Fad or Fixture: Watermelon as more than a summer treat


Watermelon is popping up more and more in both mainstream and indie beauty products. It is the hero of the Glow Recipe product line and commonly touted in K-Beauty. Too Faced even created a watermelon scented foundation. Watermelon has also made its way into ingestibles, with Melonaid protein powders from Dope Naturally loaded with sprouted watermelon seeds. Earlier this month Shape Magazine even wrote a piece where they declared Kalahari Melon Oil, a type of watermelon, the newest beauty craze!

We love watermelon just as much as anyone, but we were curious how beneficial it is for your skin and health and what’s the best method to achieve the benefits?

Historical Use

Watermelon is native to the Kalahari desert and the first recorded history traces back 5,000 years to a settlement in Libya. It was originally a water-dense ,bitter fruit and more yellow in color. Due to its long “shelf life” it was valued as a water source and often stockpiled for dry seasons. Traces of watermelon are also found in Egyptian tombs. They often buried their dead with watermelon as a source of water for them on their long journey to the afterlife.

Over time the watermelon was harvested and grown to increase its sweetness. The same traits that increased the sweetness were also responsible for the change in color from yellow to the red color we know and love today.

Global trade marked the expansion of watermelon to Europe and Asia. It made its way to North America alongside the slave trade. Today, Asian countries consume the largest amount of watermelon per capita than any other countries.


What is in a watermelon and are all watermelons created equal?

Fortunately for us, watermelon has many benefits both externally and internally.

The fruit itself can get up to 92% water, making it an amazing source of re-hydration and electrolytes and the perfect pick-me up after a workout.

The red color is not just for fun. The more ripe and brighter the color, the higher the content of lycopene. In contrast to other lycopene rich foods likes tomatoes, the lycopene in watermelon is available to the body as soon as it is ingested, which helps you to yield its benefits faster.

Lycopene is a powerful carotenoid and antioxidant. This basically means that it kicks butt when it comes to prevention of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases, minimizing free-radicals, promoting anti-aging, reducing gingivitis and gum disease, and improving lung function for asthmatics.

When ingested, lycopene helps to protect the skin from UV damage. It is also proven that when applied topically, it increases the antioxidant activity in skin tissue, which is what yields brighter skin. When applied topically, lycopene is also proven to improve hyperpigmentation, smooth wrinkles and overall texture, reduce pores and minimize redness.

It also contains high levels of vitamin A which is responsible for healthy skin, sebum production and cell turnover. In fact, according to the USDA, one serving of watermelon contains 31% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A and 37% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. We hear about vitamin C all of the time and that is because it is essential for collagen production, meaning it helps to keep you looking younger longer!

Watermelon seeds are the sneaky secret to many of the beauty products on the market. Depending on the variety of watermelon, they can contain upwards of 50% oil, which is rich in protein and magnesium. Ingesting or using as an oil are proven to moisturize the skin, prevent breakouts, and brighten the complexion. Protein, magnesium and copper in watermelon help to restore dry and brittle hair and reduce hair loss.

Is it sustainable?

While watermelon is heavily ingested, watermelon seeds are often considered agrowaste. Converting to watermelon seed oil would maximize the use of the fruit.

Fun fact: a study on the use of watermelon flour in cakes demonstrated that substituting watermelon flour enhanced the overall nutrition (fiber content and antioxidant levels) and serves as a method for more sustainable use of the watermelon rind, which is currently considered agrowaste.

There is opportunity to further utilize the powerful fruit to capitalize on all of its benefits. The next time you have an option, go for the watermelon with seeds.

watermelon cocktail

We are curious to hear your thoughts below. What do you think? Is this a fad or beauty industry fixture? Personally we love how it keeps our skin youthful and tastes delicious. It has become a skincare staple and we definitely think this should be a fixture in health and beauty!



