Think upping your skincare game is a little, well, superficial? We hear you … and we’re here to tell you it’s not. Caring for your skin isn’t just about snapping a flawless selfie with no filter. It’s also about your health.
Think about it: No natural skincare regimen is complete without a high-SPF mineral sunscreen, which not only prevents photoaging, but also helps prevent skin cancer. And yes, eating walnuts, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, helps skin stay moisturized (read: beautiful). But walnuts also contain zinc—important in skin’s role as a barrier and for wound healing and combating bacteria.
Summer brings plenty of challenges for skin (hi, blazing sunshine and strong sea breezes). Thankfully, fresh, organic produce also ripens over the summer, and certain fruits and veggies can work some surprising wonders for your largest organ. Combine these foods with supplements that love your skin year-round, and you’ll have a solid skin health strategy.
Tomatoes pack lots of vitamin C, which is essential for creating collagen—the main structural protein for strong, healthy skin. The ruby beauties also boast all the major carotenoids, including lycopene, which helps protect skin against sun damage and may prevent wrinkling.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which may protect skin from sun damage. Fill your plate with other beta-carotene stars, such as carrots, spinach, and apricots.
Red or yellow peppers
More beta-carotene stars, red or yellow peppers are also full to the brim with vitamin C—there’s an amazing 317 percent of your recommended dietary allowance in one cup of peppers.
Eat your broccoli! It’s a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids that are important for skin health, but sulforaphane, which may help prevent skin cancer and protect your skin from sunburn, is its secret skin-loving ingredient.
Supplement with these
Sea buckthorn oil
Sea buckthorn oil—which is high in omega-7 fatty acids—can be taken orally or used topically. Sea buckthorn is also rich in vitamin E, lycopene, and beta-carotene, so it helps with skin hydration, elasticity, and regeneration. It may also help protect skin from UV rays.
A big-time antioxidant, astaxanthin may help improve wrinkles, age spots, skin moisture, and skin texture. A recent study of 35- to 60-year-old women showed suppression of wrinkles and less skin moisture deterioration along with improvement in skin elasticity after 16 weeks of astaxanthin supplementation.
Vitamins C and D
Research suggests adequate levels of vitamin D may play an important role in protecting us from many skin conditions, such as psoriasis, acne, and rosacea. Vitamin C supplements can help with collagen formation and keep skin bright and vibrant.
Collagen and collagen builders
Collagen is loved for its ability to improve skin elasticity and smooth away wrinkles (see p. 35 for the full low-down), but if you don’t eat animal products, it’s not an option. What to do? Plant-based collagen builders have you covered. They contain ingredients such as amino acids, silica, biotin, and vitamin C, which all help keep your skin healthy.
What about what we put on our skin?
Eating and supplementing for skin health is a great start, but to make your skin sublimely happy throughout the summer, look for natural ingredients such as these in your skincare products.
Allantoin and comfrey
Allantoin is a skin-conditioning agent that can be derived from several sources, including the comfrey plant. Both allantoin and comfrey extract are shown to soothe skin irritation.
Honey and beeswax
Honey has some sweet skin benefits (see p. 23), and beeswax can be a dream for dry, itchy skin. One study found a mixture of beeswax, honey, and olive oil soothed dermatitis and psoriasis.
Squalane is a natural part of your skin’s sebum (oils) and helps prevent moisture loss, so it’s the ultimate natural way to maximize skin softness. Look for squalane in eye creams, body washes, and lotions