Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and is a true reflection of how healthy your body currently is. This means that any skin conditions that you experience could actually be a symptom of something else that is going on within your body.
Rather than simply treating specific symptoms with harsh, chemical-laden products, a holistic approach to skin care addresses any underlying root problems, treating your skin, as well as your body, from the inside out.
While a holistic skin care approach may not offer the same quick fix that modern skin care provides, it will not only benefit your complexion in the long run, but will also give your overall health a huge boost.
Here are a few steps that you can take to care for your skin in a more holistic way…
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
When trying to think and live more holistically, you need to pay attention to the ingredients that you put into your body. By eating a healthy diet that is filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats, your skin will directly benefit, and it will not take long until you notice the improvements.
So, what exactly should you be eating?
At least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day, preferably ones of different colors.
Wondering why this matters?
Because different colored vegetables and fruits contain different antioxidants. For example, red vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, contain beta-carotene, while leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain lutein. Both of these are key antioxidants when it comes to skin health.
Another important element to your diet should be healthy fats, which work as an internal moisturizer for your skin. From oily fish to avocados to nuts, there are so many sources of essential fatty acids out there. Many of these also contain high amounts of vitamin E, which is another vital vitamin for the skin.
Do not forget about omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as both of these are essential, but your body is not able to produce them itself. These can be found in oily fish, as well as chia seeds, walnuts, linseeds and more. This is especially important for those who are suffering from inflammatory skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema.
Different foods can benefit your skin in different ways, so, if you suffer from a particular skin condition, it would be worth researching which foods you should be eating more of. For example, those suffering from hormonal acne should try eating more soya bean products, as these contain phyto-estrogens, which have a similar structure to oestrogen in the female body and help to prevent hormonal fluctuations.
Have you ever wondered about taking oral supplements for your skin?
This would definitely fall under the holistic approach, as you would be treating your skin from within.
Here are a few supplements to consider:
- Probiotics – these help to balance the good and bad bacteria in your gut, resulting in happy and healthy skin
- Fish oil – contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) – another source of essential omegas
It helps to plan your diet and supplements ahead, so you won’t miss out on essential nutrients. Try making a weekly food plan that you can follow loosely. This way, you won’t have to worry about what best to eat when you’re rushing out the door.
There are many who claim that staying internally hydrated makes no difference to your skin’s health and appearance, but this is not true…
Just like every other part of your body, your skin is made up of cells, and these cells consist primarily of water. Without enough water, the cells within your body will not be able to function to their full potential.
How does this manifest in your skin?
Through dry skin, which will feel quite tight and flaky.
Your body loses large amounts of water each day, and you need to be replacing this. Sadly, because your skin is on the outside of your body, water will travel to all of your other organs before it reaches your skin. This means that you really need to be drinking the maximum amount of water each day in order for your skin cells to really stay hydrated.
How much do you need to be drinking?
Avoid Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits
Unhealthy lifestyle habits are not only bad for your skin, but also your general health.
Do you smoke?
If so, you are likely aware of what this is doing to the inside of your body, but did you know that smoking is one of the worst habits that you could have for your skin?
Smoking basically suffocates the tissues within your skin, by preventing oxygen from reaching them. This leads to everything from damaged capillaries to an increase in free radicals, resulting in a wrinkled and sallow complexion.
Drinking too much alcohol can also have a severely detrimental effect on your skin. While you do not need to give this up completely, you should still strictly moderate your alcohol intake.
When you do decide to indulge in a drink, here are a few tips to ensure that you cause as little damage to your skin as possible:
- Clear spirits on the rocks are the best option, as these will not have sugar, salt or anything else added to them
- Red wine actually contains high levels of antioxidants, and can be good for you when consumed in moderation
- Drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink to dilute the amount of alcohol in your body
You probably already know that regular exercise is essential in order to maintain your physical and mental health, but did you know that regular exercise directly benefits the skin too?
New research backs this up in a big way, showing that exercise can boost a person’s skin no matter what age they may be.
To begin with, exercise can really help with acne.
It helps to bring toxins to the surface of your skin, preventing them from causing breakouts, so long as you wash them away as soon as you are done working out. Exercise also triggers the body to produce endorphins, which help to decrease the level of cortisol, the stress hormone that can often trigger acne, in your body.
