Your skin is a vital organ, and your body’s largest. The average adult carries around 22 square feet and 8 pounds of it.
Your skin reveals a lot about your health. For instance, skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea are often symptoms that something else is going on in your body and that the problem lies within your gut.
The Skin-Gut Connection
Your gut is not only responsible for absorbing nutrients and excreting waste— it also provides an environment for trillions of micro-bacteria, some beneficial and some not so good. The health and function of your gut can affect many aspects of your health from your mood to your immune system.
The number one role of the gut is to absorb nutrients from your food so that you have energy and your body can grow and repair. Many factors can prevent proper absorption of nutrients.
When your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, it will start to prioritize which cells, tissues, and organs get the available nutrients.
When this happens, your skin is usually one of the first places you notice changes. That’s because when there is a limited amount of nutrients to go around, they will be primarily directed towards your vital organs such as your heart, liver, and brain.
The skin suffers.
The first step in maintaining healthy skin is to make sure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need to keep your gut healthy.
Your Gut Microbiome
Of the trillions of bacteria that reside in your gut, optimally there should be hundreds of different species. They play a variety of roles that involve not just digestion and nutrient absorption, but also the functions of your immune system.
When your microbiome is healthy, it can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. This affects not only your gut, but also your skin. A healthy microbiome can also stimulate your immune system to inhibit inflammation, which can protect your skin from conditions such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, and dermatitis.
Healing Your Skin from the Inside Out
It’s important to give your body the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy gut flora. Here are five ways you can improve your skin by improving your gut health.
Eat plenty of fiber
When your diet is rich in fiber, it feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut. When good bacteria thrive, they create a thicker mucus lining in the intestines, which lowers inflammation throughout the body.
Foods rich in fiber include blackberries, lentils, pears, split peas, carrots, and avocados.
Eat prebiotic-rich foods
Prebiotics are the fuel source of choice for your gut’s beneficial bacteria. They come from indigestible fibers in plant-based foods. Great sources include oatmeal, jicama, garlic, potatoes, and onions.
Take a probiotic supplement
Probiotic supplements can help ensure that the beneficial bacteria in the gut are healthy and fighting off the growth of harmful bacteria.
Look for probiotic species like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium for the best results. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking plenty of filtered water every day is great for your microbiome and will also keep your skin hydrated. You should aim for eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
Promote collagen production
Collagen is a major component in connective tissues, including your skin. It also protects your organs. Many factors can lead to collagen depletion, including aging, environmental pollutants, and nutritional deficiencies. You can promote the production of collagen by eating eggs, leafy greens, salmon, and berries.
The Skincare Diet
You can take care of your skin from the inside out by maintaining a healthy diet.
Add foods rich in lycopene to your diet. Lycopene is a carotenoid — the chemical that gives the striking red color to tomatoes, rosehips, red peppers, and pink grapefruit.
Lycopene is a proven antioxidant — meaning it’s a free radical scavenger. Adding it to your diet can help rejuvenate your skin. Tomato paste is a highly concentrated source of lycopene.
Consider drinking cranberry juice regularly. Cranberries are packed with flavonoids, which have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Cranberries are also a natural breath freshener.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Keep your skin well hydrated by incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in olive oil, salmon, fresh tuna, and flax seed.
Healing Your Skin from the Outside In
Now that you’ve addressed your gut’s role in skin health, it’s time to create a customized skin care routine.
First, determine your skin type. This will help you decide what kind of care your skin needs from the outside and which products to use.
The following is a list of skin types. Read each description to see which skin type matches your own.
- Your skin is neither oily or dry.
- You typically don’t experience many acne breakouts.
- Your skin doesn’t usually have a bad reaction to weather changes or new skin products.
- Your skin feels firm and has minimal wrinkles and lines.
Normal skin is typically easy to maintain because you can usually tolerate a majority of types of skin care products. Healthy foods for normal skin include carrots, berries, red and yellow bell peppers, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds.
- Your skin has a permanent glow.
- You frequently have to blot oil from your face or use a mattifying powder.
- You may have trouble with makeup and skincare products staying in place.
The primary goal when managing oily skin is to minimize shine. Avoid products that contain alcohol, petroleum, and mineral oil. Opt instead for skin care products that are non-comedogenic — meaning they won’t block your pores. These include oil-free moisturizers and clay masks.
Try the following foods for your oily skin: almond milk, pinto beans, quinoa, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, berries, and green tea.
- Dryness is caused by insufficient oil in your skin.
- Signs of dry skin include flakiness, itchiness, skin sensitivity, and fine cracks in the skin.
- Dry skin can be caused by diet, lifestyle, and environmental conditions, or may be due to an underlying condition such as eczema. (Johnson, 2018)
Dry skin sufferers can seal in moisture by applying a rich moisturizer two or three times each day, especially after bathing.
Avoid using makeup or skin care products that contain a lot of fragrance or citrus oils. Also, avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers.
Try the following foods for your dry skin: avocados, olive oil, eggs, sardines, cashews, and almonds.
- Combination skin causes dryness in some areas of your face and oiliness in others.
