The most important factors are eating a healthy diet, protecting your skin from the sun and not smoking. You can supplement and use topical applications all you like, but if you have not got the first three rules down pat, then the advice to follow will most likely make little or no difference. Once you have implemented the above three the next vital step is hydration. Drink lots and lots of water to aid your body’s cleansing processes and most importantly to hydrate your skin from the inside.
The most common supplements used to treat skin ailments, especially acne, dry skin and the like, are as follows vitamin A (retinol), zinc and vitamin C.
- Vitamin A is one of the most widely used vitamin supplement for healthy skin. This is because of the number of ways that Vitamin A improves the skin’s physiology. It is most commonly known for, inhibiting sebaceous (skin oil) gland action, it also has a number of other functions not limited to promoting cell replenishment in the skin. The most vitamin
- A-rich foods are cod liver oil, other sources include organ meats such as liver and kidney and dairy from pastured cows.
- Zinc is an essential mineral for skin health, and after Vitamin A it is the next most important on the list. Zinc aids the correct structuring of proteins and cell membranes, improves wound healing, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and protects from UV radiation. It is also vital for DNA synthesis, cell division, immune function and wound healing. Several studies have indicated that it may be as effective as antibiotic treatment for acne. The best dietary sources are organ meats such as kidney and liver and seafood such as oysters, scallops, and other shellfish. If you are vegetarian pumpkin seeds are the best source.
- Vitamin C, vitamin C, vitamin C… In order for your skin to maintain its elasticity and firmness, vitamin C is vital. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in the regulation of collagen’s structure. As we all learn vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include rough dry skin, bleeding gums, splotches/spots on the skin and anaemia. Increased intake of vitamin C in the diet aids skin health and faster healing. Deficiency is uncommon, but not including enough fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet can lead to sub-optimal levels. Eat lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables including bell peppers, kiwi, citrus fruits, guavas and strawberries. Eat as many of these as possible raw and uncooked, or very lightly steamed as vitamin C is destroyed by heat.
As many women struggle with hormonal imbalances which affect skin health, as well as often leaving the skin tight or with breakouts, essential fatty acids, specifically GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) is essential. Evening primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil are all good sources of GLA, which aids both hormonal balance, but also promotes healthy of skin. Be patient, hormonal balancing can take up to three months.
The prevention of acne, we all associate acne with our teenage years, but many of us continue to struggle from time to time as adults with acne. Unfortunately genes, hormones and stress are all factors which influence this. The most important changes to implement are:
- Increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet
- Include omega 3 fatty acid source in the diet like salmon, flaxseed and hemp oil
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
- Supplement with a vitamin B complex to help with stress
- Remove processed, refined and sugary foods from your diet
- Increase your intake of Vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc
Vitamin C has a couple of supplemental partners, which aid in skin health, namely:
- Vitamin E, reduces dryness, acts as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, plus aids in the protection of the skin. Supplement daily with 400-1000iu (D-alpha-tocopherol form)
- Selenium protects acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, aids in reducing the signs of aging, and helps protect against skin cancer. . Supplement daily with 100mcg.
- Combine with a regular daily dose of 1000-3000mg of Vitamin C (in the ester-C form)
These dosages are suggested specifically for skin ailments. Please do not undertake any supplementation without the advice of a health care practitioner or your GP.
Topically there are a number of herbs which can be applied to the skin, but also look out for the following herbs in the skin creams and lotions which you apply.
- Chamomile is one of the best natural skin treatments. Studies have reported that it reduces the appearance of fine lines. Most importantly though it is extremely effective as a skin soother and anti-inflammatory. Use a cool cup of chamomile tea as a natural face wash and even apply the tea bags directly onto your skin.
- Witch Hazel is an anti-inflammatory that helps to reduce inflammation, particularly effective on pimples/acne. It is a natural astringent, tightening the skin and it cleans off excess sebum/oil without drying out the skin. Look for it in toners and face washes.
- Aloe vera applied topically as a gel under your moisturiser or make-up is the best way to apply it. It also makes a brilliant, soothing aftershave lotion. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and is widely used to soothe sunburn and even treat burn wounds. It is also anti-microbial, rich in vitamin C and E all of which make it very effective in the treatment of acne.
- Calendula or marigold is also a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral herb. It is widely used to treat wounds and soothe damaged skin, including sunburn, cuts and scrapes.
- Lavender we all know for its soothing aroma, but it soothing effects are not limited to the scent. Lavender contains high levels of linalool. Linalool is specifically known for its assistance in skin healing and anti-aging effects. It also has the added benefits of keeping skin firm and preventing wrinkles. Lavender encourages the renewal of skin cells, reduces scaring, aids in the treatment of acne and also is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-septic. Look for it in acne treatment preparations and moisturisers.
- Lemongrass, like witch-hazel is an astringent herb. It helps to reduce oil secretions, firm the skin and minimise pores, look for it in for skincare products aimed at treating oily skin and acne. It is also known for its anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties. Another vital point is that it is anti-fungal and may aid in the healing of topical fungal infections. Besides finding it in skincare products it can also be infused in boiling water and used as a facial steam treatment to clear pores. Follow the steam treatment with a splash of cold water to close the pores.
Remember most importantly you are literally what you eat and drink. Please consult your GP or healthcare practitioner before embarking of any course of treatment.
About The Author:
After eight years in the retail side of the health industry, much accumulation of knowledge and information I changed industries completely and gone back to my graphic design roots. I still wish to help inform people on natural alternatives, as well as help people when they are choosing to use natural alternatives to treat disorders, diseases and distresses.
(Read more posts by Charlie)