A host of suppliers specializing in capsaicin topical treatments have emerged onto the market in the past several years and offer a multitude of products targeting skin care. Greensations®, a company developing natural alternatives for skin care and scalp health, have a line of products that combines caffeine and capsaicin. ThermaScalp™, ThermaSkin™ and ThermaFeet™ each use a unique combination of capsaicin and caffeine, along with other soothing herbals and antioxidants to aid in skin regeneration, follicle growth, and increased blood circulation. The result of these products is fast relief for itchy skin, mild irritation and pain associated with ailments such as psoriasis; and scalp conditions such as dandruff. Greensations® capsaicin-based products run anywhere from $10 – $20 and are available at www.greensations.com.
In addition to topical pain and irritation relief, capsaicin has been shown to lessen the effects of aging, dramatically reducing the appearance of fine lines. Blair Lazar, the mastermind behind the popular and potent “Blair’s Death Sauces” hot sauce line, created a revolutionary anti-wrinkle cream called Biocap® after accidentally exposing his face to capsaicin in the lab. The effects of the capsaicin were clear after the initial swelling went down—tighter, smoother skin. The discovery led to Biocap®, an anti-wrinkle cream that uses the capsaicin compound to increase collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Today, the original Biocap® retails for $54.00 and is available online at www.blairlab.com. Biocap® has a large following of devoted customers who continue to see improvement in deep aging lines with each new application of the capsaicin-based cream. “Short of surgery, I was willing to try anything that might help, even a little,” says Mary Jane Wilan, a long-time devotee of Blair’s Biocap®. “I am seeing that some of my deep wrinkles (smile lines) are not as bad as they once were.”
Chile Pepper Facials
So, are hot-sauce facials in our future? Not exactly. Obtaining glowing skin from capsaicin isn’t as easy as rubbing your face with chile peppers—believe me, I tried it. Conventional at-home face masks usually contain a neutral base such as yogurt or mud, and an exfoliant or acid, such as honey or oatmeal. The effect of face masks can be soothing—exfoliating your skin and treating it to a blast of antibacterial and moisturizing action.
With this in mind, I combined several variations of what could have been a soothing, capsaicin-infused facial—ground red chile pods and seeds, mild hot pepper powder from the grocery store, a mild hot sauce, mixed in different quantities with plain Greek yogurt. After several attempts at an at-home remedy, my skin was puffy, red, and irritated. The chile pods left angry patches of skin on my inner arm, and the chile powder stained my skin an unattractive shade of neon orange. (Did you think I’d try this on my face first? Not a chance!)
While I had no luck in creating a recipe for a homemade chile mask, perhaps others out there might.* In the meantime, I’ll stick to the well-researched, extensively-tested products already on the market.
* If you come up with a safe and pre-tested recipe of your own, send it in to www.fiery-foods.com, and we’ll see if it works…maybe.
Kelli Bergthold is a freelance writer in Albuquerque, New Mexico and a Creative Writing student at the University of New Mexico. Raised in a family of foodies, and the daughter of a devoted chile-head, she spends far too much time thinking, eating, and writing about food.