It’s 2017 and orange skin is in, but if you’re a traditionalist and would rather be more of a golden bronze, then you’re in luck — you might not even need to leave your house.
The ultraviolet radiation from the sun or a tanning bed produces genetic mutations that raise the risk of developing skin cancer, and UV has been labeled as a human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, so any way you can work on your tan without cooking under the sun will save your skin in the long run. Fortunately, some of your favorite fruits and vegetables allow you to do just that.
Skin tone can change in just six weeks after an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, according to researchers in Scotland examining the link between eating habits and skin color. The study showed that a change in skin tone was more common amongst participants consuming one to three servings of whole fruits and vegetables each day. The researchers discovered that foods with high concentrations of two particular natural pigments — beta-carotene, which gives carrots and sweet potatoes their orange hue, and lycopene, which makes tomatoes a vibrant red — were more likely to produce a pronounced shift in skin tone.
Skin superfoods do exist, and they can be found in a grocery store near you. Carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupes all contain carotene, and consuming regular quantities of these vegetables can create a natural tan, notes Dr. Susan Stuart, a board-certified dermatologist in San Diego. But not everyone’s skin is equally affected by carotene, and neither a specified quantity nor a precise timeframe for eating carotene-rich foods exists. That being said, Dr. Stuart’s diet for super skin includes eating carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and olive oil — foods that will not only give your skin a healthy glow, but can also trim a few inches off the waistline.