Keeping skin healthy and youthful looking is the desire that’s launched thousands of skin and so-called beauty products. But if you really want skin to glow this summer and beyond, skip the chemical-laden, endocrine-disrupting lotions and potions and instead focus on putting nature’s bounty to work for you.
Eating fresh, wholesome foods will not only help you get the radiant skin you’re after this summer, but also provide many other health benefits—you’d be crazy not to indulge! All those nutrient-rich foods will help enhance your skin’s appearance, boost its wrinkle-fighting ability, and protect against skin cancer. Summer is coming—here’s how to get your skin ready for it now:
1. Be A Summertime Green Machine
The more fresh (preferably organic) leafy greens you can incorporate into meals, the more resilient your skin will be. Go heavy on nutrient-dense leafy greens because they’re loaded with antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which research indicates are beneficial not only for overall skin health but also for their protective effects against the sun’s damaging UV rays. Remember, however, that eating more anti-inflammatory greens supports skin health—it’s not a hall pass to roast yourself for hours in the sun without sunscreen.
So, how much leafy green goodness do you need? Just a 1 cup serving of spinach, Swiss chard, or kale a few times a week will do the trick. No veggie stand nearby? Then fill the antioxidant gap by adding a scoop of powdered greens to your morning smoothie or your water bottle to sip on throughout the day.
2. Feed Your Skin Good Fat
Another way to improve skin health and help make it more sunshine-ready is to ditch sugar and processed foods. Also, lighten up on coffee, which can leave skin looking dull and dehydrated. Instead, eat lots of fresh, whole produce to maximize nutrients at every meal—and be sure to make room for good fats.
A skin-savvy summer plate will include good fats to hydrate and nourish your skin (and the rest of you) with fatty acids, which help protect against sun damage and skin cancer. Delicious, skin-supporting options include:
- Avocados: A tasty, creamy, and rich source of healthy fatty acids.
- Chia Seeds: Tiny seeds, big benefits. Packed with inflammation-taming omega-3s, they help tame hunger, too.
- Coconut Oil: A spoonful in your morning smoothie adds medium-chain fatty acids and saturated fats to help fuel the formation of new skin and prevent sun damage.
- Olive Oil: A staple of the Mediterranean diet and a heart-healthy fat with anti-cancer effects.
- Fatty Fish: Wild salmon and sardines come complete with omega-3 fatty acids to help keep inflammation in check and protect skin from damage and skin cancer. Not a regular fish eater? You can still reap many of its benefits by supplementing with krill oil, which contains astaxanthin to support skin health and helps protect against the UV damage that leads to sagging and wrinkles.
3. Get Your Antioxidants On
To boost the health of your skin, look for foods that pack in the antioxidants, like carotenoids and catechins. To take advantage of as many of these health-enhancing, collagen-boosting, protective antioxidants as possible, “eat the rainbow.” Rich, green leafy veggies, deep purple, dark red, bright red, yellow, and orange veggies and fruits, raw or cooked—all should have a place in your skin-supportive menu. Among must-haves:
- Greens: Leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula, turnip greens, and collard greens, plus broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.
- Blue/Purple: Eggplant, purple asparagus, blackberries, black currants, blueberries, plums, etc.
- Red: Beets, red cabbage, red onions, tomatoes, pomegranates, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, etc.
- Orange/Yellow: Carrots, yellow onions, butternut squash, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apricots, peaches, etc.
4. Have A Tall Glass Of Iced Polyphenols
How to fit even more skin protection into those hot summer days? With polyphenol-rich green, white, black, or red teas, preferably organic. For thousands of years, tea has been known for its positive effects, due in part to the significant amount of antioxidant polyphenols found in every cup. More recently, studies have linked tea drinking to lower cancer rates and protection from premature skin aging, so drink up all summer long and beyond.
5. Get Smart About Your Sunscreen
Your body needs sunlight to thrive, but it also needs protection from UV rays. Short bouts of sun exposure are necessary for your body’s natural vitamin D production, but you don’t want to risk a sunburn either. How to do it safely? Click here for my timely tips on sensible sun exposure. After you’ve had your fill—about 15 minutes, a few times a week, before skin starts to turn pink—it’s sunscreen time. But not just any old sunscreen. With so many of them containing dangerous ingredients, I urge everyone to buy the best quality they can and shop according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Sunscreen database. Among its top-rated sunscreens based on safety is Protect All Over SPF 30 Sunscreen by Beauty Counter (a summertime favorite of mine), Protect All Over SPF 30 Sunscreen by Beauty Counter.
6. Boost Skin From Within—And Protect It Too
By eating antioxidant-rich produce and drinking antioxidant-rich teas throughout the season, you’ll be boosting summertime skin health as well as your skin’s ability to protect itself from sun damage. Add to that a well-chosen sunscreen that’s low in toxins, and you’re well on your way to healthier summer skin—inside and out. But don’t stop there. Consider adding even more skin support with my three favorite supplements for summer skin:
- Krill oil, which contains astaxanthin to support skin health and helps protect against sun damage.
- Alpha lipoic acid, the antioxidant that helps protect skin collagen and combats signs of cellular aging.
- Vitamin D3, to boost levels, protect against skin cancer, and help make your skin more prepared for sun exposure by producing melanin faster to better protect itself.
For more ideas on protecting your skin and on safer sun exposure, check out Sunny Side Up, my post on how to get a healthy glow.