When a blog reader asked me for advice on attaining beautiful skin and hair, I was both shocked and immensely flattered. I grew up with acne, and suffered from it into my early 20s. It wasn’t until I changed my diet, that my skin started to clear up and the breakouts were defeated. I still get the occasional pimple, but nothing at all like the ridiculous acne I had for so many years of my life.
Then there are my issues with my hair. I went natural for the first time when I was 16. On the last day of school junior year I showed up with my hair in a gigantic blown out afro! I wish I could find that photo to show you.
For nearly a decade I fluctuated between loving my natural locs and hating my extra kinky kinks; a pattern that presented itself in other areas of my life as well. Like it was with my acne-prone skin, I was always looking for a magic pill that would solve my problems, and help me look the way I thought I should look.
Then, one day I found that magic pill.
So what worked?
First off, it all starts with what you put in. Genetics certainly play a role in your hair and skin, but the expression of those genetics can be positively controlled with diet and hydration. When I’m eating crappy food, and I’m not healthy on the inside, it expresses itself on my skin and in the health of my hair. When I’m eating lots of gorgeous green veggies, drinking lots of water, maintaining healthy digestion, and keeping my stress to a minimum I look my best.
Here are my other tips for attaining healthy skin and hair:
1. Eat plenty of healthy fats everyday! Healthy fat protects every cell in our body. It supports elasticity in our skin, and prevents premature aging. It also keeps our skin and hair well oiled, not dry (which leads to hair breakage, premature aging/wrinkles, and a dull skin tone). Omega-3 fatty acids (found in walnuts, chia, flax, and algae-based supplements) reduce inflammation in the body, thus reducing age spots, hyperpigmentation, and redness.
Eat whole foods that contain healthy fats like olives, nuts, seeds, coconut, and avocados. In addition to providing healthy fats, they also contain a wide variety of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that work to give you beautiful hair and skin.
2. Beta-carotene. Foods rich in this antioxidant protect your skin from damage. They include sweet potatoes (oh yeah!), pumpkin, carrots, and other orange fleshed foods. Greens are also a fantastic source of beta-carotene (aka vitamin A). Eat a balanced and very colorful plant-based diet to make sure you’re consuming plenty of beta-carotene along with other beauty nutrients.
3. Healthy digestion and elimination. When you don’t properly digest your food your body may not be assimilating all of the food’s nutrients. Bummer! Improve your digestion by eliminating all dairy, and eating plenty of fiber. Fiber from whole foods will help “clean you out”, while supporting natural detoxification and good bacteria in your intestines. Good bacteria, probiotics, are also an important part of a healthy hair and skin diet (any diet for that matter). Foods high in probiotics include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi (make sure it’s vegan), miso, natto, tempeh, and vegan yogurt.
4. Get Zinc. This mineral helps maintain healthy hormone levels and immune system. It is found in seeds, beans, grains, and nuts, especially in the seed lining of pumpkin and hemp seeds. Since beans, seeds, nuts, and grains contain phytates, which bind to zinc and lower the body’s ability to absorb it, soak these foods before consuming them. I take a zinc supplement on top of eating my healthy diet––especially when my immune system is compromised or I’m having a breakout.
5. Pop that C. I’m vitamin Cs biggest fan! This antioxidant protects your skin from free radical damage, boosts production of collagen, and protects against sun damage. Vitamin C is found abundant in plant-based foods, especially fruit. Eat plenty of fruit, make your plate very colorful, eat a lot of greens, and you’ll get plenty of vitamin C. During the winter months or when I get a pimple I take a vitamin C supplement.
I hope that was helpful! If you have any other tips for healthy skin and hair please share them with me!!