Here are a few of the other ways in which regular exercise will benefit your skin:
- Causes blood vessels to dilate, resulting in a vibrant, energized appearance
- Stimulates the body to produce more collagen, which is one of the main structural proteins in your skin
- Encourages the body to sleep better at night, which is the time during which your skin repairs itself
- Exercising outdoors puts you in the fresh air, boosting your endorphins even more
Quality Sleep Each Night
While you may think that your whole body is resting while you are asleep, this is not at all true…
As mentioned above, the time during which you are asleep is when your skin cells repair and regenerate, and often do this up to three times faster than they do during the day.
It begins at around 9pm, when you start to get sleepy…
Your skin does wind down a little at this time too, making the time between 9pm and 11pm the hours when your skin is best able to absorb topical products.
Once you go to sleep, your body releases a hormone called HGH, otherwise known as the human growth hormone.
What does this do?
HGH is responsible for speeding up the rate at which your skin cells repair themselves, with cell production doubling, or even tripling, depending on your quality of sleep.
You likely already know whether or not you are getting quality sleep each night, by how tired you are during the day.
If you know you are not sleeping well enough, you need to do something to fix this.
Wondering what you can do?
Here are a few tips:
- Create a calming bedtime routine, with everything from a hot bath and some chamomile tea to soft music and aromatherapy
- Remove any electronic devices from your bedroom, as these emit a blue light that suppresses the melatonin in your body, which is responsible for helping you get to sleep
- Try breathing exercises to help relax your body and induce sleep
Each time you feel stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, and this can severely affect the skin in a few different ways:
- Causes glycation, which damages the collagen in your skin, resulting in wrinkles and fine lines
- Causes dry skin by decreasing the skin’s production of hyaluronic acid and by damaging the skin’s natural protective barrier
- Causes adrenaline to be produced, which decreases blood flow to the skin, robbing skin cells of essential nutrients
- Prevents quality sleep, meaning skin cells cannot properly regenerate
So, what can you do about this?
There are so many ways in which you can reduce stress in your life. Give a few of these methods a try:
- Breathing exercises and meditation
- Physical activity
- Socializing with friends and family
- Having some “me time”
- Writing your thoughts down in a journal
- Listen to music
- Get a massage
- Spend time with animals
- Spend time in nature
- Do something creative, such as cooking or make some art
There are so many other things that could be added to that list, but, as you can see, there are many ways in which you can tackle stress. Rather than letting it fester in your body and continue causing damage to your skin, and so much more, take proactive steps to reduce your stress, and therefore minimize the cortisol in your body.
A Healthy Sex Life
Sex is a natural part of life, and actually brings with it quite a few health benefits, many of which are related to the skin.
Here are a few of the ways in which a healthy sex life could help your complexion:
- Improves blood circulation, meaning that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the skin
- Reduces cortisol levels in the body
- Triggers HGH, the human growth hormone, which boosts skin elasticity
- Improves the skin’s ability to absorb and make use of nutrients
- Encourages quality sleep thanks to the oxytocin that floods the brain, therefore helping to boost skin health
Make Holistic Choices With Your Cosmetics
There are so many skin and beauty products out there that are laden with harmful chemicals, and these are not something that you want on your skin and in your body when trying to care for your skin more holistically.
There are many ingredients out there, from parabens to fragrances, that will do nothing but damage your skin. Take a look at the ingredients lists on the products that you already own, and decide whether or not they are actually benefiting your skin.
You may be tempted to only opt for completely natural skin care products, but this would not be a good move.
In an ideal world, you would only be applying the freshest, most natural ingredients to your skin. But, when purchasing skin care products, formulas vary hugely from brand to brand, and just because a product contains natural ingredients does not mean that it will be effective.
Synthetic ingredients are also not always bad. Skin care companies spend years researching into new ingredients, many of which are ones that you would not be able to have access to on your own.
Try to aim for products that are as natural as possible, but do keep your own skin’s needs in mind. For example, if tea tree oil does not seem to be helping your acne, do not be afraid to move on to something stronger.
As you can see, a holistic approach to skin care encompasses every single aspect of your life. By following all of the tips mentioned above, you will be boosting your skin in so many different ways, and will no doubt notice an improved complexion in no time at all.