Yes, you can eat your way to beautiful skin. Here’s how
Stress, dehydration and a poor diet can wreak the sort of havoc on your skin that no $150 crème or serum is going to fix.
However, you can help boost the clarity and radiance of your skin by making a few small shifts in your daily routine and eating habits, says celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, co-author with Deepak Chopra of “Radical Beauty: How to Transform Yourself From the Inside Out” and owner of the Glow Bio juice bar on Melrose Avenue.
“Start incorporating small [healthful] habits that you’ll do regularly for the long term,” Snyder says, “and that’s where you’ll really start to see a difference.”
Here are six of her favorite ways on the path to clearer, softer skin:
1. Lemon and water
Snyder suggests heating up a cup of water and squeezing in half a lemon first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to rehydrate and get your vitamin C, she says, and the enzymes in the lemons help support healthier liver function, which in turn means less acne and patchy skin.
“It’s an amazing thing to do for your skin every day,” she says. “It keeps your skin nice and clear.”
2. Hemp and chia seeds
Add these to your diet and you'll notice brighter skin, Snyder says. Both ingredients are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which experts say contribute to healthy circulation. That in turn delivers more oxygen and nutrients to your skin, and both are a good source of tryptophan, which advocates say can help you get your beauty sleep. Chia seeds, also high in fiber, should be soaked for at least half an hour in a 1-9 ratio of seeds to liquid until they achieve a gel-like consistency, which works well in smoothies and dessert-like puddings. (One to try: Snyder’s chia seed delight, combining chia seeds with coconut nectar, cacao and hazelnut milk.) Snyder also recommends ditching dairy and relaxing in the evenings with a glass of warm hemp milk infused with spices such as cardamom, turmeric, cloves or cinnamon and raw honey, or simply sprinkling hemp seeds on a salad.
3. Add more color to your salads
Try putting thinly sliced red cabbage in whatever you’re eating, from salads to entrees. It has more vitamin C by weight than oranges, it’s mineral-dense and high in fiber. And bonus? “It makes your skin look brighter and more youthful,” Snyder says. Also part of her skin-care arsenal is the beta carotene-rich sweet potato. Proponents say it provides antioxidants, cancer-protective effects and has been shown in some studies to boost the effects of sunscreen. And for a dose of beauty detox, try adding colorful astringent vegetables such as radishes into your diet, along with healthful fats such as avocado to ease dry skin. To make sure you’re getting enough skin-clearing greens in your diet, she recommends a daily green smoothie. Her version is called the glowing green smoothie and includes spinach, banana and pear.
4. Learn to love pineapple
This tropical fruit delivers the healthful enzyme bromelain. Long used in certain bandaging for wound-healing, it is said to help fight inflammation and can help reduce those bags under your eyes, as well as aid digestion. Puréed, it also makes a wonderful exfoliating facial mask, Snyder says.
5. Rose water skin toner
In L.A.’s warm, dry climate, rose water – made by steaming rose petals and available at your local natural foods store – is a wonderfully fragrant way to hydrate, reduce inflammation and balance the pH of your skin, Snyder says. Just dab some on a cotton ball and sweep across your face daily.
6. Massage your body and scalp with oil before showering
This is a chief anti-aging practice recommended by Ayurveda medicine proponents, Snyder says, because it is a potent stress reliever. And stress is a prime culprit in skin problems. The process moisturizes as it detoxifies, improving lymphatic drainage and your skin’s protective barrier.
“Stress has really aging effects,” particularly on hormones, she says. With self-oil massage, also known as abhyanga, “the touch is soothing to your nervous system,” which pays long-term dividends to mind and body.
How to do it: It starts with sesame oil. (Not the kind you find in the baking aisle but the cold-pressed version you find at the health food store, which must be refrigerated.) You can heat some up in a smaller container by dunking it in a bowl of warm water before you start your bath or shower. Rub the oil up your body in long strokes from the soles of your feet toward your heart. Also rub it into your arms and massage into your scalp. Leave on for five minutes before shampooing and rinsing, using soap only where you really need it.