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A Passionate Affair

Contact Author Cathy Christensen February 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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passion fruit

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Although the name “passion fruit” seems to indicate a fruit that can induce an aphrodisiac response through its consumption, the name actually has religious connotations. Acquiring its moniker from Spanish missionaries who believed that the plant’s flower resembled different religious symbols, passion fruit is a native of the rain forest margins in the Amazon region of Brazil.1 There are many species of the fruit grown worldwide, with New Zealand passion fruit being purple and the Hawaiian variety yellow.2

In the kitchen

This egg-shaped tropical fruit has a brittle, wrinkled, inedible rind that encloses flesh-covered seeds, similar to a pomegranate. The seeds are edible, so the pulp can be eaten straight from the shell. It also can be sieved, with the pulp and juice used as flavoring for sauces and beverages. An excellent source of vitamins A and C, the fruit has an intense, aromatic flavor and the pulp has a jellylike watery texture. To eat, cut the fruit in half and scoop out the fleshy pulp.2

Spa cuisine chefs have been mining the riches of this tropical treat for years, with or without the seeds, using it to add a special zest to a variety of dressings, sauces and desserts, including the following:

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Carrot Energizer and Green Energy smoothies—Novo Spa, Toronto, Ontario, Canada;

Passion Fruit Soufflé—Breeze Spa at The Wakaya Club & Spa, Suva, Fiji Islands;

Passion Fruit Cheesecake—Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico;

Yellowtail Snapper Ceviche with Passion Fruit and Coconut Gelée—Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key, Florida;

Paradise Salad with Grilled Chicken and Passion Fruit Vinaigrette—Spa Gregorie’s Day Spa & Salon, Del Mar, California; and

Exotic Martini—See this recipe from Pastry Chef Nathaniel Reid, St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, California.

In the spa

The merits of the passion fruit in skin care and wellness don’t stop at its aromatherapeutic benefits. The crushed passion fruit seeds often are used as an exfoliator, helping to cleanse and smooth skin, and beyond that, the seeds have also shown evidence of improving skin health by inhibiting melanogenesis in melanoma cells.3

Another wellness benefit that can be enjoyed courtesy of the passion fruit is a better night’s sleep because it contains harman and harmine, phytochemicals that are slightly sedative.4

Some spa treatments capitalizing on passion fruit include:

Lilikoi Fruit Melody, featuring a body exfoliation using Hawaiian passion fruit and island sugarcane—Spa Helani at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii;

The Quintessential, a package that begins with a passion fruit, mango and pineapple fruit scrub—Oasis Day Spa, Columbia, Maryland;

15% Organic Passion Fruit Peptide Peel—Dermagenix Medical Spa, Houston, Texas;

Passion Fruit Citrus Body Treatment, which is uplifting, refreshing and stimulating—Kahana Bay Day Spa, Troy, Missouri;

Organic Passion Fruit Peel, blending passion fruit, papaya and pineapple for hydration and exfoliation—Body and Soul Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona;

Gentlemen’s Hydrating Facial, combining passion fruit, papaya and peptides to moisturize and decrease redness in male skin—Professional Skin Aesthetics, Danville, California; and

Sweet Passion Peel, which rejuvenates overworked skin with a passion fruit peptide peel—See step-by-step how-to from Sweet Skin Spa in Seattle.

Professional skin care product manufacturers are also passionate about this multitalented fruit, and include it in a variety of products.

Fake Bake’s Passion Fruit Body Polish helps restore skin’s moisture balance while natural exfoliators slough away dead skin cells.

Image Skincare’s I Peel 15% Organic Passion Fruit/Peptide Resurfacing Solution helps hydrate and rejuvenate skin.

BABOR’s HSR 28 Perfect Effect helps prevent elasticity loss using pro-elastin, as well as passion fruit, black currant and vine leaf extracts.

Issimo International’s Relax! Refining Body Exfoliant detoxifies and removes dead skin cells using passion fruit, walnut and cocoa shell powders, and lavender oil.

Antiqua Prima’s Rejuvenate Passion Guava Exfoliating Mask exfoliates skin using salicylic acid, L-lactic acid and retinol, along with passion fruit and pink guava flavanoids.

Yon-Ka Paris’s Lait Auto-Bronzant is a self-tanning lotion that includes passion fruit, lemon and vitamin E.

And Pevonia Botanica’s Mango-Passion Fruit De-Aging Saltmousse removes impurities by gently polishing skin and includes repairing tropical fruit extracts for smooth skin.

Feed your passion

Passion fruit’s seemingly endless skin care benefits and slightly tart, full flavor work together to make it a spa powerhouse, providing a tropical take on the typical spa menu. Discover what benefits from this passionate treat your clients will enjoy, and don’t hold back—feed their passion!


1. (Accessed Nov 20, 2009)

2. (Accessed Nov 19, 2009)

3.; Y Matsui, T Takahashi, M Kamei, T Ito and Y Katagata, Effect of Passion Fruit on Skin Health. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 841 557–562 (Accessed Nov 19, 2009)

4. (Accessed Nov 16, 2009)

5. (Accessed Nov 20, 2009)

Related Content



Quick Facts: Passion Fruit

  • The leaves of many of the species of Passiflora, the flowers on passion fruit vines, have been used for centuries by indigenous tribes as sedatives or calming tonics.1


  • Passion fruit is still used today in South American traditional medicine techniques.1


  • Passion fruit is also known as a purple granadilla, which means “little pomegranate” in Spanish.2


  • Botanically, the passion fruit is a berry and grows on a vine.5


  • To select the best-tasting passion fruit, choose those that are heavy with slightly wrinkled skin.5

