The plant world has given us so much in the way of beneficial ingredients for our health and wellbeing. And here, Registered Nutritionist, Rose Holmes, Education & Training Manager at Rio Health, picks out the best for our skin and the dietary choices to support healthy skin.
A healthy beauty routine starts with a healthy diet and lifestyle, ensuring plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, minimising sugar, alcohol and processed (and fried) foods. Optimal hydration is essential, especially in winter months when both harsh weather and central heating can dry skin. It is also important to use natural products on the skin, starting with a quality, natural oil, like rosehip seed oil, to moisturise, nourish and rejuvenate the skin.
Nourishing skin from the inside is also essential. Look for a product with highly bio-available orthosilicic acid and other minerals that support connective tissue. These ingredients support hair, skin and nails. Silicon is an especially important, and often overlooked, nutrient that supports connective tissue and is important for the maintenance of healthy hair, skin and nails. Zinc and other minerals also contribute synergistically with silicon in this respect. Bioavailability from food sources of silicon (green beans, oats and brown rice) is thought to be limited, but when delivered as liquid orthosilicic acid (the form in which it exists in the human body), it is readily absorbed.
Natural botanical ingredients have many beneficial properties which can moisturise, revitalise and renew skin. Combinations of these botanicals provide nourishment to skin and can help prevent tired, dull skin, dehydration and wrinkles. They can reduce the slowing down of cell renewal that can occur in ageing and help encourage a brighter and more radiant complexion.
Optimal hydration is absolutely essential. Keep the body and skin well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It is essential to remember that in winter, skin and body can become dehydrated and this has huge impact on the skin. And hydration is important year round.
A healthy, balanced diet with good sources of protein and plenty of vegetables in all colours is also important. Protein is needed for skin repair and renewal and a ‘rainbow’ of vegetables can provide the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed for healthy skin.
In addition to looking for what is included in skincare products, consider what is excluded. Look for a product range that has no nasties. Added ingredients such as parabens, PEGs, DEA, TEA, SLS and others may negatively impact both skin and whole-body health.
Examples of nasties to avoid include the following:
- Parabens: Widely-used preservatives, research suggests parabens have oestrogen-mimicking properties and may lead to impaired fertility or foetal development and may associate with increased risk of breast cancer.
- Paraffin and petrochemicals: Mineral oils are petroleum derivatives, commonly used as emollients and lubricant but are often contaminated with impurities. These petro-ingredients may affect the ability of skin to breathe, may clog pores and cause acne and may cause skin to age prematurely.
- PEGs (polyethylene glycols): These are petroleum-based chemicals used to soften, thicken and aid moisture retention of the product. Like other petroleum-based chemicals, PEG compounds can be contaminated with impurities. PEGs also are penetration enhancers and therefore may allow other compounds to absorb more readily through skin into the body. These can therefore cause skin irritation and system toxicity.
- Ethanolamine compounds, DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine): Ammonia compounds used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in cosmetics. Links have been shown between ethanolamines and cancer in laboratory animals. Skin irritation inflammation and organ/neural system toxicity have also been linked.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): A surfactant used commonly to help create foam, it should also be avoided. SLS and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) are penetration enhancers. These, therefore, have the same potential negative effects of PEGs – facilitating absorption, too, of potential irritants and toxins. SLS and SLES also strip natural oils from the skin, causing dryness, irritation and sometimes allergic reaction.
- Synthetic fragrances: These often irritate sensitive skin and are not necessary when there are wonderful essential oils and other natural ingredients to give fragrance.
- Alcohol (ethanol): This is dehydrating and may damage by destroying natural oils in skin, resulting in dry, cracked skin.
Look instead for natural oils which moisturise, nourish, protect and regenerate, and very importantly, look for ranges which have no nasties.
Vegan ranges mean not only that there are no animal or animal-derived ingredients, but also that the products are not tested on animals. Using products that include unnatural ingredients can mean the body having to work harder to detoxify some of the constituents.
Ensure a good quality pure and natural oil with essential fatty acids and nourishing antioxidants as an essential ingredient in skincare products. Rosehip seed oil is an excellent choice because it has a balance of omega fatty acids with naturally occurring antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, as well as trans-retinoic acid. Rosehip seed oil is highly moisturising and regenerative and, in trials, shows ability to heal and fad post-surgical scars, as well as to prevent the advancement of premature ageing. So, rosehip seed oil helps diminish fine lines, wrinkles and stretch marks as well as acne scars.
Also important is repairing and renewing the skin’s protective barrier. Rosehip seed oil offers both these benefits to skin. Rosa mosqueta oil has restoring and rejuvenating properties. It helps to keep skin hydrated and soft and helps promote and may accelerate cell regeneration.
Like rosa mosqueta oil, Sacha inchi is rich in omega essential fatty acids and antioxidant vitamin E. Sacha inchi oil is very protective, high in antioxidants and highly moisturising. Other richly moisturising oils include avocado, Macadamia ternifolia, and Orbignya oleifera (babassu). Coconut oil protects from dehydration and softens skin. Cranberry seed oil is also rich in antioxidants, is super-absorbing and moisturising and may protect the skin from environmental stressors. Cranberry seed oil may help improve skin elasticity and boost collagen.
Other wonderful natural ingredients to look for include Manilkara multivervis, which rehydrates skin tissue and repairs, protects and promotes skin elasticity, and Bambusa arundinacea (golden bamboo), a natural vegetable scrub that cleanses and removes impurities. Golden bamboo is a fantastic ingredient in exfoliating products as it helps to brighten the skin.
Chamomilla recutita is soothing and anti-inflammatory, Calendula officinalis soothes, softens and heals, full of antioxidants that protect and prevent harmful oxidative damage and Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) heals, soothes and protects.