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Watermelon Days

Cathy Christensen July 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
woman eating watermelon

Who doesn’t have an affection for this fruit that is the epitome of summer?Juicy, sweet with a bright pinkish-red flesh dotted with black and white seeds, watermelon is difficult to eat and prepare without getting messy—but that’s sometimes part of the fun. A fruit that can be as delicious as candy, the mere mention of it conjures visions of blue skies, green grass and sticky fingers. But because of its novelty, watermelon’s nutritional and skin care benefits often can be overlooked.

Watermelon is the lycopene leader in fresh produce, having higher concentrations of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable, even fresh tomatoes. It also promotes cardiovascular health, and a two-cup serving is an excellent source of vitamins A, B-6 and C.1

Thought to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa, approximately 200–300 varieties of watermelon grow in the United States and Mexico, and the most popular are seeded, seedless, mini or personal-sized, and yellow- or orange-fleshed watermelons. The United States ranks fourth in overall watermelon production, with Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas ranking as production leaders.2

In the kitchen

Watermelon is commonly used in salads, soups and desserts, as well as being enjoyed all on its own.

It is a favorite of spa cuisine chefs and is used is a variety of seasonal dishes, including the Jumbo Lump Crabmeat and Watermelon Salad at Aji Spa’s café at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Chandler, Arizona; and the Chilled Watermelon and Mint Soup at Sense, A Rosewood Spa at Little Dix Bay in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. At the Canyon Ranch Grill in Miami Beach, Florida, guests can enjoy the Seared Watermelon With Tomato Salad with Red Wine Vinegar Syrup and Basil Seed; and Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, serves the Watermelon and Roasted Baby Beets Salad with Goat Cheese and Fennel. Also, try the recipe for Watermelon Consommé With Black Pepper and Olive Oil Sorbet from Executive Chef James Overbaugh and Sous Chef Brandon Weaver of The Peninsula Beverly Hills, home of The Peninsula Spa.

In the spa

Watermelon seed oil and watermelon extract are both highly sought-after ingredients in spa products and treatments. Watermelon seed oil, also known as ootanga and kalahari oil, is rich in omega-6 and -9 essential fatty acids, is highly moisturizing, and helps dissolve sebum buildup and restore elasticity.3 It is often used in baby formulations, creams, lotions, soaps and eye creams.4 Watermelon extract also aids in protecting some cell structures from damage by UV-induced radicals and decreases redness after UV exposure. It helps protect the skin against daily stress induced by UV light and free radicals too, and is used in pre-sun products and body lotions, as well as day, night and sun care creams.5

Keystone Lodge & Spa in Keystone, Colorado, offers the Coco-Luscious body therapy that finishes with a hydration drench of Watermelon and Papaya Body Butter Souffle; and the Luscious Body Wrap at Black Bear Resort in Port McNeill, British Columbia, Canada, includes a full-body massage with watermelon, papaya and virgin coconut oils to help replenish firmness and moisture. At the Ace Hotel Spa in Palm Springs, California, the Good Body Polish concludes with an application of cooling cucumber and watermelon seed body tonic; and the tween and teen set can enjoy a Watermelon Foot and Hand Scrub at Gi Gi’s Elite Spa in Chicago. Also, check out the step-by-step how-to recipe for the Made Fresh Daily Cucumber and Watermelon Body Treatment from The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego.

Watermelon is commonly found in professional skin care products, as well, including Benev’s GF-DNA Serum, designed to help diminish the signs of aging and sun damage by accelerating DNA repair; and the Foot Soak & Rub from Elements by L’Auterre, which features watermelon seed oil that absorbs into the skin to help restore moisture. Éminence Organic Skin Care’s Watermelon Papaya Body Butter capitalizes on watermelon’s high antioxidant and vitamin content to help fight free radicals, and Cura Anti-Aging Night Serum from Isabella Pelle Beauty & Skincare Co. includes watermelon extract to help protect cells against UV damage and stress.

Bask in the benefits

Believe it or not, with all its sticky-fingered, fun-in-the-sun goodness, watermelon is equally good for the body, both inside and outside. Worship summer by adding some colorful—and extremely nutritious—watermelon to your menu, letting your clients bask in its benefits.


1. (Accessed May 1, 2009)

2. (Accessed May 1, 2009)

3. (Accessed May 1, 2009)

4. (Accessed May 1, 2009)

5. (Accessed May 4, 2009)

Related Content



Quick Facts: Watermelon

  • The first recorded watermelon harvest took place nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.2
  • Watermelon is 92% water.2
  • The watermelon is a cousin to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.2
  • Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.2
  • In 1990, Bill Carson of Arrington, Tennessee, grew the largest watermelon at 262 pounds.2
  • China is the world’s top producer of watermelons.2

Treatment How-to: Cucumber and Watermelon Body Treatment

From The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego 50 minutes

This summer, the spa will be offering a watermelon-cucumber Made Fresh Daily treatment. The Made Fresh Daily services are seasonal body treatments developed by the spa staff who work directly with the chefs at Rancho Bernardo Inn to source local products from nearby farms. With this treatment, clients will experience a soothing body mask made from watermelon pulp, a toner made from watermelon and cucumber to refresh and rehydrate, and a handmade lotion using watermelon juice for refreshment and rejuvenation.

Treatment duration:

Treatment cost: $150

Supplies needed for the Watermelon and Cucumber scrub/wrap, combine:

1⁄4 cup sea salt scrub

1 cup fresh watermelon

1 cup fresh cucumber

1⁄4 cup crushed watermelon seeds

1⁄4 cup aloe vera gel

For the Watermelon and Cucumber toner, combine:

1⁄4 cup floral waters of cucumber and watermelon

1⁄4 cup witch hazel

Cucumber lotion

Room setup:

Have a heated bed set up for a massage, placing a large blanket, foil, two sheets of plastic, one sheet and one bath towel on the bed. Have one large bath towel prepared in the warmer and another warm towel placed between the two pieces of plastic on the table.

