Who on earth doesn’t want amazing skin?
The good news is plants are here to help! And they are cheap! Forget your La Prairie or Creme de la Mer expensive gloop. In order to get and maintain beautiful skin, we need lots of alkaline, anti-inflammatory, vitamin and mineral-rich foods (veg, fruit, legumes, beans) that nourish and keep the skin well hydrated; whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, wholewheat products etc) to keep the moisture inside us as long as possible; and nutritious fats (found in avocados, nuts and seeds) that keep the skin moisturised from the inside out.
Meat dairy and eggs are acid-y when in the body and only promote skin inflammation and dehydration.
Here are some of the absolute best things you can do to maintain a youthful, dewy, glowy, radiant skin. Some are well-known and scientific, and hell, I’ve thrown in a few anecdotal tips that I’ve found out for myself. YOU’RE WELCOME!
- Water, water, water. Of course skin needs water to stop it from drying out. If you eat a whole-food, plant-based diet, you don’t need to go too crazy as the veg and fruit you eat will contain lots of water, so just drink when you feel thirsty – but don’t put it off. If you are not vegan, then at least a litre and a half of water (plus more if you feel thirsty) per day will keep the skin well-hydrated. You can always do the dehydration test (not hugely scientific but nevertheless a good indication): Put your hand, palm side down, flat on a table; pinch some skin from the back of your hand and hold it for a couple of seconds. Release it! If it goes back down flat right away – well done! You are well hydrated. If it takes a couple of seconds to go down, this is telling you you need to be supping more water.
- Vitamin E – This is an anti-oxidant vitamin and, as such, great for the skin, and anti-aging. Get it from nuts, seeds, green leafy veg, and whole grains. Olives and avocados are other great sources, and as we know, avocados have the added benefit of providing the moisturising oils to the skin. Try avocado toast, avocado maki rolls or rustle up a quick guacamole.
- Vitamin C – Yup, good old, ubiquitous (in the plant world, anyway!) vitamin C. Aside from being an antioxidant, it is needed to produce the collagen which maintains the skins structure. so chow down on those citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, and brussels sprouts!
- Vitamin A – Get yo’ vitamin A on – in the plant-based form – beta carotene. Like vitamin C, this is a powerful antioxidant. Generally speaking, the more intense a colour the fruit or veg is, the more beta carotene it contains. Orange, yellow and red veg are great examples. Get chomping on sweet potatoes, carrots, red peppers, cantaloupe and butternut squash. Green leafy veg are good sources too. DON’T take beta carotene supplements though. This could mean you get too much. Although not seriously harmful in excess, it can turn your skin orange – really! Just get your vits from your food and you’ll be fine.
- Zinc – This hardworking mineral doesn’t get as much press as vitamins A and E when talking about healthy skin, but it is vital for skin healing and reparation. If you have acne or psoriasis you may need to check you have adequate levels of zinc with your medical practitioner. Vegetarians and vegans may get told they can only get zinc from animal foods, but, like lots of things we get told, this is monumental BS. You can get plenty from brown rice, wholemeal bread, legumes, nuts, seeds and beans.
And here are a few anecdotal tips!
- Dried rose buds. What do you do with these? You make an infusion with them, that’s what. You can get them from any Chinese herbalist, or from ebay. Put maybe 6 or 7 buds in a large mug and pour boiling water on top. Leave for a few minutes and drink. This has been used for centuries in China as a skin beautifier, and if you have it before bed you may even notice the rosy hue in your cheeks the next morning! I can’t NOT have a big cup of this before bed now! Added bonus – it is also thought to ease depression and menstrual cramps, calm nerves and aid the body in absorbing iron.
- Coconut oil (as a topical night cream!) In my opinion, you don’t need fancy schmancy creams to have great skin. Cut the middle man and just invest in a jar of coconut oil (good coconut oil, mind; organic virgin). All the expensive-ass creams contain coconut oil anyway, so you’ll just be getting the goodness of the creams, but cheaper! Apply it liberally before bed and massage in well. Though it is oil, it doesn’t feel too greasy on the skin, and absorbs quite quickly. Rose-hip oil is also fantastic, but coconut oil works out more economical.
- Kimchi – I noticed a while back that whenever I ate kimchi, the following day my skin was glowing. I had no idea why this could be – in particular why the effect would be so immediate. After a little research I’ve found that kimchi is chocka with vitamins A and C, which would go some way to explaining its beauty promoting qualities (see above). For it to work so quickly however, there must be something else at play too. I don’t know what that is. Maybe it’s because it aids digestion, and good digestion is reflected in your skin (bad digestion can give you skin issues). Maybe it’s that if your gut is happy with all the good bacteria from the kimchi, then your skin is happy too. All I know is that there are lots of Korean blogs touting kimchi as being amazing for the skin, so I know there is something to it. And I’ve seen it for myself!
Don’t waste hard-earned money on the gloop and the gunk in fancy packaging.
Combine these tips with lots of fresh air and exercise, and your skin will show you how grateful it can be!