Crop: Pumpkin Polysaccharide Extract and Their Efficacy on Skin Hydration”

Author: Chanpirom et al. 

Source: Cosmetics 2022, 9(6), 113;​ (registering DOI)

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