Recipe: Exotic Martini

From Pastry Chef Nathaniel Reid, St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, California

Makes 6 servings, 250 calories, 1.9 grams of fat

Ingredients for passion fruit mint granite:

3⁄4 cup passion fruit juice

2⁄5 cup red guava juice

15 mint leaves

1⁄2 cup sugar

Preparation for passion fruit mint granite:

1. Simmer the passion fruit juice, mint and sugar in a large saucepan for 10 minutes, then remove from heat.

2. Combine passion fruit mixture with guava juice and freeze.

3. When frozen, scrape the mixture with a fork to make large flaked ice.

Ingredients for soy milk rice pudding:

1⁄2 cup arborio rice

1 cup soy milk

1⁄2 Tahitian vanilla bean

3 strips orange peel

2 tablespoons sugar

Preparation for soy milk rice pudding:

4. Wash the arborio rice in cold water and drain.

5. Add all the remaining rice pudding ingredients to a large saucepan and simmer until rice is tender.

Ingredients for tropical fruit soup:

3⁄8 cup passion fruit juice

3⁄8 cup mango juice

3⁄8 cup red guava juice

4-inch piece fresh lemongrass

1⁄2 Tahitian vanilla bean

1 pod star anise

1⁄3 cup sugar

Preparation for tropical fruit soup:

6. Bring passion fruit juice, lemongrass, vanilla bean and star anise to a light boil for 60 minutes, and then remove the spices.

7. Combine the passion fruit mixture with mango juice and guava juice.

8. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Ingredients for fruit salad:

1 piece kiwi

1⁄4 piece pineapple

1⁄2 piece mango

6 strawberries

10 blackberries

Crystallized mint leaf

Oven-dried pineapple slice

Preparation for Exotic Martini:

9. Wash, peel and dice the fruit for the fruit salad, and mix it together.

10. Place three spoonfuls of rice pudding in the bottom of a martini glass.

11. Place three spoonfuls of fruit salad on the rice pudding.

12. Place two spoonfuls of tropical fruit soup on top of fruit salad.

13. Place one large spoonful of passion fruit mint granite on top.

14. Garnish with a crystallized mint leaf and oven-dried pineapple.

Treatment How-to: Sweet Passion Peel

From Sweet Skin Spa, Seattle

This is one of the sweet treat facials offered at Sweet Skin Spa. It can work with various skin conditions and lifestyles. This facial is for unbalanced, dehydrated, sensitive, aging skin, and is also great for clients who are pregnant, smokers or travelers. It is a Level 1 peel, meaning it offers a superficial peel, one to three days of light exfoliation, and little or no flaking.

Treatment duration: 45 minutes

Treatment cost: $85–150

Room setup:

Treatment bed

Dim lighting

Equipment needed:

Cool water

Facial sponges

Sterile container

Glycolic swabs


Supplies needed:

Vitamin C cleanser

Balancing cleanser

15% passion fruit peptide peel

25% idebenone facial enhancer

Balancing soothing mask

25% hyaluronic acid

Balancing antioxidant serum

Peptide cream

Vitamin C eye gel or cream

Organic SPF 30 sunscreen

Lip enhancement gel

Step 1: Greet the client, offer a glass of water and request the completion of a medical history form. Escort the client into the treatment room and address any questions or concerns the client may have in regard to her skin or that may have come up on the form. If the client is allergic to idebenone, this step of the treatment can be removed. Tell the client you are going to leave to allow her to disrobe, and ask her to lie down, face up, under the covers on the treatment bed.

Step 2: After coming back into the room, begin the service by cleansing the skin using the vitamin C cleanser for one to two minutes, then remove the cleanser with cool water and sponges.

Step 3: Next, cleanse with the balancing cleanser for one minute using a circular and relaxing motion. Remove with sponges and cold water, and rinse a second time with facial sponges and cold water.

Step 4: Pour 1/8 ounce of passion fruit peptide peel into a sterile container. Add four drops of 25% idebenone facial enhancer, and mix together thoroughly. Inform the client that the peel treatment is ready to begin. Set the timer for five minutes.

Step 5: Saturate a glycolic swab in the solution and begin at the forehead in a circular motion, then move to the right cheek, the chin, the left cheek and finally the nose and lip area. The entire solution is to be applied to the face in a thick layer. Once applied, do not massage or over-stimulate the skin. Allow the solution to penetrate naturally for five minutes.

Step 6: Remove the peel thoroughly with cold water and sponges. Repeat to ensure all the peel solution is removed. Allow the client to relax and enjoy the experience.

Step 7: Apply a very thick coat of the soothing mask with a glycolic swab. Leave on for one minute. Do not use steam. Remove with water and sponges.

Step 8: Apply two drops of 25% hyaluronic acid to the face and massage lightly. Allow to penetrate for 30 seconds before beginning the next step.

Step 9: Apply the antioxidant serum.

Step 10: Apply two drops of 25% idebenone facial enhancer directly to the skin and massage lightly for 30 seconds.

Step 11: Apply peptide cream and massage it on the face, neck and décolleté.

Step 12: Apply vitamin C eye gel or cream.

Step 13: Apply a generous amount of organic SPF 30 sunscreen for extra healing and hydration.

Step 14: Apply the lip enhancement gel to the entire lip area.

Step 15: Let the client know the treatment has concluded, and allow her to get dressed. Once dressed, escort her to the reception area, and advise her to drink water and discuss post-treatment needs to help heal and protect the skin. Also, inquire about a convenient time to schedule the next treatment, and always thank the client for allowing you to take care of her skin.

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