I’ve taken courses on skincare and nutrition and have researched natural medicine and healthy foods. It’s fascinating how our diet affects our body’s health. There are some nutrients you can both ingest and apply topically, some that can only be ingested (or produced by the body) and some that can only be applied topically. Today we’re going to look at how our diet affects our skin, what nutrients the skin needs, what benefits they provide and what foods you can eat.
To maintain healthy skin, you need water, vitamins A, B, C and E, zinc, essential fatty acids and proteins:
Collagen cannot be applied topically as the molecules are too big to absorb through the skin. Collagen doesn’t exist in any food other than homemade bone broth and is instead produced in the body (The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen, Cleveland Clinic). As we get older our body produces less collagen. Here’s what to eat to help boost collagen production:
Zinc can be found in:
These foods contain antioxidants:
Eat many of these different foods and make your skin happy. It will reward you with beautiful, healthy looking skin!
Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids
The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-way-you-can-get-more-collagen/
“There is no single disease which causes more psychic trauma and more maladjustment between parents and children, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority and greater sums of psychic assessment than does acne vulgaris” (Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine 3rd Edition, 2012).
Wow! Even 20 years after my acne it still reminds me of those feelings. My acne was something I never talked about, but I’m ready to share my story with you now.
My acne started in junior high school and my doctor started me with soaps and cleansers (Neutrogena, pHisoderm and Sea Breeze) and then topicals. No improvement, just acne and drier skin. Then I tried courses of antibiotics (tetracycline, minocycline, erythromycin, etc.). Nada. Finally I tried Accutane in high school. If you’re not familiar with it, it has a long rap sheet of side effects and can cause severe birth defects and liver damage. I was required to be on birth control pills and have my blood and urine tested every month. But it was a miracle, it worked! And back then I didn’t care about the side effects, I just wanted to look normal. I experienced night blindness (which meant I couldn’t drive at night) and dry cracked, bleeding lips. I was on it for a few months and my clear skin lasted for about a year. But it came back, and I was back on it for another round.
Worse than the side effects was the embarrassment, low self-esteem and social stigma. I remember working my cashier job and having customers giving me unsolicited advice. I was told to try sugar paste, baking soda paste and toothpaste. I know they all meant well but it embarrassed me further and each comment was a constant reminder of my acne.
I was told not to eat sweets. I cut sugar out of my diet but it seemed to make no difference.
In a teen magazine, I read an interview with Catherine Bach (who played Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard - loved that show!) and she talked about how she was an ugly kid. She advised readers that ‘every ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan’. I held onto that hope for years. I’m certainly no swan but my looks definitely improved.
The school photographers were able to touch up my photos, which made me look better but they felt fake. I threw away any photo of me with acne except a single untouched high school graduation photo, pictured here (complete with bushy eyebrows and permed and back-combed hair!).
My acne problems weren’t over however. Well into my late-twenties I used ProActiv and stayed on the birth control pill which helped keep things in check. These days I still get whiteheads if I’ve had too much sugar or have lost weight (the toxins stored in your fat are released into your bloodstream). As a matter of fact, as I write this I’m experiencing two cysts which I rarely get unless I’ve been eating poorly (I’ve been eating fast food for a couple of days!).
I guess you can say I was left feeling scarred for life. All this time I’ve been covering my face with foundation or a tan, looking but not seeing the marks on my skin. I’m finally ready to face it, to look in the mirror and see my scars and my broken capillaries for what they are.
But enough about me, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned so far, from experience, research and by reading Clear Skin by Nicholas Perricone, MD.
Let’s start with how acne forms as its important in understanding how to prevent or reduce acne. When there’s an increase in inflammatory chemicals in the cell, proinflammatory cytokines (proteins) are produced by your immune system. Cytokines make the skin cells sticky and trap dead skin cells, clogging the pore (Perricone, N., MD, The Clear Skin Prescription, 2004). This causes sebum and bacteria to build up resulting in a comedo (whitehead or blackhead). A comedo can develop into a papule or pustule, better known as a pimple. These can develop into nodules or cysts.
