Although I’ve never had perfect skin, it is SO much healthier than it was in my teenage and college years. You can read more about that here.
In my quest for clearer skin, I’ve discovered 3 foundational steps that are essential for healthy skin. Whether you suffer from acne, rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, these steps will help to reduce inflammation in the body and soothe irritated, rebellious skin issues.
1. Clean up your diet
What you eat directly impacts the health of your skin. Processed and packaged foods, refined sugars, and hydrogenated oils all contribute to inflammation in the body, which often shows up in our skin. When you switch to a whole foods diet and focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and organic meat and dairy, you are lightening the toxic load that your liver has to process from foods devoid of nutrition. Highly refined and processed foods wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels, causing system wide inflammation. Problematic skin is a sign that our bodies are out of balance. The good news is that when we focus on whole, fresh, organic foods, we give our bodies the nutrition they need on a cellular level and experience many side benefits – one of them being clear, glowing skin!
2. Heal your gut
Over 80% of our immune system is in our guts, so it’s imperative that we make sure our digestive system is working properly. There are a number of foods which can damage the intestinal linings of our guts, the main one being gluten. The more we eat inflammatory foods such as gluten, the more likely we are to develop intestinal permeability or “leaky gut.” This sets the stage for a number of health problems, such as autoimmune disorders. And one of the number one indicators of gut problems is problematic skin. If you want to learn more about how to heal your gut and develop beautiful skin, check out this fantastic book, Eat Dirt.
3. Switch to Non-Toxic skincare products
Studies show that women use an average of 12 personal care products that contain over 165 different ingredients on their skin every day. Our skin is our largest organ, and believe it or not, it is absorbing everything you put on it. While the amounts may be minute, over time, these ingredients can build up in our bodies. And if your skincare products contain toxic chemicals, your body is absorbing them every day. Not only can these toxic ingredients present problems internally, but they also can cause skin reactions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, and acne. To examine the safety of your favorite products, check out the super helpful site Skin Deep, where you can research the safety of over 60,000 products. And check out this article for ingredients to avoid. And for suggestions on my favorite non-toxic products, check out my “Favorite Non-Toxic Skincare Products“ series. Cleaner skincare products equals cleaner skin!
4. Supplement for radiant skin
Supplements are a wonderful addition to the foundational steps above. There are a number of supplements you could take to help heal your skin and create a beautiful glow. Here are some of my favorites:
- Food-Based Multi-Vitamin – A potent multivitamin made from whole foods should be the foundation to any supplement regimen. This helps to fill in any nutritional gaps and ensure you’re getting the most bio-available form of each vitamin and mineral. Here’s my favorite.
- Omega Fatty Acids – Healthy fats are essential for beautiful, glowing skin. It’s important to get the full spectrum of omega fatty acids, which include omega 3, 6, and 9, because they help to quell inflammation in the body. I love this brand from Nordic Naturals.
- Probiotics – As we saw above, a healthy gut is essential to healthy skin. Probiotics help to populate our intestines with healthy bacteria and combat inflammation. Look for probiotics with at least 3 billion live strains (the more the better). Jarrow Formulas offers a great multi-strain probiotic if you’re new to this supplement.
- Collagen – As we age, we lose collagen and elastin in our skin, which are responsible for skin’s elasticity (think of a rubber band stretching and then easily returning to its original shape). One of the best supplements to ensure our skin stays elastic as we age is collagen powder. Of all the supplements for skin I’ve tried, collagen produces the best results. It’s like a mini-facelift in a bottle! The reason? Collagen is an extremely beneficial supplement for healing the gut (there’s that gut-skin connection again!). It’s virtually tasteless, so you can add it to smoothies, soups or juices. This is the brand I’ve had the best results with.
5. Create a Daily Skincare Routine
Once you’ve made the switch to non-toxic skincare products, you want to put them to good use. First, you’ll want to figure out what type of skin you have. There are typically 4 main skin types:
Once you’ve figured out the type of skin you have, you can begin creating a skincare routine that works for you. No matter your skin type, cleansing is a must every single day. I make sure to cleanse my skin every morning before applying my make-up and every evening before going to bed. About a year ago, I started double cleansing before bed – basically I start with a cleansing oil (I love this one) and rub it all over my face to melt off the day’s make-up and skincare products. Then I heat a washcloth and place it over my face for about a minute. I gently wipe off the oil and make-up with it. Second, I use a different, gentle cleanser to wash my face again. Then I pat dry. I have really seen an improvement in my skin since doing the double cleanse method. It just feels like I’m really getting it clean before bed.
Below are some ideas to create your own daily skincare routine depending on your skin type.
- Cleanse – daily for all skin types.
- Exfoliate – at least twice a week (more if your skin is mature). Use a physical exfoliant (washcloth or konjac sponge), granular exfoliant (with non-irritating beads/grains) or an exfoliant with alpha or beta hydroxy acids.
- Tone – daily or every other day if your skin is sensitive. Look for toners without alcohol.
- Hydrate/Moisturize – daily for all skin types. This includes moisturizers, serums, and oils. Find what works best for your skin type.
- Masks – at least twice a week. Depending on your skin’s needs, masks are a wonderful way to brighten, tighten, and make your skin glow!
- Protect with sunscreen – daily for all skin types. Make sure to find a non-toxic sunscreen to wear during the day to protect your skin from the sun’s UVA/UVB rays.
As you begin to implement each of these steps, you will begin to see beautiful, radiant skin staring back at you in the mirror.
What are your favorite ways to care for your skin? I’d love to hear about them!