Dry skin can be annoying and even uncomfortable. Cold harsh weather, skin problems, and even the air-conditioner can have you reaching for creams and lotions to alleviate irritation.
But when it comes to moisture – it’s important to consider not just what you’re putting on your body, but also what you’re putting in your body.
A body that’s well-balanced nutritionally is better equipped at keeping skin in balance as well.
So if you’re looking to restore moisture, incorporate nourishing foods in your diet that will do just that…
Here are a few nutrients that really boost the feel of soft supple skin:
1. Foods High in Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and omega-6 are both essential fatty acids. “Essential” in this case means that the body can’t manufacture them on its own–they must be obtained through food sources. And if you’re not getting enough fatty acids in your diet, it may begin to show in your complexion. A deficiency of essential fatty acids can manifest itself as dry, irritated, red, and itchy skin.
Omega fatty acids have strong anti-inflammatory properties that can combat dry skin. Flaky, itchy skin can be caused by pollutants, weather changes, food reactions, stress, sun damage, or underlying skin problems. But omega fatty acids work to reduce irritation. 1
Omega’s also provide skin cell with lipids, which are critical to protecting the skin’s barrier function.2 The skin’s barrier works to keep good things like moisture and nutrients in while keeping bad things like pollution and dirt out. Without enough lipids, the skin barrier can weaken, making it more prone to water loss, dehydration, flakiness, burning, and roughness.
To make sure you’re getting the lipid protection of omega fatty acids–incorporate these foods into your diet.
Fatty fish are a great source of omega-3’s. In fact, one serving of mackerel provides 174% of your daily omega-3 value. Other good options are salmon, tuna, herring, and cod.
Along with fatty acids, nuts like walnuts and almonds contain Vitamin E, a potent moisturizer that also works to guard skin barrier function and fight off damage caused by oxidative stress. Almond also have biotin, a necessary component of skin production and walnuts are packed with B vitamins that help keep skin healthy and renewed.
Besides being abundant in omegas, flax seeds and chia seeds are high in antioxidants and a great source of plant-based protein. Sprinkle some on your oatmeal, cereal, or add them to a skin-smoothing smoothie.
2. Olive Oil
Have you ever wondered how Mediterranean skin can maintain such supple youthfulness despite days spent under the hot sun under the beaches of Mykonos or Sardinia? Well, the answer may partially lie in an olive oil-abundant diet.
The Mediterranean diet has long been famous for its health benefits and those benefits extend to the skin. So, if you’re struggling with skin dryness, try olive oil is as a first line of food defense.
Why Olive Oil is a Powerful Anti-Ager
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat. And now that you’re contemplating beaches (and bathing suits), you may think you don’t want to consume fat. But trust us. You definitely want healthy fats like this in your diet. They’re absolutely necessary to keeping skin cells well-lubricated. Just as external creams keep skin moisturized from the outside-in, healthy fats keep skin cells moisturized from the inside-out.
Olive oil also contains linoleic acid, another essential fatty acid that must be sourced from food. Linoleic acid has health-boosting properties and provides hydration to skin. This acid also has an outstanding ability to permeate the skin barrier. Because of this, linoleic acid helps moisture and nutrients–like antioxidants–to penetrate more deeply into the skin.
Last but not least, olive oil has a wealth of polyphenols 3–a potent type of antioxidant that helps fight off oxidative stress.4
3. Coconut Oil
We’ve talked about the goodness of olive oil. Now, let’s turn to another great oil to add to your diet–coconut. Coconut oil contains caprylic and lauric acids. Both of these acids have anti-inflammatory qualities that help reduce the risk of dry skin. And lauric acid is known for its moisturizing capabilities. Like olive oil, this moisturizes the skin from the inside-out.
So next time you’re stir-frying some vegetables or baking a cake, try a little coconut oil instead of your usual oil or butter!
You’ve probably come across “retinoids” in various creams and moisturizers. Retinoids increase collagen production, smooth skin, and improve the skin’s moisture barrier.
But did you know that retinoids are actually found in food sources? Most retinoids–which are a derivative of vitamin A–are found in animal sources. In fact, beef liver provides the highest concentration of retinoids in a food source. But since beef liver isn’t necessarily a popular food, here’s a retinoid-rich food that’s more universally appreciated: eggs. One large egg provides 80 micrograms’ worth of retinoids.
Retinoids stimulate the activity and number of fibroblasts–which are a type of cell found in the skin that work to keep the skin healthy. When fibroblasts are stimulated, they improve skin hydration,5 keeping skin supple, elastic, and smooth.
And don’t skip the yolk. Even if you’re watching your weight, it’s important to eat the nutrient-dense egg yolk, which is filled with biotin–a B vitamin that keeps skin in good health–as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
How about some avocado on that omelet?
Avocados are another good source of healthy monounsaturated fat that keeps skin cells lubricated and moisturized.
They’re also filled with vitamin C, which helps skin in the healing process, and vitamin E—which promotes blood circulation. Blood circulation, in turn, helps promote a beautiful, glowing complexion.
Foods That Help Skin to Retain its Moisture
Here’s a list of a few other foods that boost supple, soft skin:
Kale, spinach, and Swiss chard contain flavonoids that can protect against oxidative stress.
Brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, and millet contain fiber that helps in the production of a fatty acid. Whole grains are also high in B vitamins, which help suppress a hormone called “homocysteine” that contributes to early aging.
The presence of flavonoids in blueberries make them a particularly strong antioxidant, which keeps skin glowing.
Black beans are high in anthocyanins and other antioxidants.
Other Foods That Make You Appear Younger
There are still other types of food that can play a role in helping to give you younger-looking skin. Not only do they taste great, they may also deliver some substantial health benefits. Here are just a few of them.
Dark chocolate is rich in substances known as flavanols. These help protect the skin from developing damage due to sun exposure. In one study, participants who ate dark chocolate were able to remain in the sun two times as long before their skin turned red than others who ate other types of chocolate containing fewer flavanols.6 Other studies show that people who at high-flavanol chocolate saw improvements in not only skin thickness but skin hydration as well.7
Another of the great-tasting foods that make you look younger than your age, pomegranates are incredibly healthy. They help the skin by protecting it from sun damage, much like dark chocolate.8 This amazing fruit has also been shown to help increase the production of collagen, a substance that helps strengthen skin.9
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a chemical that helps to give them their color.10 Research indicates that foods high in lycopene may help decrease wrinkles.11
Nourishing Foods Keep Skin Hydrated
So if you’ve got that dreaded dry skin, don’t just reach for a moisturizer. Pay attention to your diet as well. Stock up on foods with healthy fats and minerals that increase hydration, as well as foods that counteract the damaging effects of skin irritants.
Article updated: March 27, 2018
For more beauty tips, keep reading:
Why You Should Massage Your Face
9 Vital Beauty Rituals To Do (That You Probably Aren’t)