Our skin is the largest organ of the body and it really is a window into our internal health. Our skin acts as a protective barrier and shield but it also has many other functions such as producing vitamin D, regulating temperature, acting as a sensory organ, secreting oils, and excreting waste substances.
Though our first thought may trend towards topical products when we think of healthy skin we cannot forget about our internal health!
When it comes to skin conditions and symptoms such as acne, dry skin, psoriasis, rosacea, rashes, or eczema, in order to truly find long lasting relief the inner imbalances need to be addressed alongside topical support.
Healthy looking skin can be a good indication of internal health and any conditions that arise need to be looked into further.
Skin problems can come as a result of poor diet, toxin exposure, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, as well as genetics. The good news? Your skin can dramatically improve by altering your epigenetics through diet, lifestyle, and supplements.
And who doesn't want that healthy glowing skin?
Healthy Skin from the inside out
Your nutritional status plays a mighty important role in the maintenance of healthy and beautiful looking skin.
Macronutrients are needed for optimal skin structure and maintenance.
Our skin is mainly made up of protein and more specifically collagen, elastin and keratin which constitute most of the structure of our skin. Lack of protein can result in sagging skin and accelerate skin aging.
Carbohydrates are the fuel source for our cells, including skin cells, and fiber helps to keep our microbiome in tip top shape. These aren't the refined carbohydrates like flours, cakes, and cookies we are talking about of course, we mean whole food complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, broccoli, lentils, chickpeas, and fruit.
A diet lacking in fats can result in dry and dull looking skin as healthy fats are needed for skin elasticity, cell growth and repair, and restoring moisture.
But let's not forget our micronutrients, which are just as essential and help to maintain the structure of the skin and support its many functions. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals and those particularly important for healthy skin include zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, and selenium.
If the skin isn't getting a regular supply of nutrients then it will start to show signs of deficiency.
A diet rich in healthy fats, quality proteins, and plenty of water rich and vibrant fruits and vegetables will help to keep your skin nourished from the inside out.
And let's not forget staying hydrated with plenty of water as your drink of choice!
You now know that food is the foundation to healthy skin but supplements do have a time and a place by providing extra support.
We talked about how important vitamins and minerals are for skin health, and sometimes diet is not enough to cover all of our bases. This is where a multi-vitamin can help to bridge the gap between what you are eating and what you should optimally be getting. Find out here if a multi-vitamin might be right for you.
As the most abundant protein found in the body, we couldn't not talk about it! Collagen can help to promote strong healthy skin while slowing signs of skin aging.
Supplementation with collagen has been shown to improve skin elasticity and hydration, slow the visible effects of aging, and enhance skin texture (1)(2)(3)(4).
Now, humans do produce collagen internally however production starts to decline in our early 20's. Collagen production can also be compromised with exposure to toxins, sun damage, and chronic stress.
Many people report beneficial changes to their hair and skin with regular collagen supplementation. One of our favourite collagen supplements is vital proteins, find out why here.
Gelatin is also a protein but it is derived from cooking collagen. As a result it has a thicker more gelatinous texture to it which makes it ideal to use as a cooking agent in foods such as gummies, broths, and soups.
Though it is not a complete protein source, as it is missing the amino acid tryptohan, it is almost exclusively made up of protein and supplies a variety of important amino acids for healing such as glycine, glutamic acid and proline.
Gelatin has been shown to improve skin health and reduce the effects of aging while increasing moisture and skin hydration by providing the building blocks necessary for collagen production (5)(6).
It is also commonly chosen for its benefits on gut health, which is a significant influencer on skin health (7)(8).
Essential fatty acids
Aka the good fats, these omega 3 and omega 6 fats are essential for beautiful looking skin! Essential fatty acids help to keep the skin moisturized, produce natural oils, maintain barrier function, slow skin aging, and protect the skin from sun damage.
GLA, gamma linolenic acid, is an essential omega 6 fatty acid and commonly recommended supplement for skin health and can help to improve symptoms such as itchy skin, wrinkles, and dry skin (9). Deficiency can promote inflammatory conditions such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and dermatitis. GLA is found primarily in borage oil but also evening primrose oil. You can use it orally or topically.
Omega 3 fats are well known for their anti-inflammatory effects which can help to reduce oxidative damage and treat inflammatory conditions of the skin (10).
Omega 3 fats can also help to improve insulin function, establish a healthy stress response by blunting cortisol and reducing inflammation, promote wound healing, and reduce UV damage which all impact skin health (11).
This mineral is found in the skin and for good reason! It is essential for proper wound healing and it helps to protect skin from UV damage and reduce inflammation.
Especially helpful for treating acne, a study found it to be just as effective as antibiotics and zinc deficiency may be a significant contributor to acne development (12)(13).
It can be easy to get carried away with skin care products but many times, less is more! Not to mention most products on the market of full of chemicals which can promote inflammatory reactions in the skin and hormonal imbalances, making the issue worse.
But won't oils make my skin more oily? It can actually be the opposite! When we strip our skin's barrier of its natural oils it can promote increased oil production which can lead to even oilier looking skin.
Essential oils such as frankincense, neem, lavender, and tea tree can benefit the skin by acting as anti-microbials and reducing inflammation.
Essential oils should always be used with caution and diluted in a carrier oil when used topically.
Borage, seabuckthorn and jojoba oil are great examples of carrier oils that are gentle and can help to improve the overall appearance and health of skin.
Skin toners can help to prep the skin for other treatments such as moisturizers or makeup while getting rid of excess oil or impurities.
Witch hazel is a natural toner that can benefit inflammatory conditions of the skin such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema through mechanisms of cleansing, toning, and soothing the skin.
Don't go overboard with it though as it can dry out your skin if used excessively. As always start with a small amount to test out the product and verify if it's right for you.
Serums are formulated to penetrate deeper into the skin and are more potent than other skin products as they are meant to deliver a more therapeutic effect.
Widely touted for its anti-aging effects, hyaluronic acid is a a common ingredient found in serums and its 100% natural, extracted from a vegetable similar to a wild yam.
As certain factors such as pollution, UV damage, smoking, and the natural aging process can deplete hyaluronic acid levels, topical application can help your skin combat the effects of aging and inflammation, leaving it looking smoother and healthier (14)(15).
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.