Cleansers, toners, scrubs, moisturisers, peels, masks…our bathroom cupboards are filled with things we apply to our skin. But what we often neglect are the internal aspects of skincare. There’s lots that can be done from the inside that will leave you with clear, glowing skin.
From a traditional naturopathic perspective, the skin is an organ of elimination. It’s a ‘last ditch attempt’ organ of elimination at that. With an overburdened liver and poor hydration, toxins sit under the skin in the lymphatic tissues, one of our internal plumbing systems, instead of being effectively metabolised in the liver and removed via the kidneys and gut. The body, in a desperate attempt to clear them out, forces them out through the skin.
So boost your hydration to two to three litres of filtered water every day. Add an extra 700mL for every hour of intense exercise performed or coffee consumed. Herbal teas that contain nettle, burdock and calendula can help shift fluid in the lymphatic tissues towards the liver and a little dandelion root will help the liver process it.
You want to make sure that you’re feeding your skin too, so that it has everything it needs to produce healthy new skin cells. Make sure you’re getting adequate levels of:
The ‘C’ here should stand for collagen, because that’s what it does. Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that improves skin integrity and elasticity. It’s also a great antioxidant. Boost your intake of broccoli, kiwifruit and strawberries. Otherwise, add some rosehip to the teas mentioned above.
Zinc is another important nutrient for skin health, and you can get it from meats, nuts, and seeds. A friend of mine (who also happens to be an unreal naturopath) showed me a mixture of liquid zinc and licorice that works a treat for hormonal acne. This is because licorice (the herb, not the sugary sweet!) lowers the androgen hormones associated with acne.
Decreasing inflammation is always a good idea, but with skin health it’s particularly important. If you suffer from skin conditions like eczema make sure you eat a few serves of fish each week. If you’re a vegetarian try a tablespoon of chia oil (not the whole seed – it’s too hard for the body to extract the oil from inside the husk) each day. Trust me, it will work wonders!
So dose up on these skin-loving nutrients, keep hydrated, and consider some herbal medicine in the form of a tea, two or three times a day. You’ll get much better results if you work on your skin from the inside as well as the outside.