When we’re stressed, lacking sleep or eating inflammatory foods (not just sugar but high glycemic foods such as juices, white bread, potatoes, white rice, etc.), the hormone cortisol is released, increasing our blood sugar and leading to inflammation (Perricone, N., MD, The Clear Skin Prescription, 2004). Additionally, the hormone androgen exacerbates the condition by increasing sebum production.
In order to reduce inflammation, we need to drink plenty of water, sleep well, reduce stress and consume an anti-inflammatory diet. This diet means low glycemic index foods, moderate amounts of lean protein and unsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados, salmon, nuts and seeds) and plenty of vegetables. Here are some resources to check the glycemic index of foods:
Topical anti-inflammatories can also be used in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory diet. Look for products with alpha lipoic acid, dimethylaminoethanol and glutathione (Perricone, N., MD, The Clear Skin Prescription, 2004).
Another alternative is to look at a face map, especially if your acne occurs in one spot. This is based on Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Think of it like reflexology, where problems with a specific part of your body are a window to an internal problem. This helped me clear up the acne on the tip of my nose. The face map says it may be related to circulation, heart issues or gastrointestinal problems; and as soon as I resumed regular exercise, it cleared up. Here’s a comprehensive face map for you to explore: https://www.muktiorganics.com/blog/face-mapping-how-to-read-your-skin-from-within.
Hopefully one of these more natural ways to deal with your acne works for you. And there’s a bonus. The side effects of eating an anti-inflammatory diet are disease prevention and looking younger!
Last weekend I tried a lotion bar, a face scrub and two face masks from Pinterest recipes. Based on how other recipes turned out, I was a little afraid! Here's what happened:
It was a rainy and snowy weekend so I decided to try out some body care recipes I had pinned on Pinterest. I wasn't very optimistic based on my previous experience but I thought I'd try out products I've never made before. I chose hairspray, a face mask and his and hers shaving creams. Here's what happened:
Come back next week when I try lotion bars, a face scrub and two more face masks!
Have you tried making something from Pinterest? Was it a tragic fail or super success?
You know the feeling. That tingly, prickly sensation you get after applying a skincare product. Reminds me of the days of Sea Breeze! Many people assume that this reaction means that the product is working but that's not necessarily the case.
Products such as chemical exfoliators can tingle for a good reason. Chemical exfoliators may include Alpha Hydroxy Acids (lactic acid, glycolic acid) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (salicylic acid). These acids will usually cause a reaction when they absorb into your skin. These acids have a pH about 3-4 and your skin has a pH of about 5.5 (1 = very acidic, 7 = neutral, 14 = very alkaline) and this causes the skin to become temporarily unbalanced. Applying a lotion or face oil afterward will help rebalance your skin's pH.
Face masks containing menthol, peppermint or camphor can cause stinging. Avoid these if you have sensitive or dry skin.
Other ingredients that can cause tingling are alcohol, surfactants such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) and some preservatives. As well, your skin's barrier function may be weak which makes it susceptible to irritation and inflammation.
If the tingling is mild and doesn't last long then it's probably fine. If the tingling becomes stinging or burning, lasts a long time or causes redness or peeling, it's doing you more harm than good.
For more information see:
Using natural deodorant is a great way to avoid aluminum, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol and triclosan, etc. However, it's not without its challenges!
First let's talk about body odour. BO is caused by bacteria breaking down our sweat into acids. Sweating is a natural body function that controls body temperature. So no sweat, no BO. But antiperspirants use aluminum which plugs your sweat glands and traps toxins, bacteria and chemicals in your body.
Know those yellow armpit stains? They're not actually from sweat. They are a result of the reaction between sweat and aluminum. No aluminum - no yellow stains. Yes, you can wear white again!!!
Natural deodorant incorporates ingredients that absorb your sweat and are anti-bacterial. You might sweat a little more but toxins are removed in your sweat, bacteria is decreased and you won't stink.
So if you're thinking of switching, here's what you need to know:
The physical size of your pores is determined by genetics. Those with fair skin usually have small pores while those with olive or darker complexions usually have larger pores. If you have dry skin you probably have small pores. If you have oily skin and acne, you probably have larger pores. Some people's pores get larger as they age. However the appearance of your pores can be reduced by:
Ever had a red itchy patch under your wedding ring? It's called Wedding Ring Dermatitis and it's a common skin rash. You are more likely to get it if you have sensitive skin, eczema or allergies. You can wear your ring for several years and suddenly develop it.
