Skin is often described in food terms, though obviously it’s preferable for your complexion to be compared to peaches and cream, not pepperoni pizza. But if you spent your teen years shunning chocolate bars and greasy fries, you were wasting your time — they don’t cause acne. (Neither do sex or masturbation, in case you were worried.) Your diet does play a major role in determining how your skin looks, though, so it’s important to focus on what you should eat.
Celebrity dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban, who treated patients on ABC’s Extreme Makeover, gives us the lowdown on face-friendly foods. Shamban’s new book, Heal Your Skin, offers tips on how diet an exercise can improve your epidermis, and she says you should focus on these three categories of face-friendly foods:
1. Omega-3 (Essential Fatty Acids): This includes tuna, salmon, nuts, seeds, and their oils, like ground flaxseeds. Foods rich in Omega-3s can also lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of disorders like diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers.
2. Antioxidants: Load up on berries, grapes, broccoli, peppers, spinach, and sweet potato. Research shows that antioxidants can also help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
3. Vitamins A, B, C, E: Focus on avocados, red meat, oil, fish, eggs, papaya and kiwi. These are among the 13 vitamins your body needs anyway, so you could develop deficiency disease if you’re not getting enough.
“Those foods help reduce inflammation in our body, fight free radicals, help in formation of new cells, and are essential for the production of collagen,” says Shamban, who is also an assistant professor of clinical dermatology at UCLA.
Certain foods can also protect your skin from sun damage, so since summer is almost here, Shamban suggests eating “food rich in lycopene like pink grapefruit, tomatoes, watermelon, red bell pepper.” In addition, she says, “Vitamin C is known to prevent photodamage.” So, Shamban says you should look for foods like berries, peaches, kiwi, mangoes.
Aside from just eating the right foods, you can also put fresh ingredients directly on your face like in Shamban's mask for clear skin below:
Strawberry Clear Face Mask
If you have a lot of inflammation, you can substitute peeled and crushed tomatoes for the strawberries.
Combine all ingredients into a paste. Apply to clean skin and leave on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off mask and follow with hydrating gel if needed.