- The most common type of combination skin is determined by an oily zone across the forehead and down the nose — and normal or dry skin on the rest of the face.
Avoid alcohol-based skin care products and products that contain mineral oil.
Keep your skincare balanced to suit each area of your skin. For example, use spot treatments, toners, and balancing cream to even out your combination skin.
Try the following foods for combination skin: broccoli, cabbage, kale, salmon, carrots, chicken, and eggs.
- If you have frequent or prolonged breakouts, it’s a good chance you have acne-prone skin.
- This skin type means your pores clog easily, making you more prone to blackheads, whiteheads, or pustules. Your skin may be oily or dry and still prone to acne. (Mayo Clinic Acne, 2018)
The most effective way to deal with acne-prone skin is to use treatments specially formulated for this condition. You can also use gentle exfoliants to minimize breakouts.
Gentle cleansers can be used to avoid irritating existing breakouts. Look for acne-eliminating ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, retinol, salicylic acids, and clay.
Healthy foods for acne-prone skin include navy beans, almonds, flax seeds, soy, spinach, kale and lean beef.
- Indicators of sensitive skin include a tendency to flush, frequent rashes, a stinging sensation after using makeup or skin care products, and patches of flaky skin.
- With sensitive skin, you need to be very careful when choosing makeup and skin care products.
- Avoid known irritants such as antibacterial agents and alcohol.
- Choose products free from additives, as well as products that contain anti-inflammatory properties.
- An anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense diet can help to lessen skin sensitivity
Skin Care Products
Whatever your skin type, some essentials should be part of your personalized skincare routine.
For the best results, wash your skin twice a day (morning and night) with micellar water, especially If you’re a sensitive skin type.
Micellar water is made up of tiny balls of moisturizing oil suspended in soft water. It draws out impurities without drying the skin.
- If you have oily skin, a foaming cleanser can remove any excess oil from your skin’s surface.
- If you have dry skin, opt for a cleanser that contains a moisturizer, so it won’t strip your skin of the little moisture it has.
It’s important to moisturize immediately after you’ve cleansed your skin. If you have dry skin, you will benefit from a richer moisturizer than if you have normal skin. You will still need to moisturize if you have oily skin — but use a very light liquid moisturizer.
The sun’s harsh rays can cause premature aging and increase your risk of skin cancer — even on days with cloud cover.
Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, year-round. Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 50+.
Enhancing Your Skin Care Routine
First, focus on the essentials we listed above. Then you can move on to some of the following enhancements, which can further customize your personalized skincare routine.
A serum is applied before a moisturizer. It gives your face an added layer of hydration. There are many different formulas to choose from. Most contain antioxidants that protect your skin from environmental changes and stress.
Facial serums lock in moisture — making them useful to people with dry skin. Serums can also help to reduce the early signs of aging.
Toners help to remove dirt and excess oil from your skin. A quality toner can help to balance your skin’s pH and prepare your skin for a moisturizer.
Though not essential for your skin care routine, eye cream is a valuable extra, especially for mature skin. It’s effective at reducing puffiness and dark circles under the eyes.
Consider treating your face to a mask once a week. There is a wide range to choose from including:
- Clay Masks: Effective for normal to oily skin. Clay masks naturally detoxify the skin while tightening and plumping. A clay mask with enzymes can soothe redness and tenderness.
- Cream Masks: Ideal for normal to dry skin types. Cream masks contain moisturizers that can replenish dry skin cells. Creams containing hyaluronic acid can also pump up the skin.
- Gel Masks: Gel masks are useful for people with sensitive skin who need hydrating. Many gel masks contain antioxidants and collagen known to help heal acne-prone skin.
- Sheet Masks: This type of mask is suitable for all skin types. You can choose from general formulas or a specific formula to suit your skin type.
- Exfoliating Masks: These are suitable for most skin types except for very sensitive skin. Exfoliating masks remove dead skin cells and use fruit enzymes and hydroxy acid to draw dirt from deep within your pores, giving your skin a healthy glow.
An exfoliator sloughs off dead skin cells and freshens dull-looking skin. There are two main types of exfoliator:
- Chemical Exfoliators: These are typically formulated with glycolic acid or fruit enzymes.
- Physical Exfoliators: Typically formulated with small particles that scrub the surface of the skin.
There are several steps to good lip care. Just like the rest of your face, dead skin cells can build up on the surface of your lips.
You can exfoliate your lips with a specially designed lip scrub. It’s recommended you add a lip hydrator immediately after application.
It’s also a good idea to use a lip balm with SPF and reapply it often to prevent your lips from drying out in the sun.
Skin Lightening Treatment
Skin lightening treatments are specially formulated with hydroquinone, which gradually fades discolorations and brown spots caused by sun or aging.
Using a lightening treatment will give your skin a more even tone — even if you have no specific darker skin patches.
Most people see the fading of dark patches after using the treatment daily for 8-12 weeks.
The Importance of a Personalized Skincare Routine
Your skin protects your whole body, meaning it’s crucial you take good care of it. A daily personalized skin care routine is the first step to keeping your skin healthy and young looking. But don’t forget that healthy skin starts with a healthy gut.
Supplements and probiotic skin products can also help. We recommend the following: