Even on our best days, maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin can feel like a chore. Other times, it feels more like a battle—or a science experiment, with all the lotions, potions, serums and other goops and goo we apply to our faces, hands, feet and everywhere in between.
Thankfully, outside of pronounced skin conditions that require medical intervention, basic day-to-day behaviors can go a long way toward helping you keep your skin looking its best—with minimal fuss. Let’s talk about some ways to achieve healthy skin from inside out.
But before we get into promoting healthy skin from the inside out, let’s take a look at what we talk about when we talk about “skin”:
- Typically, when you talk about skin care, you’re talking about taking care of the top layer of skin, or the epidermis. This is the skin that you can see, the portion that generates new skin cells protects the body and includes the melanin that gives your skin its unique color.
- This is the thickest layer of your skin, between the first and the third. This is the layer that makes oil, sweat, and provides circulation to the epidermis. This is also the layer that allows you to feel things—this is where your nerve endings are.
- This is the third, innermost layer of your skin. This is how your skin attaches to your muscles. The subcutis also acts as a barrier or cushion, provides nutrients, and helps regulate your temperature.
Good ol’ H2O should be the linchpin in your beauty routine, whether you’re treating your skin from the inside out or the outside in.
There are so many benefits to drinking enough water each and every day, there are almost too many to count! The health of your whole body and each of your body’s systems and processes rely on adequate hydration—from blood flow to digesting the food you eat to adequately absorbing your food’s nutrients.
But what does getting your daily dose of water do for your skin and complexion? A lot!
Your skin is an organ—your body’s largest, actually—and like all of your organs, it needs water to function properly and thrive. Don’t take in enough water, and your skin will start to look dull, dry, and flaky. You may also start down the path to fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.
Luckily, this is all easily avoided simply by making sure you’re properly hydrated: 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day is the typical recommendation for most adults.
Water Temperature & Quality
OK, so these aren’t quite from the inside out, but your skin will still thank you. We all love a hot shower, but too hot can dry out your skin—or even burn it. Luke-warm or cool water is better for your skin’s health. Have hard water? Soft water? You should find out. The pH of your water can play tricks on your skin’s pH and may affect its vibrancy.
Inflammation-Fighting Food & Drink
You are what you eat. That goes for your skin as much as any part of your body. You can—and should—enjoy anything you like in moderation, but being aware of which foods promote inflammation and which thwart it will go a long way toward keeping your skin calm and radiant.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods & Drinks
Foods and ingredients that are either known or believed to cause inflammatory responses in the skin include, but aren’t limited to:
- It may be a liquid, but it’ll dry out your system—and your skin.
- Dairy (milk, creams, cheese, butter). Science isn’t 100% sure on the link between dairy and acne, but there’s a connection. Dairy products can also cause rosacea flare-ups.
- Grease bombs. If it’s fried, please deny. Fast foods, fatty foods, and anything slick are known causes of inflammation. Just say “No.”
- Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab). Thanks to the high iodine content in shellfish, acne can be exacerbated if you indulge too often.
- Sugar and high GI foods and ingredients. Anything that spikes your blood sugar can wreak havoc on your skin. Collagen is weakened by consistently high blood sugar levels, which can lead to lax skin and other droops and bags.
Indulge in Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients
Conversely, what you eat and drink can fight inflammation of the skin (and other organs, and your joints). Try swapping known inflammatory offenders with some anti-inflammatory all-stars:
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries)
- Citrus fruit
- Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower)
- Leafy green veggies
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, chia, flaxseed)
- Some oils (coconut oil, olive oil)
- Some spices (ginger, turmeric)
Vitamin & Mineral Supplements
Yes, there certainly seems to be a supplement for everything. There’s no lack of supplements for promoting thriving skin from the inside out, and they’re a great way to ensure you get the vitamins and minerals your skin needs to stay its healthiest. Look for supplements that include the following to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck:
- Vitamin A
- B-Complex vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Who doesn’t like a good night’s sleep? Like the rest of your body, the skin uses your nightly downtime to recharge and reinvigorate.
Many skin conditions may be made worse by a lack of sleep, including:
- Bad sleep or not enough sleep can cause the body to release stress hormones, like cortisol, sending all the body’s hormones out of whack. Hormone imbalance often leads to breakouts.
- An immune-related skin condition due to inflammatory response, eczema flares can occur thanks to not getting enough shut-eye.
- Like eczema, this immune system related skin condition is agitated by a lack of sleep.
So what can be done? Pay close attention to your routine and start practicing sleep hygiene. Start winding down at the same time every day, avoid using your phone and watching TV in bed (the blue light from the screens can keep you awake), and partake in relaxing activities before bed: reading, meditating, or a bath.
Some skin woes certainly benefit best from topical treatment, but that doesn’t mean that these four inside-out approaches can’t help you get a leg up on complexion health. While sleeping enough, eating right, and staying hydrated may seem like no-brainers, when viewed through the lens of skin care and health, their value takes on a new light so achieving a healthy skin is not so difficult.
About the Author
Stephan Maldonado is a digital marketer, health & fitness enthusiast, and aspiring novelist. He is currently a freelance writer for SHOP.COM, where he writes about a variety of health-related topics.