It's caused by an allergy to nickel (most gold and platinum rings contain a small amount) or from a buildup of soap, skin cells and/or lotion under the ring (bacteria make their home here and can cause irritation).
How do you get rid of it or prevent it? If it's a nickel allergy, stop wearing it. If its from irritation, clean your ring by boiling it in vinegar and peroxide (safe for diamonds but not recommended for pearls and opal - please check on other gemstones) and wear it on a different finger, remove the ring for washing your hands, use a mild soap and dry your hands thoroughly. To speed healing, use a moisturizing product containing shea butter and tea tree (tea tree is also antibacterial).
There are four main skin types that are generally recognized: normal, oily, dry and sensitive. Of course you may have more than one skin type which is then classified as combination skin. There are a number of factors that influence your skin type including genetics, hormones, free radicals, diet, medicine, stress and smoking.
Normal skin is smooth with fine pores, no visible blemishes, dry or oily spots and is more common in younger people. Wash face twice a day and cleanse, tone and moisturize regularly. Exfoliate 2-3 times per week and wear sunscreen.
Dry skin is characterized by dull, flaky skin that may itch or burn, invisible pores, more visible lines and is commonly found in mature skin. To take care of this skin type, avoid ingredients that are drying, use a humidifier and exfoliate 2-3 times per week with a physical exfoliator such as sugar or seeds (avoid chemical exfoliants such as retinol and glycolic acid). Avoid long hot showers, use gentle products and moisturize while skin is still damp. Look for products that contain baobab, jojoba, rice bran, borage, argan, hempseed or evening primrose oils as well as ceramides, gylcerin, aloe, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, hydrolyzed proteins and dimethicone. Use a facial oil 1-2 times per week. Avoid matte foundation and eye shadow and go with creamy products rich in oils.
Oily skin is usually shiny with enlarged pores and prone to blemishes. Drink lots of water to flush out the skin and use a light cleanser. Use toner sparingly and choose a water based moisturizer or one that contains oils that are light and won't clog your pores (baobab, grapeseed, jojoba, sea buckthorn or hazelnut). Look for products with salicylic acid, glycolic acid or beta-hydroxy acid or papaya extract (chemical exfoliators) and zinc oxide, as it makes your skin inhospitable to acne bacteria. Then you only need to exfoliate with a gentle physical exfoliator, such as sugar or seeds, once per week. Use a mud or clay based face mask for very oily skin. Use a matte face primer, dust with an oil-control product and use oil free make-up.
Sensitive skin may turn red, dry, itchy or burning when applying products. Look for moisturizing soap, avoid long hot showers, moisturize while skin is damp and avoid all alcohol based products. The fewer products used the better (to avoid chemicals). Avoid colours, formaldehyde and fragrances. Pat face dry and moisturize twice a day with a product containing natural ingredients such as jojoba oil, baobab oil, raspberry seed oil, sunflower oil, panthenol, allantoin and sodium lactate. Avoid all liquid cosmetics and choose powder-based instead. Pay attention to expiry dates. Use earth tones for eye shadow as they contain a lower colour concentration. If you need anti-aging ingredients, look for green tea, aloe vera, rose or lavender.
Ever wonder what the difference is between face lotion, hand lotion, body lotion and foot lotion?
Basically what it comes down to is your skin's needs, and those needs differ from one part of your body to the next. The skin on your hands is thinner and requires extra hydration whereas the skin on your feet is much thicker. Face skin is thin and sensitive and the pores are prone to clogging.
So how is this reflected in the different types of lotion?
The type of ingredients are also specific to where it's meant to be applied. Face lotion requires oils that are light and noncomedogenic (don't clog pores). They may also contain ingredients to combat acne, wrinkles, oily skin, UV rays, etc. These ingredients are typically expensive so you wouldn't want to use face lotion all over your body. On the other hand (or foot!), foot lotion requires greasy and heavy oils and may contain ingredients for natural exfoliation.
So, do you need them all? Well that depends on your skin's needs. At the very least you should have a face lotion and a body lotion. You may find you need to use heavier creams during our dry winter season or if your skin is drier than normal.
Loves living a healthy lifestyle and sharing what she learns along the way.