Zits are just about everyone’s worst nightmare. Imagine you have an important interview coming up, and just as your head hits the pillow to get some sleep, you feel a small bump on your chin. First thing in the morning, you find a fresh yellow pimple has erupted overnight. Sure, you can try to hide it with concealer – and clog up your pores in the process – or you can learn about the best foods for skincare to stop this happening again.
Even in a world where we all wear masks most of the time, your face is still the first thing people are going to see. It really can make an impact on your self-esteem if you have skin that’s oily and speckled with zits – and I know just about better than anyone, having suffered from terrible acne as a teenager. But my road to a clearer complexion all started from one simple question…
What foods help clear acne?
The great thing about a clear-skin diet is that so many of the foods that clear up inflammation and encourage skin cell regeneration are ingredients you can put in just about anything. Carrots, tomatoes, red bell peppers, spinach, sunflower seeds: these are just some of the many fruits and vegetables that can give you a glowing complexion.
You can put sliced tomato in your sandwiches, bell peppers in your curries, spinach leaves in your pasta sauce, and you can nibble on a carrot as a snack. A wide variety of beans – such as butter beans or kidney beans – are another must for anyone working toward better skincare, thanks to their high fiber content. What’s fantastic about clear-skin foods is that they’re generally good for you, anyway, and they’re easy to find in any supermarket.
For your next grocery list, you’re going to want lots of fish – rich in omega-3, which has regenerative qualities that assist in skin cell regrowth – oats, antioxidant-laden berries, apricots, oranges, and other yellow fruits.
All of these items are easy to incorporate in your meals or to enjoy as a snack, whether you’re on the go, at work, or just relaxing on the couch at home.
Sugar causes inflammation
Just as important as what to eat is what not to eat, and sugar is one of the big no-no’s when it comes to spotless skin. As much as you may enjoy that tub of ice cream or a pack of cookies, your body won’t thank you for it. When you consume sugar, it causes an increase in insulin levels, which then leads to inflammation. This is a major factor in the formulation of acne, generating red flareups which lead to a breakout of zits.
When it comes to reducing upticks in insulin, you would do well to limit your consumption of pasta, sugar, white bread, and white rice.
What causes acne?
The key to overcoming any problem is by understanding its cause. Your skin is covered in pores, little holes that flow through to the oil-producing sebaceous glands that keep your skin healthy. The oil produced by these glands, known as sebum, is what removes dead skin cells and pushes them out through the pores.
Think of it as an organic waste management system, but these little holes in our skin can sometimes get clogged up and this is what causes blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. The pus that forms in our skin from these nasty whiteheads is the body’s reaction to the bacteria clogged in our pores, so the best way to keep skin clear is by practicing good hygiene.
Seek out natural sugars
So if you need something sweet, drop the candy bar and pick up some fruit. Natural sugars known as fructose are a more long-term form of energy release than the processed sugars in a block of chocolate – and a great place to start is the banana, which is loaded with fructose.
Another option is the pink lady apple, which is crisp, juicy, and gloriously sweet. Apple peel is also heaped with minerals and vitamins, as well as an antioxidant known as polyphenol which can help protect your skin from UV radiation while retaining skin elasticity to slow down the effects of ageing. Not only that, but apples are also a great source of vitamin C, which helps your skin glow more brightly.
How to keep your skin clean
Where possible, avoid touching your face. Your hands and fingers will pick up a lot of bacteria throughout the day, so you don’t want to be rubbing that into your skin as well. It’s also good practice to wash your face with warm water – no soap, just water – before you go to sleep, as a lot of dirt and oil can be soaked into your pillow slips. On that note, you should also flip your pillows over every few nights to prevent excess build-up of dead skin cells or bacteria.
Now, as much as it may be tempting to think that exfoliating facial cleansers will solve all your skincare problems, bear in mind they should be used sparingly. Your skin naturally produces oil to protect your cells and keep them moisturized, so that oil is there for a reason. It’s good practice to use a facial cleanser every five days, so it can clean out the week’s dirt and oil that will have gotten trapped in your pores.
The key to clear skin, then, is not just a good diet but good hygiene as well. Reduce your intake of processed sugars, increase your consumption of fresh fruit and veg, and in a short span of time your skin will be clearer, healthier, and glowing as brightly as your self-esteem.