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By now, everyone's heard that the USDA has a new food pyramid and as usual the health-conscious folks at the Department of Agriculture are preaching the many benefits of a fruit-rich diet. We hear they "provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body" and we couldn't agree more. In fact, we may have found a loophole for those who can't keep up with their daily intake. Since some of our favorite beauty products are made with mango, papaya, and other delicious tropical fruits, we channeled Carmen Miranda and reconsidered our options. We decided not to worry about eating all those fruits and chose to simply douse our bodies from head to toe in them.
What could be more evocative of the tropics-or Gilligan's Island for that matter-than a coconut? Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, coconut oil probably kept Ginger looking her Hollywood best while stranded. Fans of the hairy fruit can opt for Bumble and Bumble's Crème De Coco shampoo ($19) and conditioner ($20), which revitalize the hair, especially during the summer months when it needs it most.
It not only tastes great on the grill if you're thinking of throwing a Hawaiian luau, but pineapple is vitamin-packed and good for your skin as well. C.O. Bigelow's Tropical Fruit Face Scrub ($18), which contains pineapple and papaya, is a refreshing treat for the face, exfoliating it with real fruit enzymes. Try not to eat it though.
Here's two easy recipes from Kristen Haines, owner of Tribeca's Euphoria Spa (www.euphoriaspanyc.com), a full-service haven that offers highly concentrated scrubs with pure fruit extracts, lots of vitamins, and high doses of antioxidants:
Mango and Pineapple Brown Sugar Scrub
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that digests dead cells to brighten the skin's appearance. The brown sugar has antioxidants and acts as a sloughing agent to get rid of rough, dry skin.
Remove the skin from two mangos and one pineapple and put in a blender for 30 seconds or until pureed.
Take 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/8 cup of avocado oil, and 1/8 cup of vegetable oil and mix in the fruit. Scrub your body in the shower with light circular motions.
Papaya Oatmeal Yogurt Scrub
The yogurt contains lactic acid and enzymes that balance the pH of the skin and exfoliate dead cells. The oatmeal acts as a sloughing agent.
Mix 1 cup of oatmeal and a whole papaya in the blender. Add a cup of yogurt and apply in circular motions to the body for a beautiful glow.
Christopher Columbus reputedly called papaya the "fruit of the angels." We wonder: Did Chris know the fruit is a natural skin softener or was he referring to its sweet taste? We'd like to think the former. Astara's Green Papaya Nutrient Mask ($37), which contains papaya extract and a bunch of other "living botanicals," gets rid of dead skin cells while hydrating the skin.
Native to India, the mango is good for chutney and even better for foaming up in the shower. Indulge your body in Kiehl's Bath and Shower Liquid Body Cleanser in Mango ($13), an exotic-scented wash that awakens you on those lazy mornings.
Did you know that the avocado (a/k/a the Alligator Pear) is considered an aphrodisiac in some cultures? Hmmm . . . makes us wonder, if you cover yourself in Crabtree & Evelyn's Avocado Oil Body Lotion ($17) will the boys come running? One thing's for sure, we'll have smooth skin.
A rich source of Vitamin C, guava is said to stimulate collagen synthesis, which is key in skin care. Korres Guava Body Butter ($19.50) does the trick for those extra-dry patches on your elbows, heels, and knees.
It's been called "nature's most labor-intensive fruit" because of all the effort it takes to break apart and remove the seeds. We prefer to leave the work to someone else and apply our pomegranate in the form of Murad Waterproof Sunblock SPF 30 ($35) instead. The "radical-fighting ingredients," like pomegranate extract, stand up to the scorching sun so that we can just lay back and enjoy.
Supposedly the most popular fruit in America, the banana is said to be an instant source of energy, so why not give your lips a little boost? Stila's Lip Glaze ($20) comes in more shades (Papaya, Guava, Pomegranate, Watermelon) than Skittles and lets your pout look luscious and smell delicious. We especially love Banana, a mocha-colored gloss that makes our kissers extra enticing-and we presume popular.
That was one delectable fruit salad. Admit it, you feel healthier already! Now we need to start working on our veggies . . .