Lotions, potions, and supplements galore, the beauty industry is flooded with products promising everything from clearing up blemishes and erasing wrinkles, to evening out tone. While there are some really great products out there, getting carried away by appealing packaging, promising label claims, and the feedback from your favorite influencers can be easy to do.
Instead of meandering the skincare “aisle” alone, we want to provide you with a go-to guide that can benefit all skin-types, one that digs deep into the “hows” and “whys” of certain ingredients, and nails down the top essentials to help boost your inner glow without any harsh chemicals or lofty price tags!
Tips for Healthy Skin
Although it’s easy to judge a book by its cover, beauty is much more than just “what meets the eye.”
The outer appearance of one’s skin (the body’s largest organ) is greatly influenced by things like diet, physical activity, environmental exposures, and emotional health. Just like other organs of the body, the skin has a variety of functions, including being our immune system’s first line of defense, maintaining sensations to our physical environment, and protecting our cells from the harmful effects of the natural environment.
When the skin’s health is impacted, not only will our complexions suffer, but the skins other functions can also become faulty.
Despite some things being out of our control in regards to skin health—such as age and genetic makeup—there are several basic building blocks we can all maintain each day to ensure our skin is kept in tip-top shape.
Diet is first and foremost when it comes to glowing skin. If you put junk in, you will get junk out, and so feeding your cells nutrient-dense foods every day is key. Brightly -olored vegetables and fruits are loaded with antioxidants that help fend-off aging. Nuts, seeds, and fatty fish are chock full of healthy fats to maintain moisture and suppleness, and lean proteins provide amino acid building blocks for our body to maintain skin’s structure. Proper hydration is also crucial, as the skin is made up of approximately 64% water, and not only does water maintain proper moisture levels within skin cells, but it also allows for the removal of waste-products that can otherwise can clog up pores.
Sleep is also critical, as sleep is the time our body regenerates broken down cells, including our skin cells which completely renew every 28-40 days.
Outside of diet and healthy habits, environmental exposures to things like harsh chemicals and pollutants can also tax the health of our skin, so opting for clean ingredient lists on body care items, as well as becoming cognizant of the ingredients in homecare products is also key for assisting our skin’s ability to detoxify.
Last, but certainly not least is emotional health. While life’s highs and lows may be more difficult to overcome then just going to bed earlier, practicing mindfulness, increasing activities that bring you pleasure and joy, and decreasing time spent with technology can all bolser emotional stability and therefore decrease the hormonal imbalances that can come with too much stress.
Outside of diet and lifestyle factors, here are our tried-and-true, research-backed skin care recommendations for making your skin glow, naturally.
Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder
Vital Proteins – Collagen Peptides Unflavored – 20 Packet(s)What it is: Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in the body, comprising about ⅓ of the body’s dry weight. It makes up the connective tissues of the body, including those in the skin, bones, cartilage, cornea, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
How it Works: By acting like the “scaffolding” to which the body is made, collagen provides both strength and structure to our cells, tissues, and organs. Losing close to 20% of one’s total collagen by the age of 40, supplementing with collagen can help support skin elasticity, promote cellular repair, enhance cell turnover, and inhibit the onset of fine lines and wrinkles (1).
Recommended Product: Although there are approximately 28 different types of collagen peptides, 80-90% of the collagen found in the skin is Type I and III. Inclusive of collagen, in addition to other glow-boosting nutrients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and probiotics, Vital Proteins grass-fed Beauty Collagen Glow packets are perfect for traveling and adding to water or juice. Looking for something that can be added to anything without affecting flavor? Opt for their original Collagen Peptides instead.
Natural Factors – BioSil ch-OSA Advanced Collagen Generator – 30 ml.What it is: Silica is a trace mineral that is commonly found in foods and supplements, including asparagus, celery, cucumbers, chickpeas, green beans, leeks, mangoes, strawberries, and horsetail or bamboo supplements.
How it works: Silica helps to maintain the health of our connective tissues, by supporting the body’s production of collagen, as well as its role in the formation of compounds such as elastin (promotes skin elasticity) and glycosaminoglycans (GAG’s). Certain GAG’s, including hyaluronic acid and keratin help to maintain proper moisture levels, as well as maintain the skin’s protective barrier (2).
