Continuing with our top tips for spring-cleaning your skin, we take a look at the inner and outer workings of the skin and how best to optimise skin health, naturally.
Don’t Quit Quitting!
You’ve managed a month since that new year resolution to give up the cigarettes but the stress of work and the diminishing glow of that forthright decision are causing you to wobble. Persevere. Not only does smoking cause free radical damage that prematurely ages your skin, the physical act of pulling on a cigarette leads to pouty wrinkles between the upper lip and nose. Smoking works against your skin in numerous ways:
- it adversely affecting circulation, thus reducing tissue oxygenation and ‘greying’ the skin
- it adds to the toxic burden your body must deal with to keep cells healthy
- it impairs healing and increases scarring
- it reduces the vitamin C available for collagen synthesis and thus leads to sagging skin incapable of holding moisture properly (as well as worsening joint health)
- it means standing outside in the cold winter air and drying out the skin even further
Coffee and cigarettes are a dangerous combination for skin health but the winter can easily see you drinking endless cups of coffee to stay warm and add an energy boost to your sun-deprived days. Unfortunately, this means that your body is in a perpetual state of dehydration over winter and is often depleted of B vitamins that help nourish the skin and help balance hormones that also influence skin health. By pretty much only drinking coffee during your day, and then a glass of wine or two in the evening, it won’t be long before the plumpness and health of your skin will start to suffer and you may notice wrinkles you never saw before.
Try switching your morning coffee to hot water with fresh lemon and ginger, this will wake-up your digestive system, help your body eliminate toxins and rehydrate. Other excellent drinks to manage hydration include coconut water which is full of electrolytes like potassium. Simply drinking hot water throughout the day is a great option, and saves you money on all those elaborate calorie-packed coffees.
Eat Your Way to Good Skin Health
If you find yourself eating stodgy, fatty and salt-heavy lunchtime meals and snacks then consider taking low-sodium soups to work in a thermos, thus providing a warming meal and a midday moisture shot that isn’t caffeinated and is more tempting than that sad-looking cold salad from the deli. Bonus points for having skin healthy soup ingredients such as turmeric (an anti-inflammatory), peppers (for a vitamin C shot to boost collagen production and provide antioxidant protection), and carrots (a great source of beta-carotene that converts to vitamin A – a key skin nutrient that helps with acne and other skin conditions).
Other great ideas to give your skin a natural boost in time for spring include:
- Nuts: Particularly walnuts as these are rich in essential fatty acids to control inflammation, keep the skin (and brain) healthy and aid heart health to boot
- Seeds: Pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, they all have their benefits such as being rich in zinc (great for the skin!), calcium and magnesium, and conjugated linoleic acid.
- Garlic: A great source of natural antihistamines, anti-fungal and antibiotic sulphur compounds to fight off infection that can cause skin breakouts and pimples.
- Wheatgerm: a wonderful source of zinc and vitamin E to help heal skin and repair free-radical damage.
- Kale: No superfood list is complete without kale. Rich in vitamin C, calcium, carotenoids and other nutrients this is a great addition to any skin-healthy diet.
Treat Your Skin
Having cooked a nice dinner for your skin, it’s time to bump up the romance factor by creating a fruity, coconutty, goopy face mask that smells delicious and is good enough to eat for dessert. Mash up a mango, add a little coconut oil and some wheatgerm oil, smooth the gloopy goodness onto your skin and settle in to watch a great show, uninterrupted whilst looking a tad ridiculous. Don’t be tempted to eat the goop afterwards as it will have drawn out various nasties lurking on the uppermost layers of skin. Treat yourself to a mango smoothie instead.
As a quick and cheap alternative, cut open the leftover skins of an avocado after you’ve devoured the insides and lay these over your face, covered by a warm, damp face cloth. After ten minutes or so your skin will feel wonderfully soft, and smell great!
Spring-cleaning your skin needn’t be arduous, it can be a simple, tasty natural endeavour using fresh and nutritious whole foods. Start now and get ready to embrace the coming sun!
Skin conditions like acne often indicate underlying health issues, so if you’re looking for a more significant spring clean, be sure to check out my latest book, Eat to Beat Acne: how a plant-based diet can help heal your skin.