Current Issue cover

A Hot Little Number

Contact Author Cathy Christensen September 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

Thank you for your inquiry. Please note that the author cannot provide individual medical advice. Also, if you have a customer service question, email customer service at

Fill out my online form.
ariel view of peppers

Peppers are a common addition to both everyday and gourmet cooking, with a huge range of flavors, textures and colors that support many entrees. Who knew the red pepper also had a secret ingredient that can help with anti-aging whims and circulation woes. Although not recommended as a food for those who suffer from rosacea, red pepper is becoming a hot addition to many spas’ anti-aging arsenals.

In the kitchen

Summer and early fall are the seasons red peppers are at their peak for flavor, and those with deep, vivid colors, taut, clear skin and healthy-looking green stems are the best choices for cuisine. The spicy veggies provide a heaping helping of alpha tocopheral vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, and have more vitamin Cthan oranges. Lycopene, which is becoming famous for lowering men’s risk of prostate cancer, is what provides the bright red color of the plant, and although red bell peppers and red hot peppers are in the same family, red hot peppers have higher levels of capsaicin, which gives the hot pepper its heat and is being researched for its affect on fat cells.1 In fact, researchers recently found that capsaicin prevented early fat cells from becoming full-fledged fat cells.2

A colorful ingredient in Ludlow, Vermont’s, Green Mountain at Fox Run’s Summertime Potato Salad, red bell pepper can also be found in Gilman, Illinois’, The Heartland Spa’s Chili Seared Salmon with Sweet Pepper Salsa. Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa in Ainsworth Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada offers a Roasted Red Pepper Soup, and the pepper is a star ingredient in the Vegetable Lasagna at Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah. Check out the delicious Spa Burrito from Executive Chef William Mendez at New Age Health Spa in Neversink, New York.

In the spa

Log in or Subscribe for FREE to read the full story.

Red hot peppers are No. 7 on Nicholas Perricone, MD’s Superfoods list because of their capsaicin. It helps relieve headaches, arthritis and sinus pain. In spa services, red pepper is often used in body treatments due to its anti-inflammatory abilities. Nuclear transcription factors (NTF) in the human body, largely responsible for cancer and premature skin aging, are activated by ultraviolet light and free radicals. NTFs can be blocked by capsaicin. And capsaicin also is being hailed as a fat-burner, increasing overall metabolic activity and helping the body burn fat and calories.3

The Deep Tissue Massage at Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa in Lake Placid, New York, features optional thermal red pepper oil that creates a deep-heating sensation to help relieve sore muscles, and the Oleaslim & Black Moor Mud Sculpture Wrap at Skinsations Spa in Sacramento, California, features a blend of essential oils, including red pepper, to increase circulation and reduce the appearance of cellulite. At Pantages Spa in Toronto, the Chocolate Souffle Wrap features a combination of thermal mud, cocoa and red pepper to slim and detoxify, and the Contouring Mud Stone Wrap from Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, Ontario, Canada, uses red pepper to help activate circulation and tighten skin. Another detoxifying treatment can be enjoyed at Wiesia Salon & Spa in Toronto, with the red pepper-infused Mud Wrap.

Professional skin care products also feature the benefits of red hot pepper and red bell pepper’s powdered form, paprika, as well. Murad offers two skin care products using the benefits of hot pepper to invigorate circulation: Firm and Tone Serum and Activating Body Scrub. Éminence Organic Skin Care’s Paprika Herbal Treatment assists in stimulating cellular repair and blood circulation while also detoxifying and improving acne, and Derma Elite Advanced Skincare offers Capsicum Hot Rub to relieve sore, aching muscles. Finally, Szép Elét’s ilike Hungarian Paprika Gel Treatment increases metabolism and helps collagen formation.

A hot addition

Red peppers add a bite to cuisine and body services, providing incredible antioxidant, fat-burning, circulatory and anti-inflammation benefits. Add this hot little number to your menus to add a spicy kick to the services and cuisine in your spa.





Related Content



Recipe: Spa Burrito

From Executive Chef William Mendez at New Age Health Spa in Neversink, New YorkSpa burrito

Makes 8 servings, 239 calories per serving


2 cups boiled and pureed black beans

1 cup sliced red bell pepper

1 cup sliced green bell pepper

4 chopped garlic cloves

2 cups julienned onion

2 cups medium diced or shredded zucchini

2⁄3 cup sweet corn kernels

2 cups medium diced tomato

1 teaspoon chili powder

1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

2 cups part skim milk mozzarella cheese

8 low-fat refrigerated flour tortillas

Instructions for bean puree:

1. Drain cooked beans and place in food processor. Puree the beans on low until smooth. If beans are too dry, add a little water or lime juice to moisten them.

Instructions for vegetable mixture:

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.

2. Place peppers, onions and garlic in the pan, and sauté until soft.

3. Add tomato; cook an additional five minutes.

4. Add the zucchini, corn kernels, tomato and spices; sauté for another five minutes.

5. Remove from heat and set aside.

To build the burrito:

1. Place the tortilla on a flat surface and spread 1/4 cup of bean puree over the top.

2. Spoon about 1/3 cup of vegetable mixture over the tortilla and spread evenly.

3. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese over the burrito filling and roll up.

4. Place the burrito on a baking sheet and heat in a 350°F oven for five minutes before serving.

Red Pepper: Quick Facts

  • Christopher Columbus found red peppers when he tasted what he thought were hot berries in the Caribbean.3
  • Columbus thought he was in India, where black pepper was found, so he called the berries “red pepper.”3
  • Before Columbus, however, native people in the Americas had been enjoying the peppers for approximately 7,000 years.3
  • Peppers are from the genus “capsicum,” from the Greek word kapto which means “to bite.”3
  • The types of peppers range from the sweet green pepper to the habeñero and lethal Scotch bonnet.3

Next image >