Recommended product: Biosil contains a clinically-proven form of choline-stabilized silica, one that has been shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by 19%. It comes in various forms, but we like the liquid version as it has no taste and can be added to water, smoothies, or tea/coffee.
Dr. Mercola – Complete Probiotics 70 Billion CFU – 60 CapsulesWhat it is: Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that help the body digest and assimilate nutrients, balance the immune system, tame systemic inflammation, and communicate with the brain to balance hormones and neurotransmitters. They can be found in supplemental form, as well as in fermented and cultured foods.
How it works: While one may not associate the GI microbiome with skin health, research has shown that the balance and diversity of bacteria residing in one’s GI tract can have a direct impact on the microbial environment existing on the skin (aka the “SKINBIOME”). When a disarray occurs in the gut due to bacterial overgrowth or excessive food fermentation, inflammation and a hyper-active immune response can lead to topical reactions, like redness, breakouts, clogged pores, etc (3). Supplementing with a high-quality probiotic can maintain the balance needed for optimal skin health.
Recommended product: A combination of both lactobacillus and bifidobacteria is a good starting point when it comes to probiotic supplementation. Certain strains, including L. Plantarum and B. Bifidum have been shown to have a positive effect on skin health, and Dr. Mercola’s blend of 10 strains and 70 billion bacteria per serving includes both of these strains in a shelf-stable, easy to take veggie capsule format.
Nordic Naturals – Ultimate Omega 2X Strawberry 1120 mg. – 60 Mini Softgel(s)What it is: The Omega 3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are essential fats that must be obtained through diet and/or supplementation, as humans cannot innately produce them. Omega 3’s come from a variety of sources, including the EPA/DHA fatty acids found in fish oil, and the plant-based omega 3’s (ALA) found in things like flax, chia, walnuts, and algae oil.
How it works: Providing a bevy of benefits, Omega 3’s help balance inflammation, maintain skin hydration, and protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. Research reviews in the journal Nutrients showcased that not only does EPA in particular have photoprotective properties, but Omega 3’s effects on inflammation may also impede the damage caused to skin cells and collagen fibers that lead to diminished skin tone, loss of moisture, and fine lines and wrinkles (4)!
Recommended product: Providing a high quality, sustainable fish oil sourced from species of fish that are naturally low in mercury, Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Mini’s come in a small-sized format that are easier to swallow compared to the large softgels commonly seen in fish oils. Bonus points for this one packing double the amount of EPA and DHA compared to other popular brands on the market.
Skin, Hair, & Nail Supplement
Pure Encapsulations – Hair/Skin/Nails Ultra BioCell Collagen – 60 CapsulesWhat it is: While you can take a variety of individual supplements, such as vitamin A, C, and E, skin, hair, and nail supplements contain blends of key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for maintaining the health of our outermost body’s.
How it works: Deficiencies in certain nutrients, including B vitamins, minerals such as zinc, selenium, and manganese, as well as a lack of essential fatty acids may all contribute to imbalances in skin cell growth and regeneration (5). By providing the body with the key nutrients that act as cofactors in the various processes that maintain skin health, in addition to antioxidants that quell the damaging effects caused by free radicals, a blended supplement will enable you to stick with one product, instead of having to take numerous pills each day.
Recommended product: Containing an array of highly absorbable nutrients, including the antioxidants Vitamin C and grape seed extract, silica to maintain skin elasticity and moisture, collagen to support skin structure, and a mineral blend to enhance energy levels needed to maintain skin regeneration, Pure Encapsulations Hair/Skin/Nails Ultra is a top-notch pick that is free of additives and perfect for adding to your daily skincare regimen.
