The 8 Best Foods for Skin Conditions


Acne? Rosacea? Address all your skin problems by noshing on complexion-correcting foods—and avoiding the skincare saboteurs


The Best Healthy Foods for Every Skin Condition
It’s no secret that what you eat affects how you look, but the connection between diet and beauty runs deeper than you may even realize. “The nutrients in your food determine how well your skin can repair itself, defend against damage, and partake in other beauty related actions,” explains Jolene Hart, author of Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty Inside and Out, and director of education for the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance. “Your diet also directly influences hormone levels, which affect your complexion and impact how your genes perform.” The bottom line: You can eat your way to complexion perfection. Here, the best foods to add to your diet to help with eight common skincare concerns—and which snacks to avoid. (Start with these Beauty-Boosting Recipes for a Radiant Complexion.)

If Your Skin Concern Is Acne…

Eat this: Pumpkin seeds, chick peas, oysters, lentils—all of these foods are packed with zinc, a naturally anti-inflammatory mineral that inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria, says Jessica Wu M.D., a Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face.

Avoid this: Blended coffee drinks, which are loaded with two common blemish-inducing culprits: dairy and refined sugar. The former is linked to acne, likely due to the added hormones found in cow’s milk, while the latter raises your insulin levels. “Increased insulin can lead to increased androgens—male hormones—in the bloodstream, stimulating oil glands and leading to breakouts,” Wu explains. (Follow our guide to How Get Rid of Stubborn Acne—for Good.)

If Your Skin Concern Is Wrinkles…

Eat this: Fight fine lines with spices. “They contain tons of powerful, anti-aging phytochemicals. Plus, they are so easy to incorporate into your diet,” Hart says. Her favorites? Turmeric and ginger, which are both anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants to help combat the free radical damage that ages skin.

Avoid this: Food that’s been charred or blackened. Anything dark or overcooked induces the formation of advanced glycation end products (appropriately known as AGEs) in your blood, explains Hart. AGEs occur when sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins, forming these new, damaging molecules that attack and damage collagen and elastin—the proteins in your skin responsible for keeping it smooth and firm. While sugar is a common cause of excessive AGEs, burned foods also have a similar aging effect.

If Your Skin Concern Is Dullness…

Eat this: Start your morning with a glass of lemon water to help balance your body’s pH, suggests Hart. “The common elements of an average American diet—carbs, dairy, sugar—are naturally acidic in the body and disrupt your natural pH,” she explains. “When your pH is off, your cells become exhausted trying to rebalance it. In the skin, this can lead to a dull, lackluster complexion.” The alkaline lemon counteracts any excess acidity, freeing up energy from depleted cells and resulting in more radiant skin. An added beauty boon: Lemon is also a natural liver detoxifier. Flushing out excess toxins will leave skin looking fresher and glowier. (Get smooth skin and shiny hair with 9 Lemon Beauty Recipes for a Sun-Kissed Glow.)

Avoid this: Fried foods. It goes back to the same chemistry class concept—cooked, heated oils are extremely acidic and can greatly disrupt the body’s pH, explains Hart.

If Your Skin Concern Is Discoloration…

Eat this: While sunscreen should always be your first line of defense against sun-induced spots, adding tomatoes and watermelon to your diet is also beneficial. “Both are good sources of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects against sun damage and may help prevent freckling and discoloration,” says Wu. (Interested? Try out these Tomato-Infused Beauty Products and DIY Recipes.)

Avoid this: Refined sugar. Remember those pesky AGEs? The more of them in your body, the more susceptible your skin is to UV exposure, sun damage, and ultimately, an uneven skin tone.

If Your Skin Concern Is Dryness…

Eat this: Healthy fats, like avocado, walnuts, and olive oil. All of these are loaded with omega-3s, which strengthen the skin cell membrane. The stronger and healthier the skin cells are, the better they’re able to retain moisture, says Wu.

Avoid this: Refined, processed carbohydrates. “Your body requires more water to digest and process carbs, meaning the more of them you eat, the more you are robbing your skin of its natural moisture,” says Hart.

If Your Skin Concern Is Sagging…

Eat this: Shitake mushrooms and brazil nuts—both are rich in selenium, which supports skin elasticity, Hart says. Foods with a high vitamin C content (kiwi, colorful peppers) are also a smart choice; the vitamin stimulates the production of collagen, an integral component for firm skin.

Avoid this: Processed foods with chemical additives, specifically preservatives and artificial colors. These also cause the body to produce those damaging AGEs, which break down both collagen and elastin, compromising the skin’s suppleness.

If Your Skin Concern Is Eczema…

Eat this: Hemp seeds. They contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid shown to reduce inflammation and help alleviate eczema, according to Hart. (Learn more about The Hemp Seeds Hype.)

Avoid this: Eczema can be triggered by any number of foods that you may be allergic or have a sensitivity to. Hart advises a two week elimination diet to help determine your personal trigger foods, the most common culprits include eggs, soy, dairy, and gluten.

If Your Skin Concern Is Rosacea…

Eat this: Probiotics. The good-for-your-gut bacteria is linked with the improvement of rosacea, says Hart. While there’s no shortage of probiotic supplements available, they’re naturally occurring in fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

Avoid this: As with eczema, personal triggers can vary, but overly spicy foods (think hot sauce, spicy peppers) almost always lead to excessive redness and flushing. (Maintain a healthy glow by avoiding The 6 Worst Foods for Your Skin.)

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