As she walks into the room, you focus on her sleeveless gauzy dress that accentuates her toned arms and defined physique. You notice her radiant smile. Most of all, you want to ask her how she got such glowing, healthy skin.
Summer doesn't allow much room for concealment. Whereas during colder weather you can hide behind baggy sweaters and loose-fit pants, sweltering July days practically demand exposed skin and form-fitting attire.
Likewise, many women forego makeup for that sexy au naturel look. Unfortunately, too many late-night barbecues and hours lazily basking in the sun can leave your skin looking haggard, tired, and flaky.
Glowing summer skin starts not from exorbitant department-store creams but from what you eat. Beauty comes from within, and the best dermatologist and cleansers can't rescue a bad diet's effects on your skin.
These five strategies can boost your complexion for younger, healthier, vibrant skin that turns heads during any season.
1. Make an oil change.According to Dr. Mark Hyman, vegetable oils and processed foods are loaded with inflammatory fats that flatter neither your waistline nor your complexion. Among the signs you're not getting enough high-quality oils and fats include dry, itchy, scaling, or flaking skin. Dump inferior oils for extra virgin olive oil (drizzling on salads), olive oil (sautéing), and coconut or red palm oil (high-heat cooking). Avocado, olives, and coconut milk also provide good fat for glowing skin. Raw nuts and nut butters make healthy snacks rich in good fat. And a study in the Journal of Lipid Research found the omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in wild-caught fish and fish oil could help prevent skin aging.
2. Eat from the rainbow. "Most of what we consider 'aging' skin is really the accumulation of oxidative (free radical) damage," says Dr. Jonny Bowden in his book The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer. A variety of fruits and vegetables provide valuable nutrients and antioxidants to fight free-radical damage and support healthy skin. As you get older, your collagen breaks down, leading to wrinkles. Since your body requires vitamin C to synthesize collagen, you'll want to get optimal amounts from fruits and vegetables like broccoli and berries. You've probably heard about resveratrol in grapes, blueberries, and yes, red wine. A study in the journal PLoS One found this anti-aging compound could prevent age-related skin disorders.
3. Opt for low-sugar impact foods. You know sugar isn't doing you any favors, and that especially proves true with your skin. Sugar attaches to the protein collagen in a process called glycosylation or glycation. "Glycation is what happens when sugar molecules glom onto protein molecules," says Bowden. "These sticky proteins gum up the works like cotton candy, and eventually creates AGEs (advanced glycation end products)." One study in the journal Experimental Gerentology found that skin AGEs accumulation contributes to the loss of skin elasticity.
4. Eat protein for healthy collagen. High-quality protein like wild-caught salmon and grass-fed beef offer optimal amounts of collagen-building amino acids like lysine and proline. Animal protein also contains zinc. A study in the International Journal of Dermatology found this mineral provides excellent antioxidant protection for healthy skin. Start your morning with a protein-rich shake that combines non-soy, non-dairy protein powder, unsweetened coconut milk, berries, kale, and flax or chia seeds for a fast, filling, fat-burning breakfast that's also fabulous for your skin.
5. Hydrate. Once you realize you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated, which takes its toll on your skin. Always keep a canteen filled with filtered water nearby to quench your thirst and hydrate your cells so nutrients stay in and toxins get out. Proper hydration means you sweat more efficiently to keep your skin glowing and looking fabulous. A study in the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration showed that about two cups of water every day improved blood flow to your skin. Aim for about half your body weight in filtered-water ounces, starting with a big glass first thing in the morning. The only time you shouldn't drink is during meals, when too much liquid can dilute stomach enzymes that break down protein.
What strategies would you add to this list for glowing, vibrant skin no matter what the season?
Jonny Bowden, The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer (Massachusetts: Fair Winds, 2010).