I was holding the downward-facing dog pose and there it was staring at me. The dreaded crepey skin had appeared, seemingly overnight. My teenage years with friends at Lake Michigan beaches had caught up with me — baby oil, reflective mats, and the bad sunburns. Did anyone own sunscreen then?
I’ve used body lotion through the years and my bathroom drawers are filled with a myriad of skin products that cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize. And, like you, I’ve read the same recycled articles that scream drink a ton of water and stay out of the sun. I’m active and love the outdoors, so I’m not willing to sit inside visiting the bathroom every thirty minutes. Boring. So, I put on my investigative hat and dove into the latest research, advice, and the stuff no one wants to hear. Here’s what I found and the lessons learned.
Lesson 1: Skin Health Starts from the Inside Out
What we put in our mouths is as important as the skin care products we put on our skin. Awesome skin care products can’t overcome a bad diet. The foods that are essential for our overall health are also great for our skin. This chart gives the skinny (no pun intended) on the best and worst foods for our beloved skin.
Lesson 2: Collagen Can Be Consumed, but Not Just Any Collagen
It’s no secret that our production of collagen is reduced as we age. Collagen is important for healthy skin, ligaments, joints and tendons, bones, muscles and hair. Although the research is mixed on the effectiveness of edible collagen, proponents find the best results with fish collagen peptites. It has the best absorption and bioavailability (read: it gets in your bloodstream) due to its smaller particles, as compared with other animal collagen. A good quality brand is essential. I figure it’s worth giving it a whirl, so I’m adding Vital Proteins Marine Collagen to my smoothies. And, no, it doesn’t taste like a visit to the bottom of an aquarium.
Lesson 3: Dry Brushing Your Skin is Magical
Dry brushing your skin is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that rejuvenates the skin and stimulates our lymphatic system. I read about it several years ago and bought a Yerba Prima Tampico Skin Brush. It helps to remove dead skin and stimulates the circulation of blood feeding the skin. The first time you dry brush it may feel a tad irritating, but don’t brush hard. It’s best done before a shower and three times a week is optimal. Ashley’s Green Life video demonstrates how to use the brush and the importance of brushing towards the heart.
Lesson 4: Some Sunscreens are Bad for Your Skin
Using a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) sunscreen with SPF 30 to 50 is important, but it is essential to understand the goods and bads in the world of sunscreen ingredients. We want to protect our skin, but we also don’t want to harm our skin nor compromise our overall health by exposing ourselves to toxic ingredients.
Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) is a common ingredient in sunscreens and is the most worrisome. According to many toxicology experts, it is linked to hormonal disruptions, allergic reactions, and potentially to cell changes that may lead to skin cancers. (Read more here.) This skin care no-no and other not-so-great substances penetrate the skin, whereas safer mineral-based ingredients create a barrier on top of the skin.
When selecting sunscreens and other skin care products, the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a super resource. EWG provides greater detail on the risks of various ingredients. I tossed several well-known brands and am experimenting with safer brands, striking a balance between safety/skin health and not looking like a pantomimer.
Lesson 5: Supplements Are Vital for Healthy Skin
In the world of supplements, these four stand out as true winners to add to your supplement regimen.
Omega 3 Fish Oil is my favorite, must-have supplement. It acts like a natural moisturizer and revitalizes skin from the inside out. There are so many fish oil benefits that go beyond skin health. My favorite is Nordic Naturals ProOmega-D because it’s a high-quality fish oil that uses a third-party to certify purity standards and ensure the absence of heavy metals like mercury. It combines high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, in addition to a healthy dose of vitamin D3.
Vitamin C is necessary for the growth and repair of all body tissue and is involved in the formation of collagen. It’s best to get vitamin C from foods or a high-quality supplement that comes from food. Most mainstream vitamin C brands are synthetic ascorbic acid, which is typically made from GMO corn, a big ugh for me. After a bit of research, I’ve now added Pure Synergy Pure Radiance C to my supplements and am sprinkling organic Camu Camu powder in my cereal and smoothies. One teaspoon of this high antioxidant powder has ten times the vitamin C in an orange.
CoQ10 (coenzyme Q) is an antioxidant enzyme produced naturally in our bodies and is essential for cellular and tissue health. As we age, we produce less CoQ10, often impacting our energy levels, ability to neutralize free radicals, and cellular and tissue health. CoQ10, taken orally and applied topically, has shown promise in the production of collagen and elastin.
Probiotics are those good, friendly bacteria that live in our guts and help to curb the growth of yeast and unhealthy bacteria. Good skin health and overall health starts with the gut. When our gut flora is not healthy, hello inflammation and dull looking skin. Dr. Mark Hyman’s article on probiotics does a fantastic job of explaining the benefits of this supplement in conjunction with a healthy diet.
Product links in this post are to assist readers. North of 52 receives no compensation for these products.
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