Nutrition Of Skincare: Discover The Foods That Transform Your Skin, According To Derms

April 11, 2022

woman holding papaya filled with fruit

Ever since writing my article on k-beauty, I’ve been on a journey to uncover my own elusive, glowy skin.

Skin, for me, has always been an afterthought—something I try to moisturize occasionally, wrap with band-aids when cut, and attempt not to burn in the sun.

As I’m learning to care for my body, however, I’m starting to see skin in another light—as the divider and connector between my body and the rest of the world. I’m learning to see it as my largest organ, my closest companion, and the one piece of ‘clothing’ I can never quite rid myself of. 

And the more I lean into how to best nurture my skin, the more I realize that I’ve had it all wrong this whole time—that it has less to do with what I put on top of my skin, and way more to do with what I put inside of me first.  

An Inside Out Approach 

I first heard of the concept of ‘eating pretty’ from author Jolene Hart, beauty editor turned health coach, who penned the book Eat Pretty.

The concept of the book, part memoir and part research, focuses on ways in which our diet and food consumption directly impacts the way our skin looks. After years of struggling with topical skincare to solve her own skincare needs, Hart turned to her diet to care for her skin from within.

While this may sound counterintuitive, especially with how much the skincare industry drives topical products as skincare solutions, Hart is one amongst a growing body of researchers who are demonstrating the benefits of diet on skin health. 

Dr. Jessica Wu, dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face, explains the rationale behind food-as-skincare, stating, “Foods get digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals and amino acids that your body can use to build healthy skin. If you crash diet or eat highly processed foods, your skin won’t be as strong and supple as it could be. For example, if you don’t eat enough protein, you are depriving your skin of the amino acids that go into making collagen (which makes your skin strong) and elastic tissue (which makes it supple).”

When considering cosmetic companies, Margreet Vissers, a biochemistry academic at the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, also agrees with Dr. Wu and Hart, claiming, “you’d probably be better off eating your product than rubbing it on.

While that’s not to say that topical solutions never work, these scientists are making the argument that topical cosmetic solutions can only solve so much, with the rest depending on a well-balanced, beauty-boosting diet needed to create healthy skin cells in the first place. 

Fill your diet with the beauty boosters below, while avoiding the skin stressors for healthy, shiny skin.

Meet the Beauty Boosters

Citrus Fruit & Vitamin C

Vitamin C is necessary to produce and maintain collagen, a key protein that gives skin its plump and supple appearance. As humans age, collagen levels diminish, leading to a need for a healthy diet filled with citrus fruits and other fruits and veggies that contain high levels of vitamin C, such as apples, strawberries, spinach, blueberries, and broccoli. Other benefits of vitamin C on skin include accelerated wound healing, prevention of radiation damage, and decrease in skin pigmentation.

Red Veggies & Fruits 

Lycopene is a nutrient found in red fruits and veggies—tomatoes, watermelons, guavas, etc—that helps the skin by fighting aging and keeping skin young and wrinkle-free. The riper and redder the veggie or fruit, the higher the lycopene content. 

Lycopene represses free radicals and boosts the health of the collagen in the skin. What that means for your skin is that lycopene can help prevent skin discoloration, fine lines, and reduce the size of large pores. In addition to all of that, these lycopene-packed veggies and fruits can also reduce redness and irritation, for supple, glowing skin! 

Leafy Green Veggies 

Through TikTok, ingesting liquid chlorophyll has grown a cult following for its effects on skin, with everyone from Kim K to your nextdoor neighbor drinking this green-colored drink. According to board-certified dermatologist Purvisha Patel, chlorophyll is high in vitamins C, A, E and Ki, which also prevents free radicals and skin damage. 

That said, there is very little actual scientific evidence that chlorophyll has any benefits when ingested in droplet form, according to dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah. Rather than following the chlorophyll trend, Dr. Shah recommends consuming leafy green vegetables, which already contain high levels of chlorophyll in its natural form and vitamins A and K, instead. 

Avoid the Skin Stressors 

For truly healthy skin, it’s not just about incorporating new foods into your diet, but also about cutting certain foods out. The biggest skin stressors include sugar and alcohol, which are linked with the formation of acne, skin irritation, and skin aging, according to board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Donna Hart, MD. Sugar can be found in a number of everyday household items such as soda, white bread, baked goods, and even ketchup, too. 

As the sugar gets processed in your gut, it then enters your bloodstream which leads to inflammation. Consider swapping your refined sugars with natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables instead, and alcohol with probiotics like kombucha or kvass for a good-for-y0ur gut boost.

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While no routine can transform your skin overnight, these micro-adjustments to your overall diet and health can slowly shift your skin into the glowing look you’ve always craved. Swap that seventeenth moisturizer for a smoothie instead, and watch your skin start to create its natural glow.

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Photo: Daria Shetsova via Pexels

Dana Drosdick
Dana is a marketer living in Saratoga Springs, NY with a passion for all things related to stewardship, faith, wellness, and personal enrichment. Her work has been featured in various Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, The Odyssey Online, and The Banner Magazine. Follow her at @danadrosdick on Instagram for foodie trends, her latest book recommendations, and far too many photos of clementines.

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