Step 1: Greet your client, and ensure an intake form has been completed that details her medical history. Offer tea or water for a refreshing introduction to the treatment. Clients in the first trimester of pregnancy should not receive this treatment.

Step 2: Escort the client to a treatment room, and ask her to disrobe and lie face down on the treatment table.

Step 3: After allowing a sufficient amount of time, return to the room and ask if the client is comfortable, making any adjustments to the face rest and temperature of the heated bed, if necessary.

Step 4: Gently apply the watermelon and cucumber scrub with both circular and effleurage strokes, starting with the back and then moving to the legs. As the scrub/wrap is applied, the grinded watermelon seeds exfoliate the superior epidermis while delivering omega-6 and -9 essential fatty acids (EFAs) through the skin’s pores. These EFAs help strengthen and moisturize the skin’s cell membranes.

Step 5: After the posterior portion of the body has been exfoliated, with a soft voice, request the client roll onto her back and lie face up. Then apply the scrub/wrap to the anterior body.

Step 6: After the scrub/wrap is applied, wrap the client in the plastic and place a warm towel over the top of the plastic. Then continue to wrap the client in the additional layers of plastic, foil and blanket.

Step 7: While the client is wrapped, massage the face for 10 minutes using pressure points that will relax the mind. Next, place cucumber slices over the eyes and massage the scalp.

Step 8: Unwrap the client and escort her to the shower to rinse the scrub/wrap off with water.

Step 9: Prepare the room for the application of toner and cucumber lotion. Guide the client back to the room and instruct her to lie face down.

Step 10: Apply toner, which contains pure floral waters of watermelon and cucumber, to the back. Watermelon is loaded with vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant for increasing the integrity of skin collagen.

Step 11: After applying the toner to the back, massage cucumber lotion into the muscles. Mixed with oils and cucumber, this lotion cools and softens sun-exposed skin.

Step 12: After finishing the back, apply toner and lotion to legs, and then ask client to turn face up. Continue applying toner and lotion to legs, arms, chest, stomach—if requested—neck and face. The massage should take 20 minutes.

Step 13: Inform the client when the massage is complete, and invite her to slowly glide off the table and slip on a robe when she feels ready.

Step 14: Meet the client outside of the room, offering cool water infused with cucumber and lemon.

Step 15. Escort the client into a quiet meditation area to sit and relax in order to prolong the enjoyment of the treatment. Offer more water or tea, and encourage her to have a relaxing day. Once she feels ready, she may get dressed and lead herself back to the reception area.

Recipe: Watermelon Consommé With Black Pepper and Olive Oil Sorbet

From Executive Chef James Overbaugh and Sous Chef Brandon Weaver of The Peninsula Beverly Hills, home of The Peninsula Spa

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients for soup:

3 teaspoons fennel seed

3 teaspoons orange citrus powder

1 cup organic red watermelon meat, reserving the rind and extra melon

1 cup organic orange watermelon meat, reserving the rind and extra melon

1 cup organic yellow watermelon meat, reserving the rind and extra melon

6 tablespoons red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 teaspoons jalapeños, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons red onion, peeled and chopped

3 teaspoons shallot, peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove

1 celery stalk

4 tablespoons cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup pineapple

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

3 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice

2 tablespoons honey


1. Toast fennel seeds in a sauté pan with citrus powder.

2. Combine with all remaining ingredients in a high-speed blender, and pureé thoroughly.

3. Lay a piece of cheesecloth folded five times over a tall and narrow food storage container, taping the cheesecloth tightly to hold the pressure of the soup for an extended period of time. Make sure there is enough of a depression in the cheesecloth to hold the soup.

4. Slowly pour the soup into the cheesecloth, allowing it to filter through. This will strain all the impurities out of the soup, making it a mock consommé.

5. Place the container in the refrigerator, and allow the liquid to pass through the cheesecloth overnight.

Ingredients for sorbet:

1⁄2 cup white balsamic vinegar

12 cracked black peppercorns

1⁄2 cup sugar

1 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

1⁄8 cup first-press olive oil

1⁄4 cup water

6 tablespoons cup whipped egg whites


6. In a saucepan, bring all ingredients except the egg whites to a boil, then simmer for five minutes and chill.

7. Place egg whites in a mixing bowl and whip to soft peaks.

8. Fold the white balsamic mixture into the egg whites and freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer instructions.

9. Transfer to a storage container and freeze overnight.

Ingredients for pickling juice:

1 1⁄4 cup champagne vinegar

4 tablespoons salt

1⁄2 cup sugar

10 capsules cardamom

10 white peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

1⁄2 cup water


10. Peel the green off the reserved watermelon rinds and, with a melon baller, scoop only from the white. Create as many melon balls as you can. Extra is wonderful.

11. Bring all ingredients for the pickling brine to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add watermelon rind and cook for about 30 minutes until tender.

12. Remove and cool.

Ingredients for garnish:

8 orange segments

8 grapefruit segments

8 blood orange segments

8 balls red watermelon

8 balls orange watermelon

8 balls yellow watermelon

8 balls mango

1 teaspoon first-press olive oil

8 balls pickled watermelon rind


13. For each dish, cut segments of two oranges, two blood oranges and two grapefruit, and set aside.

14. Using a melon baller, scoop balls out of the three colors of reserved watermelon meat and set aside.

15. To finish the plate, place two of each of the citrus segments and melon balls with the pickled rind in each bowl and scoop sorbet into the centers. Gently ladle soup in and garnish with a slice of jambon serrano.

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