Nutrition is important for health. An unhealthy diet can damage your metabolism, cause weight gain, and even damage organs, such as your heart and liver. But what you eat also affects another organ — your skin. As scientists learn more about diet and the body, it’s increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin.
Fatty fish – salmon, mackerel, and herring, are excellent foods for healthy skin. They’re rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining skin health. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to help keep skin thick, supple, and moisturized. In fact, an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency can cause dry skin. The omega-3 fats in fish reduce inflammation, which can cause redness and acne. They can even make your skin less sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Some studies show that fish oil supplements may help fight inflammatory and autoimmune conditions affecting your skin, such as psoriasis and lupus. Fatty fish is also a source of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for your skin. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for helping protect your skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation.
Avocados – associated with more supple, springy skin. Preliminary evidence shows that avocados contain compounds that may help protect your skin from sun damage. UV damage to your skin can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging. Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage. Vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin. Your skin needs it to create collagen, which is the main structural protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy.
Walnuts – they’re richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Zinc is essential for your skin to function properly as a barrier. It’s also necessary for wound healing and combating both bacteria and inflammation. Walnuts also provide small amounts of the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, in addition to 4–5 grams of protein per ounce.
Sunflower seeds – One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds packs 49% of the DV for vitamin E, 41% of the DV for selenium, 14% of the DV for zinc, and 5.5 grams of protein.
Sweet potatoes – one 1/2-cup (100-gram) serving of baked sweet potato contains enough beta carotene to provide more than six times the DV of vitamin A. Also helps keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock, preventing sunburn, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin. Interestingly, high amounts of beta carotene may also add a warm, orange color to your skin, contributing to an overall healthier appearance.
Red or yellow bell peppers – Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. One cup (149 grams) of chopped red bell pepper contains the equivalent of 156% of the DV for vitamin A. They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for creating the protein collagen, which keeps skin firm and strong. A single cup (149 grams) of bell pepper provides an impressive 211% of the DV for vitamin C.
Broccoli – full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C (for collagen production). It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta carotene. Lutein helps protect your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled. But broccoli florets also pack a special compound called sulforaphane, which boasts some impressive potential benefits. It may even have anti-cancer effects, including on some types of skin cancer. Sulforaphane is likewise a powerful protective agent against sun damage. It works in two ways: neutralizing harmful free radicals and switching on other protective systems in your body.
Tomatoes – a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene. Beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene have been shown to protect your skin against damage from the sun. They may also help prevent wrinkling!
Soy – contains isoflavones, a category of plant compounds that can either mimic or block estrogen in your body. One small study involving middle-aged women found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks reduced fine wrinkles and improved skin elasticity. These isoflavones not only help to protect the cells inside your body from damage but also your skin from UV radiation — which may reduce the risk of some skin cancers.
Dark chocolate – After 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants each day, participants in one study experienced thicker, more hydrated skin. Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn, and had better blood flow — which brings more nutrients to your skin. Another study found that eating 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate per day could allow your skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning, compared with eating low-antioxidant chocolate Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to maximize the benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum!
Green tea – help protect your skin from sun damage and aging. Green tea also improves the moisture, roughness, thickness, and elasticity of the skin. While green tea is a great choice for healthy skin, you may want to avoid drinking your tea with milk, as there’s evidence that milk could reduce the effect of green tea’s antioxidants!
Red grapes – Resveratrol helps reduce the effects of aging by slowing the production of harmful free radicals. This beneficial compound is also found in red wine. Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that the amount of resveratrol you get from a glass of red wine is enough to affect your skin.
What you eat can significantly affect your skin health.
Make sure you’re getting enough essential nutrients to protect your skin. The foods on this list are great options to keep your skin healthy, strong, and attractive. Remember to drink enough water, as well!
There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding skincare “tips & tricks” and product recommendations. I really enjoy James Welsh’s YouTube channel, as he’s a skincare expert who can be trusted to go to for advice.
In his videos, he explains why certain skincare tips work or don’t, what skin type should incorporate what techniques, and more.
Some of the best tips from his videos that I continually practice:
Never use lemons or limes in your DIY skincare – they really dry out the skin!
