When it comes to your face, you really are what you eat. You can trowel on endless miracle creams, but the appearance of your skin – the body’s largest organ – is often a reflection of what’s going on internally. Nothing beats that natural glow that radiates from deep within, so start loading up on nutritious foods that help promote cell regeneration, reduce free radical damage and keep skin clear and beautiful. Here are your secret weapons:
Your kitchen cupboards should contain all the nutritional arsenal you need to keep you looking radiant. Now’s the time to detox your shelves of anything processed, sugary or overly refined and replace it with whole foods that are colourful, seasonal and, ideally, organic. As skin replaces itself every six weeks, it shouldn’t be too long until you start seeing the benefits of your new regime.
Try: Equi London’s Beautiful if you need an extra boost while making the transition to eating well. This next generation nutritional powder boasts the equivalent of 20 supplements, including marine collagen, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and silica – all chosen for their skin-loving properties. Simply mix a teaspoon with water or stir into a smoothie or juice once a day.
Eat the rainbow
Antioxidants counteract skin damage at cellular level by mopping up free radicals. To give your skin a fighting chance, make sure you’re eating an array of green, red, orange, yellow and purple fruits and vegetables – the vibrant colours are what gives them them their beta-carotene, vitamins A, E and C, selenium and zinc properties.
Try: upping your intake of berries, which contain anthocyanin, a potent warrior against oxidative stress, one of the main causes of aging.
Nuts and seeds
Vitamin E is a skin superhero; it protects skin from free radical damage and promotes regeneration. Nuts and seeds are extremely good sources. Try a handful of almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds as a snack (carry them with you), add them to smoothies and sprinkle over salads. Brazil nuts contain selenium, a trace mineral which can help reduce acne and pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, again essential for skin healing.
Also try: flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are an elixir for your skin. They make up the building blocks of healthy cell membranes and help maintain the skin’s natural oil barrier, which is vital to a hydrated, plump, youthful looking complexion. Unfortunately our bodies can’t synthesize them, so they have to be got from food sources. The omega 3s in oily fish can help fight inflammation, aid dry skin conditions like eczema* and bolster skin’s moisture levels.
Try: wild salmon, mackerel, sardines and pilchards.
The glut of #avotoast posts on Instagram may induce a few eye rolls but their new found popularity is for good reason. Once vilified for their fat content, avocados now reign supreme when it comes to health and beauty. Not only are they a great source of carotenoids, potassium and vitamins B, C and E, they also boast oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that locks moisture in the epidermis, helping to keep it looking firm, hydrated and nourished.
Try: spreading in place of butter or adding to smoothies to make them extra rich and creamy.
Dark, leafy greens pack a pretty powerful punch when it comes to nutrients. Think of them as a multi-vitamin for your skin. They get their colour from chlorophyll, a disease fighting phytochemical, and also contain vitamin A (otherwise known as retinol, a key ingredient in anti-aging creams), which helps promote skin cell growth and turnover. Then there’s vitamin C, beta-carotene and copper, which unite to promote collagen production and give skin a healthy bloom. Vitamin K helps strengthen blood vessel walls, while folate is a vital nutrient for cell repair.
Try: freezing fresh kale, collards, spinach, beetroot tops or cavolo nero – whatever is in season – to use in smoothies and juices throughout the year.
You’ve been told this countless times but it’s worth reminding you that skin cell membranes need to be well hydrated to keep them plump and firm. We’re made up of 80% water so it stands to reason that you need to keep sipping throughout the day to maintain levels. Aim for two litres, or three if you’re exercising. Believe the hype. Depending on how thirsty your skin is, you should notice a difference after just a few days.
Try: infusing mint and cucumber; basil and lime, or lemon and ginger into a water bottle to make it less of a chore.
Get your blood pumping
Body brushing works by increasing vascular circulation, shedding dry skin cells, encouraging cell renewal and draining your lymphatic system. The upshot? Luminous skin, improved muscle tone and the breakdown of unwanted toxins. Do it for two minutes every morning on dry skin – starting at the soles of your feet and working in long, sweeping movements up your body towards your heart – for a great start to the day.
For your face, a firm massage will increase circulation, reduce puffiness and help lift and firm the skin. After cleansing – and using a facial oil to avoid dragging – start by massaging the lymph nodes under your ears, then sweep down your neck and up along your jaw line. Using circular strokes, massage either side of your mouth, moving slowly up along your cheekbones towards your ears and then to your temples. Finish by sweeping your fingertips from the middle of your forehead, outwards and across your eyebrows to your temples.
Try: Di Blasi’s Multitasking Butter, an all-natural, paraben free balm with lemon essential oil that’s the perfect consistency for massage and can also be used as a deep cleanse.
You can have the healthiest, most varied whole food diet in the world but if you’re not digesting it properly, you won’t be getting the most from the nutrients. Probiotics are live microorganisms which can help to redress the balance of good gut bacteria. They’re largely found in fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi.
Try: a supplement form if you suspect your internal ecosystem needs a helping hand. Optibac are based in the UK and put their products through rigorous clinical trials. Their Probiotics For Everyday will provide your daily needs in a single capsule.
* Boelsma et al, Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids, American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 2001