  1. The 5,000-Year Secret History of the Watermelon Ancient Hebrew texts and Egyptian tomb paintings reveal the origins of our favorite summertime fruit. By Mark Strauss, National Geographic PUBLISHED August 21, 2015 https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150821-watermelon-fruit-history-agriculture/

  2. Watermelon Packs a Powerful Lycopene Punch USDA AgResearch Magazine, Jennifer Arnold, June 2002 https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2002/jun/lyco EXCLI J. 2014; 13: 650–660. Published online 2014 Jun 3. PMCID: PMC4464475 PMID: 26417290

  3. Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464475/ Ambreen Naz,*,1 Masood Sadiq Butt,2 Muhammad Tauseef Sultan,3 Mir Muhammad Nasir Qayyum,4 and Rai Shahid Niaz5 J Pharm Sci. 2010 Mar;99(3):1346-57. doi: 10.1002/jps.21929.

  4. Topical delivery of lycopene using microemulsions: enhanced skin penetration and tissue antioxidant activity. Lopes LB1, VanDeWall H, Li HT, Venugopal V, Li HK, Naydin S, Hosmer J, Levendusky M, Zheng H, Bentley MV, Levin R, Hass MA. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19798758 Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2015;16(12):1063-9.

  5. The Effect in Topical Use of Lycogen(TM) via Sonophoresis for Anti-aging on Facial Skin. Hsin-Ti L, Wen-Sheng L, Yi-Chia W, Ya-Wei L, Wen ZH, David WH1,2, Su-Shin L. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26238679

  6. Watermelon: Health benefits, nutrition, and risks Medical News Today. Last updated Tue 20 June 2017. By Megan Ware RDN LD. Reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266886.php

  7. Reetapa Biswas, Tiyasa Dey and Santa Datta (De). 2016 “A comprehensive review on watermelon seed – The spitted one“, International Journal of Current Research, 8, (08),35828-35832. http://www.journalcra.com/sites/default/files/16829.pdf

  8. Betty Tabiri, Jacob K. Agbenorhevi, Faustina D. Wireko-Manu, Elsa I. Ompouma. Watermelon Seeds as Food: Nutrient Composition, Phytochemicals and Antioxidant Activity. International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences. Vol. 5, No. 2, 2016 pp. 139-144. doi: 10.11648/j.ijnfs.20160502.18 Received: March 7, 2016; Accepted: March 18, 2016; Published: March 30, 2016 http://article.sciencepublishinggroup.com/html/10.11648.j.ijnfs.20160502.18.html

Additional Reference Articles:

  1. Consumption of Watermelon Juice Increases Plasma Concentrations of Lycopene and β-Carotene in Humans Alison J. Edwards Bryan T. Vinyard Eugene R. Wiley Ellen D. Brown Julie K. Collins Penelope Perkins-Veazie Robert A. Baker Beverly A. Clevidence The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 133, Issue 4, 1 April 2003, Pages 1043–1050, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/133.4.1043 https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/133/4/1043/4688088

  2. Scarmo S, Cartmel B, Lin H, et al. Significant correlations of dermal total carotenoids and dermal lycopene with their respective plasma levels in healthy adults. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics. 2010;504(1):34-39. doi:10.1016/j.abb.2010.07.004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957565/

  3. J Nutr. 1995 Jul;125(7):1854-9. Skin lycopene is destroyed preferentially over beta-carotene during ultraviolet irradiation in humans. Ribaya-Mercado JD1, Garmyn M, Gilchrest BA, Russell RM. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7616301

  4. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2006 Feb;5(2):238-42. Epub 2005 Aug 12. Lycopene-rich products and dietary photoprotection. Stahl W1, Heinrich U, Aust O, Tronnier H, Sies H. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16465309

  5. Franco RD, Calvanese M, Murino P, et al. Skin toxicity from external beam radiation therapy in breast cancer patients: protective effects of Resveratrol, Lycopene, Vitamin C and anthocianin (Ixor®). Radiation Oncology (London, England). 2012;7:12. doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3283474/

  6. Naz A, Butt MS, Sultan MT, Qayyum MMN, Niaz RS. Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims. EXCLI Journal. 2014;13:650-660. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464475/