Radiant, glowing and beautifully healthy skin is something most women covet – but often it can feel out of reach. If you struggle with adult acne, dullness or temperamental and sensitive skin, you understand just how frustrating and demoralising it can be when you look in the mirror and aren’t happy with what’s reflected back at you.
And while genetics, hormones and environmental factors play a big role in how our skin behaves and looks, there are some simple lifestyle and dietary changes you can make – along with a selection of nourishing skincare products you can use – to help boost your skin’s health and create a complexion you’d be proud to show off to the world.
Healthy Skin Starts From Within
Just like your eyes are windows to your soul, your skin can be a proverbial mirror that reflects your internal health. “Your skin is most closely linked to your digestive, immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems,” explains naturopath, nutritionist and BioCeuticals Practitioner Educator Emily Seddon. “If your gut is not absorbing nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins and antioxidants, or if it’s being irritated by problematic foods, this can be reflected in the appearance and quality of your skin cells.”
The gut and skin are also similar in that they are both eliminatory systems. If you body isn’t eliminating toxins properly, it’s pretty near impossible to have to have healthy skin. “Issues with elimination organs like the liver can set off a chain of events that may cause the skin to become itchy and inflamed,” says Emily. Your hormone levels can also have a huge impact on the appearance of your skin. Ever noticed an extra pimple or two on your chin that pops up to say hi right before your period’s due? Fluctuating hormones are the likely culprit.
Ready to start balancing your internal health so you can begin healing and nourishing your skin from within? Here’s how:
- Avoid highly processed foods. “Start by cutting out processed foods and avoid anything that is packaged,” advises nutritionist and wellness coach Jessica Sepel. “If you don’t understand the label, don’t eat it.” Jessica also advises giving up soda, cutting out artificial sweeteners, and avoiding foods labelled ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ – these are often loaded with sugar or are highly processed. Instead, opt for a variety of healthy wholefoods with a focus on fresh organic veggies and lean protein.
- Reduce your consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol can be quite dehydrating and irritating to your internal systems, with alcohol in particular affecting the appearance of your skin. “Excessive alcohol intake can cause trouble by dehydrating the body and skin and increasing inflammatory markers in the body,” says Emily Seddon. “This can result in irritating dermatitis, and an overall red appearance of the skin.” This doesn’t mean you have to cut out alcohol and caffeine altogether – just keep your consumption sensible; one coffee or tea a day, and a glass or two of wine on a Friday or Saturday night is completely fine.
- Up your intake of antioxidant-rich foods. Foods that are high in antioxidants – such as brightly coloured fruits and vegetables – help to combat oxidative stress and cell damage, which are linked to premature skin ageing. “Some antioxidants, like zinc and Vitamin C also play a large role in wound healing,” explains accredited practicing dietician, nutritionist and BioCeuticals Practitioner Educator Natalie Bourke. Up your intake of antioxidant-rich foods like green tea, blueberries, green leafy veggies, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, carrots and sweet potato. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough antioxidants in your diet, Natalie suggests you talk to your healthcare practitioner for a recommendation of a high quality supplement.
- Eat more essential fatty acids. While we’ve often been taught to avoid fatty foods, our bodies actually need certain types of healthy fats in order to function properly – our skin in particular craves these healthy fats. “Fat is found in our subcutaneous tissue, which helps to provide the plump and smooth appearance of our skin,” says Natalie. “Beneficial fatty acids, like omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and chia seeds, have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body as well. Taken internally, they may help to reduce inflammation, redness and itching of the skin.” In addition to salmon and chia seeds, walnuts, mackerel, tuna, eggs (the yolk in particular) and flaxseeds are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. A supplement like fish oil liquid is also a great way to up you intake of omega-3.
- Add probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are very important to your overall health and the appearance of your skin because they curb inflammatory processes that would otherwise go unchecked in your gut, which has a flow-on effect throughout the body. “Probiotics attune the release of ‘substance P’, which plays a huge role in several skin conditions,” says Natalie. “In fact there is research to suggest that probiotics can affect sebum production…one trial showed that 54% of acne sufferers had significant changes in their gut micro-biome.” Here at THE ECO EDIT, we love The Beauty Chef’s probiotic-enriched supplements, along with natural kombucha fermented tea.
- Drink more water. This one’s pretty obvious, but adequate water intake is something that’s very easy to overlook on a day-to-day basis – and it plays a huge role in having healthy skin. Our skin is over 60% water, and it loses liquid very easily when the weather is dry or hot, or when we sweat. Drinking between 1.5 – 2L of water a day is ideal, as it will help to keep your body and your skin properly hydrated. If you struggle to drink that much water, you can also count healthy non-caffeinated beverages like coconut water and herbal tea towards your daily quota.
The best part of a healthy diet is that your skin won’t be the only thing that benefits. In addition to improving your overall health, you’ll feel more energised too. “When I feel healthy I feel like I can do anything,” says nutritionist and wellness coach Jessica Sepel. “When you embrace a healthy lifestyle, you realise that nothing feels as good as being healthy. I have more sustained energy, better quality sleep, my sugar cravings subside, I maintain a healthy weight, and my hormones stay balanced.”
Nourish Your Skin From The Outside
While your diet, overall health and genetics will play a critical role in the health and appearance of your skin, topical skincare also plays it part. Cleansing twice daily and replenishing your skin with nourishing, hydrating natural moisturiser is one of the best ways to ensure your complexion looks it best. This entire site is filled with information and recommendations for fantastic natural skincare products, but if you’re after some quick, fuss-free advice, we’ve included some of our favourite product picks below:
- If you’re in need of a new cleanser, we recommend Mukti Hydrating Cleansing Lotion, which is ideal for all skin types and extremely gentle and nourishing. Generally speaking, we advise using cream cleansers rather than foaming cleansers or gels, as they tend to be gentler on your skin and are less likely to impair your skin’s natural barrier layer.
- Exfoliating is also important as it removes dead skin cells, reduces congestion, and helps promote a healthy glow. The trick is to not overdo it – twice a week is plenty, and don’t apply too much pressure to your face when using an exfoliant. Try Madara Oil-To-Milk Exfoliating Scrub, which is gentle yet effective.
- When it comes to picking a great moisturiser, we recommend looking for one that contains nourishing natural oils and botanical extracts to replenish your skin and promote optimal skin function. We recommend Weleda Skin Food for normal and dry skin types, Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream for sensitive skin, and Acure Oil Control Facial Moisturiser for oily and acne-prone skin.
- Just like health supplements give your diet a turbo-boost, a skin serum is a potent addition to your skincare regime. There are a huge array of natural and organic serums on the market – at the moment we’re loving Madara Time Miracle Cellular Repair Serum and Mukti Age Defiance Night Serum.