Nurturing A Beautiful Skin

Beauty is really from the inside out. You know that you need to nourish your skin to keep it as healthy as possible. But are you getting enough of the right nutrients from the foods you eat? Could you benefit from taking a supplement or trying an antioxidant-packed lotion? Well why not.

“The beauty of the skin is that you can affect it from both inside and out,” says Doris Day, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine and author of Forget the Facelift: Turn Back the Clock with a Revolutionary Programme for Ageless Skin.

Dermatologists suggest nutrients they think are essential for a healthy complexion. Here are their tips on how to include them in your diet and skin care routine.

Choose foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids
Eating a healthy diet loaded with fruits, and vegetables rich in antioxidants are good for your whole body, including your skin. Antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and A, and beta-carotene can help reduce the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. These molecules can injure skin cells and cause signs of aging.

One of the best ways to increase your antioxidant intake, say dermatologists, is to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. “I recommend going for as much variety and colour as possible in your diet,” Day tells WebMD. “Try snacking on blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, kale, spinach, and different kinds of peppers.” Day also suggests adding a little tomato paste, which contains an antioxidant called lycopene, to stir-fried vegetables, brown rice, or quinoa.

It's also a good idea to stock your grocery cart with foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, including wild salmon, sardines, fortified eggs, and walnuts. “Omega-3 fatty acids help keep the top, outer layer of the skin strong and intact so that external toxins and pollutants are kept out,” says David E. Bank, MD, director of the Centre for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University/New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Look for skin care products that contain retinoids
The vitamin A derivatives known as retinoids “promote more normal skin cell turnover on a molecular level,” says Day. “They can make your skin look smoother and more even in tone, and help with fine lines, wrinkles, and acne.” You can find retinoids in many skin care products, including creams, serums, and gels. Some, such as Retin-A and Renova, are only available by prescription.

The retinoid used in over-the-counter products is called retinol.Since retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, Day recommends applying them at night. Avoid using retinoids if you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. They may increase the risk of birth defects.

Other ingredients to look for in skin care products, says Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Miami and director of ethnic skin care at the University of Miami, are antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, extracts of green tea, and coenzyme Q10.

Find out if you could benefit from a supplement
The ideal way to get the nutrients you need for a radiant complexion is by eating a healthy, balanced diet. But Bank suggests taking an over-the-counter daily multi-vitamin with minerals to boost your nutrient intake if you're not eating a balanced diet, you spend a lot of time outdoors, or you're exposed to high levels of air pollution and secondhand smoke.

Pay attention to the overall health of your skin
In addition to focusing on getting the right nutrients, Woolery-Lloyd says you can help keep your skin healthy by not smoking, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and drinking lots of water. To protect your skin from sunburn, skin cancer, and early signs of aging, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day, all year-round.

Apply a nickel-sized dollop of sunscreen to cover your face, says Woolery-Lloyd. If you're spending most of the day outdoors, re-apply your sunscreen about every two hours and wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Lastly, remember that when you start making changes to your diet, lifestyle, or skin care routine, you shouldn't expect to see changes overnight. “The key is to be patient. It may take three months to a year to really see an improvement in your skin,” says Bank. “Go with what's tried and true, and give it a solid chance to work.”

By Blessing Ukemena, with additional reports from WebMD. com