By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
It is no secret that the global skin care market is a billion-dollar industry. According to Forbes, it is estimated to even grow to $220 billion by 2025. From big chain brands to independent start-ups, new skin care products pop up almost everywhere that can address almost any skin problem. But here’s some food for thought: Research has shown that not all skin care products work the way they say they do and that the answer to better skin may not be what you put on your body, but what you put in it. So instead of spending thousands looking for that “holy grail,” maybe the answer to better skin may just be found in your kitchen all along.
The skin care product industry is vast, covering facial creams, toners, cleansing lotions, shaving creams, exfoliators, serums, facial masks, and sun care. Flip a magazine page, click on your favorite website, or check on your social media, you won’t miss an ad or two about it. But still, not all products work as well as they claim. This, they say, is called the pseudoscience of skincare, or making scientific claims without further scientific evidence.
“Dermatologist-approved,” “Patented Formula,” “Deep Cleaning,”“Miracle,” and “Clinically Proven,” Have you ever heard of these statements? Unfortunately, some of these products invest more in marketing than science, and for the consumer. It costs them big bucks to, well, look the same. This is not to say that all skincare products are questionable, as some have really been tested, proven, and FDA-approved. But what if the secret to good skin is in your diet all along? It sounds like old advice, but the link between diet and skin is backed up by science.
When it comes to aging, there is what is called intrinsic aging (the chronological, natural process of aging that happens physiologically), and extrinsic aging (affected by external factors such as climate, pollution, stress, sun exposure, lifestyle, and diet). Since intrinsic aging is inevitable, extrinsic aging can be prevented by regular physical activity, a healthy lifestyle, and consuming the following foods that can slowly, but gradually, lead to better skin:
- Carotenoids:are antioxidants that protect the skin from ultraviolet light exposure and sunburn. These include Vitamin A, beta-carotene, astaxanthin, lycopene, and retinol. Examples of carotenoid-rich foods are carrots, mangoes, and papaya (beta-carotene), salmon and shrimp (astaxanthin), tomatoes (lycopene), milk, cheese, and egg yolk (retinol).
- Tocopherols: or Vitamin E, are antioxidants that also fight free radicals that can lead to inflammation and aging. It also helps hasten skin healing. Examples are green leafy vegetables and sunflower oil.
- Polyphenols: contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that also protects from sun damage and oxidative stress that can lead to premature skin aging. Polyphenols also include flavonoids. Vegetables, green tea, dark chocolate, and red wine contain polyphenols, while blueberries and purple grapes contain flavonoids.
- Ascorbic acid: or Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps with oxidative damage, collagen production, and skin healing and repair. It can be found in leafy greens and citrus fruits.
- Essential fatty acids: such as omega-3 and omega-6 are essential for healthy cellular function and also aids in the production of the skin’s natural oils that keep the skin hydrated and balanced. Omega-3s are found in salmon, mackerel, walnuts, sardines, and soy, while omega-6s are found in nuts such as pistachios and walnuts, tofu, and flaxseed oil. There is a right balance of these, however, and make sure to consume foods that contain more omega-3 than omega-6.
- Pre- and probiotics: are healthy bacteria that keep the gut healthy, providing anti-inflammatory effects that may benefit the skin, from fewer skin allergies to fewer breakouts. For a healthier gut, consume fiber-rich food, probiotic foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, miso, and kimchi, prebiotic foods such as onions, garlic, and asparagus, as well as limiting sugar and processed foods.
Consuming these are not to confuse with taking supplements instead. It is still better to get antioxidants from food, as food offers a combination of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that make for better nutrition and a safer and cheaper option than what a supplement can offer. As you can see, the right food can provide multiple benefits for the skin that other topical products can only claim.
It is important to ask and research when it comes to anything that you put outside, as well as inside your body. When it comes to skin care products, it is always a wait-and-see approach when it comes to what works on your skin and what doesn’t. Still, it is better to consult with a dermatologist when it comes to trying a new skin care product, as every skin is different, and not all products are true to their claim. It is also as important to look at your lifestyle and your diet, and adopt one that benefits not only your skin, but your overall health as well. When it comes to supplements, make sure to change your diet before you add them, and get clearance from your doctor as well. It is never too late to start living healthy. Your body, and your skin, will thank yourself later.