The Foods Your Skin Needs

Everyone has heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” And while it might not always prove true (who wants to be referred to as “cheap and easy?”), skincare experts have readily acknowledged the effect diet has on the complexion. “Your skin is an organ, just like your stomach or your liver,” said Robin Tritto, owner of Skincare by Robin and a New York State Board licensed esthetician with more than 25 years experience. “Whatever you put on top gets absorbed by your pores, and whatever you put inside gets absorbed as well. It’s going to translate somehow to what the skin is doing.”

Michelle Kelly, another licensed esthetician and community health educator, is also the owner of La Piele Private Boutique Spa in Huntington. She echoed Tritto about the connection between what we eat and our skin. “Community health is the study of chronic and communicable diseases, and it quickly became clear to me that lack of nutrients is one thing that can make the body not work properly,” Kelly said. “It has to be an inside-out and outside-in approach. If you’re missing one component, you’re not going to have the best skincare. It’s amazing how quickly the skin responds once you start nourishing the body.”

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Eat Your Way To Glowing Skin

Even if an expert is the best source for what to put on your skin, the secret to establishing a glowing complexion from within can be found at the nearest grocery store. Just keep in mind no solution is one-size-fits-all. “Treating the skin is like piecing together a puzzle…” Tritto said. “There are no cookie cutter treatments.” For those interested in looking and feeling better, Kelly and Tritto offered their recommendations for savory solutions to some of the toughest skin issues.

“People tend to feel that when their skin is dry, it means it’s dehydrated,” Tritto said. “So they drink a lot of water, but what they should be doing is juicing with spinach, carrot and apple. Those nutrients stick with you and help lubricate the skin.” She also recommended incorporating omega-3s into the diet with fatty fish like salmon or sardines, and foods rich in beta-carotene, like green vegetables and carrots. The omega-3 oils help to prevent dehydration and nourish skin from the inside out. The body turns antioxidant beta-carotene into vitamin A, a crucial building block for healthy skin.

Redness is not a Bed of Roses
The cause of redness isn’t always something that can be helped, according to Kelly. Genetics and fair or sensitive skin can all be precursors to unwanted rosiness. But diet can also play a role. “What will exacerbate your capillaries are vasodilators, or inflammation triggers, which overwork your circulation in your capillaries and cause you to look flushed.” Kelly recommended avoiding these triggers, which can include stress, alcohol, sun and spicy foods. “Foods high in antioxidants, like greens, turmeric and organic fruits and vegetables will cause less inflammation because you’re not dealing with toxins that the body has to work harder to remove,” she said.

Acne is not Better with Age
In addition to topical care, subtle changes to nutrition can have a positive effect on acne treatment. “I advise against foods with a lot of sugar and acid in them,” Tritto said. She has seen orange juice, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and eggplant all have negative effects. Kelly suggested avoiding stimulants like caffeine, sugar, processed foods and white potatoes, bread and rice to fight the inflammation.

Skin starts to look aged as it loses its elasticity, Kelly recommended skipping processed foods that kick-start glycation, or the process of food turning into sugar in the body. “Superfoods like maca powder, chia seeds, wheat grass, spirulina and organic fruits and vegetables will increase the antioxidants in your body and fight free radicals that speed up aging.”

In all cases though, better skin isn’t necessarily the next meal away. “Patience, diligence, and consistency are the three things I teach,” Kelly said. “You can’t change your habits overnight and see changes immediately—it needs to be a lifestyle. What you eat is a reflection of what shows up on the outside.”

justine lorelle lomonaco

Born in California and raised in the Midwest, Justine Lorelle LoMonaco spent the last four years indulging her East Coast side on Long Island and in NYC. She has contributed to a variety of lifestyle magazines and websites and maintains a blog, In her spare time, she loves reading, running and eating in her Astoria neighborhood.