MyChelle Dermaceuticals – Sun Protection Liquid Non Tinted Facial Sun Shield for All Skin Types 50 SPF – 1 fl. oz.What it is: Sunscreens are topical products that are specially formulated to protect the skin from the damaging rays of the sun. They come in two formats, chemical-based and mineral-based. Chemical sunscreens include synthetic ingredients such as avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, octinoxate, and oxybenzone, and organic sunscreens can either contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
How it works: Chemical sunscreens act as a chemical barrier, absorbing and converting the UVA and UVB rays from the sun into heat, which then evaporates from the skin’s surface. Mineral-based sunscreens have large mineral molecules that act as a physical barrier on the skin, deflecting the skin’s normal absorption of UVA and UVB rays (6).
Recommended product: Due to some of the concerns surrounding chemical sunscreens and their potential hormone-disrupting properties, we opt for non-nano particle mineral-based products. Providing broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays, Mychelle Dermaceuticals- Sun Protection Liquid Non-Tinted Facial Sun Shield For All Skin Types 50 SPF is a lightweight zinc-oxide based sunscreen that is free of parabens, phthalates, GMO’s, artificial ingredients, and is certified cruelty-free to boot!
Facial Cleansing Cream
Beauty Without Cruelty – Facial Cleansing Milk – Soap Free – 8.5 fl. oz.What it is: As the day progresses, the skin accumulates dirt and debris from environmental exposures, sweat, dead skin cells, makeup residues, etc. Cleansers come in a variety of forms, including bars, gels, creams, oils, and foams, and depending on their ingredients, may increase or decrease the naturally acidic pH of the skin’s surface.
How it works: Facial cleansers work to remove pollutants from the skin’s surface, which could otherwise lead to clogged pores, shift the skin’s pH balance, or impede proper skin cell regeneration. Alkaline soap-based cleansers work to make the skin debris water-soluble, allowing for it to be easily rinsed off. Unfortunately, such cleansers can create imbalances in the protective “acid-mantle” that maintains the proper ratios of bacteria and oil on the skin surface. When pH is shifted, skin-irritating bacteria can overgrow, and oil production may increase or decrease, leading to dry or overly-oily skin (7).
Recommended product: To avoid the pH-shifting effects of typical facial cleansers, we suggest soap-free Beauty Without Cruelty’s Facial Cleansing Milk, which contains a botanical infusion of soothing flower extracts, including chamomile, rose, and orange blossom. Its pH balancing oils, including jojoba and kuikui nut, won’t offset the skin’s acid mantle, and the oat protein and vitamin E it contains helps moisturize and nourish the skin.
Vitamin C Daily Moisturizer
DERMA-E – Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer – 2 fl. oz.What it is: A daily moisturizer is key for protecting the skin against the damaging effects of free radicals that it might be exposed to during the day, in addition to inhibiting moisture loss, and providing other nutrients to maintain the skin’s natural glow.
How it works: Free radicals that affect the skin can be sourced from the environment, including sun exposure and air pollution. Antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, help to neutralize free radicals before they can cause damage to skin cells. Additionally, vitamin C is also essential in the production of collagen, the primary protein that makes up the skin-matrix (8).
Recommended product: Derma-E’s Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer is swimming with beneficial ingredients, including a stabilized form of collagen-boosting and skin-protecting vitamin C. They then add in probiotics to maintain the array of beneficial bacteria that maintain skin pH, and finish it off with both rooibos and green tea extracts which further enhance the lightweight formulas antioxidant properties.
Mad Hippie – Vitamin A Serum – 30 ml.What it is: Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A, and include retinol, retinoic acid, and retinyl palmitate. Although retinoic acid is only available via prescription, the cells of the skin have the ability to convert other retinoids into retinoic acid through specific enzymes.
How it works: Retinoic acid has gentle skin exfoliating properties, helping to unclog pores and speeds up the process of cell turnover, which helps slough off dead skin cells to enhance one’s natural glow. Additionally, retinols have been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, fight topical skin inflammation, and support the production of collagen (9).
Recommended product: Retinol products should be used at night, as interactions with sunlight can lead to irritation. In addition, alternating application every other night when first starting use of a retinol product is also suggested to acclimate the skin and avoid any redness. We love Mad Hippie’s Vitamin A Serum as not only does it contain a clinically-proven retinoid shown to improve skin appearance in 28 days, but it also contains inflammation-soothing aloe vera and plant-based phytoceramides which maintain skin moisture levels.