We all want smooth, glowing skin and the beauty industry knows it. Whether it's acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation or wrinkles, the market is riddled with thousands of products for every “skin issue”. But while the quality and frequency of the products you use do make a difference, healthy skin is largely an inside job.
It’s what’s inside that counts
Pimples, discoloration, the overall look and feel of skin… all of these external signs are the body’s way of telling us what’s happening on the inside. That there’s an imbalance in the body’s internal terrain, which could be tied to various factors such as inflammation, cell damage, gut bacteria imbalance or dehydration. So while we’d all love a magic cream or serum to end all skin woes, healthy skin is all about daily, holistic care.
Here are 4 key practices you’ll want to incorporate into your daily routine to support that inside-out glow:
Lack of hydration or dehydration is the result of inadequate water retention in the skin, which can be caused by both external and internal factors. Anything from hot, dry weather to indoor heating (or extreme cold) during winter, to increased caffeine and alcohol consumption will impact how our skin looks and feels.
Tips for keeping skin hydrated
- Hydrating foods: Incorporating hydrating foods allows you to replenish fluids at every sip and/or bite. Some of our favorites include cucumbers, leafy greens, watermelon, strawberries or coconut.
- Water: Spruce up water by adding a few slices of citrus and a pinch of salt (for extra minerals), or swap water for herbal teas.
- The culprits: Reduce or limit dehydrating food and drinks, as these can have a long term effect on skin health: alcohol, sugar and coffee.
Pro Tip: Chia seeds for Hydration
Because chia seeds absorb 10+ times their weight in water, incorporating foods like chia pudding is a great (and delicious!) way to support hydration. This water-retaining superpower also means that consuming chia seeds can help the body stay hydrated longer during workouts in high heat or humidity.
Sweating is not just a mechanism for keeping the body cool – it’s also one of the many ways the body detoxes on a daily basis. When we sweat, our circulation increases to deliver oxygen to muscles and organs, while also getting rid of toxins that accumulate naturally in the body. And when it comes to our skin, that flushed feeling and rosy complexion is a sign of our pores dilating, releasing those toxins along with moisture and sweat from the body. The more often we allow ourselves to sweat, the more we move toxins out.
Our favorite ways to sweat on a daily basis
- Exercise: Whatever it is you enjoy, do it often. From fast paced walking or HIIT workouts to hot yoga or any other sport, if it causes you to break a sweat, do it regularly.
- Sauna: this may be less accessible to most, but spending a few minutes in a sauna on a regular basis will help increase circulation through your body, releasing toxins as you perspire.
The state of our digestion is a direct reflection of what’s happening inside our body. And digestion isn’t just about eating food. It’s about how our body breaks down that food and absorbs the nutrients that we consume. If we don’t feed our bodies what they need, or if our digestion is compromised and isn’t taking in those nutrients, our body will feel it and show it, starting with our skin.
- a diet rich in processed, high sugar and nutrient-deficient foods will severely lack the nutrients we need to thrive, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. In fact, these foods have been shown to lead to inflammation and in turn to the production of reactive molecules in our body, called “free radicals”, which have been shown to damage cells, contributing to premature aging.
- continuously eating foods that we are sensitive to puts our body in a state of aggravation and inflammation. Some foods that are commonly culprits for many people include dairy, gluten, soy, corn, shellfish and tree nuts. Acne, rosacea, dry skin and autoimmune conditions like psoriasis and eczema can very often be made worse with diet over time.
Ways to improve skin health with diet
- Remove the culprits: Identify foods that are not agreeing with your body and remove them. Working through an elimination diet with a healthcare practitioner is one of the most determinative approaches. But some telltale signs could be experiencing diarrhea, constipation, brain fog, bloating, hives and even anxiety after consumption.
- Bowel movements: Make sure you have a minimum of one, daily. One of the most important ways the body detoxifies is through bowel movements: if it doesn’t come out, it stays in.
- Nutrients: Eat nutrient dense foods that contain high levels of antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Superfoods are a great way to pack every bite with nutrient goodness. Some of our favorites include Moringa, Bee Pollen, Cacao and more.
- Gut health: Nourish and balance your gut bacteria. Incorporating prebiotic foods (some of our favorites include onions, asparagus and bananas) helps feed the good bacteria, and adding probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi helps keep bad bacteria levels in check, infections at bay and digestion in prime condition.
4. Skin Care
Like the old adage goes, “what you put in your body, goes in your body.” Our skin is porous, and while it does a great job of keeping our insides inside, it’s not impenetrable. The products you use on a daily basis – cleansers, creams, serums, balms, peels, shampoos, conditioners, makeup and deodorant – all find their way into the body. And the body, particularly the liver, has to detoxify toxic ingredients, a crucial role that can be a major burden on our already busy liver (which performs over 500 processes!) with daily use of conventional skincare.
Some products can also be extremely harsh to the skin, causing more damage than good. Congested skin, pimples, rashes or hives can all be an indication that what you’re using isn’t working.
Tips on choosing clean skincare that works
- Choose cleaner alternatives: Not all ingredients are created equal. Opt for products without artificial scents/fragrances, colors or flavors. They are often unnecessary and can be irritating.
- Clean skincare database: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database does a great job of identifying what those toxic, irritating and less desirable ingredients may be. This database covers everything from skincare to laundry detergent to cleaning products and more.
- Alpyn Beauty: Skincare make of wild harvested ingredients
- Bloem Botanicals: Small batch, handcrafted botanical skin and body care
- Cocokind: Cost effective, botanical-forward skincare and super transparent about each product’s carbon footprint
- Sahajan: High performance skincare based on the Ancient Science of Ayurveda
- Cheekbone Beauty: Clean, sustainability centered and Indigenous founded cosmetic line
- Ilia Beauty: Beautiful, clean and vibrant makeup with nourishing skincare level ingredients
- Innersense Beauty: Salon grade hair products with clean chemistry, radical transparency and a commitment to the environment
Zuza is currently studying Holistic Nutrition at IHN in Toronto, Canada. She's a balcony garden enthusiast and rescue dog mama.