Don’t place your masks or other topical treatments on your eyes – the skin on the eyes is very slim and sensitive, the chances of damaging the eyes are very high.
Always use eye protecting goggles when using light therapy treatments.
Apply actives after the moisturizer – a moisturizer creates a buffer before the toner, retinol, etc.
3-Finger Sunscreen Method – apply a strip of sunscreen on the longest three fingers and apply to the face and neck, blend in with a sponge or a puff for the product to properly sink into the skin.
You can use the same cleanser to double cleanse – these days most cleansers contain ingredients to properly deal with makeup residue, environmental pollutants, and more.
Wash your hair before you wash your face and body – ingredients in shampoos and conditioners tend to clog pores if left not washed off, which can lead to breakouts and acne.
A simple 3-step morning and evening skincare routine that works best with your skin is all you need! Our skin changes and our routines should change accordingly. Having a basic routine to rely on is especially important when trying out new products to figure out what is causing an issue or bringing a benefit not seen before.
Consistency is key. At least do the basics and bare minimum even if your entire routine consists of 6 or more products.
Skincare is a really good anti-stress procedure – take the time to enjoy that face mask after a long day, make it interesting and exciting as a portion of “me time”.
Some of the myths he debunked in his videos:
To gain the benefits of certain products (fruits, ingredients) when using as a face mask – you should apply a mask that has been specifically formulated with a proper concentration of your desired ingredient. Simply placing that ingredient in a DIY mixture of some kind, or directly onto your face, will not give you the desired result.
There really is a difference between SPF 30 and 50. SPF 50 in chemical formulation is closer to SPF 60, therefore, there’s almost two times more protection using SPF 50 than 30.
Retinol does not thin out your skin. Skin cells undergo a natural renewal process, at some points being thinner than usual, however, it does become healthy again. Retinol sticks to proteins in the skin to deliver its many great qualities.
Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is not bad for you. It comes from crude oil (algae) and is only problematic without proper refinery, like in the 80s and 90s. Now, however, these mineral molecules are highly refined and stripped of carcinogenic particles.
On the daily basis we’re bombarded with skincare products to purchase to reduce pores, have a healthy glow, eliminate acne, etc. But some of these products have quite a hefty price tag, and they operate on the same principle many technology companies do, which is to keep you buying more of the same as you get addicted to seeing the results.
However, and this is a BIG one – we have to eliminate or fix the root cause of whatever it is we’re trying so much to cover with makeup or get rid of with skincare. By understanding the underlying cause we’re far more likely to see good results in the long run and save a lot of money!
Now, I’m not saying that people with hereditary or permanent acne scarring can do these same things and magically cure it, because that’s not the case. But understanding how these other contributors might make it worse could really help.
I was inspired to write about this after watching Whitney’s video below, and she brought up some great points:
Less is more! Cleansing, a special occasional treatment, and a moisturizer – are all we need. Sometimes overloading our skin with layers of products that we hope are right for our skin, can actually clog pores and cause faster aging;
Stay out of the sun! Sun causes the aging process to happen a lot faster and sometimes the results are really painful almost immediately after long exposure. This is why SPF in our skincare and makeup products is so important. If looking tan is important to you then consider alternatives that aren’t as harmful as the Sun and tanning salons (there is a muriad of tanning lotions that aren’t going to damage your skin);
Smoking and alcohol not only kill us on the inside, but are also some of the worst things we can do for our outside appearance and therefore – skin;
Reduce your stress levels as much as possible – it triggers a hormonal response in the body that is pretty much poison! Make sure your surroundings and your mental health are in good condition. Don’t try to overload yourself with work just to focus on something besides your problems – actually take steps to fix them!;
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a burden! The sooner we develop healthy eating habits the better off we’ll be – no skincare or makeup product can cover the consequences of bad eating, but a balanced diet without much sugar and processed foods will. Eat a lot of greens and drink a lot of water;
Get enough exercise, in any way possible. Whether it’s getting fresh air and going on daily walks, or working out regularly – getting our blood moving, increasing cell renewal, boosting collagen levels, and feeling better about ourselves overall, will consequentially help our skin look younger for longer.
We can keep buying all the glowy skin products, false eyelashes, hair extensions, and everything else, but instead, we should cultivate healthy habits to eliminate the need to!