Here’s the deal. There are some lucky people with flawless skin who, when asked what they do to keep it that way, will look at you with some confusion and answer, “nothing much, I just wash my face.”
For the rest of us, achieving healthy clear skin and maintaining it can be a continuous uphill battle. We spend hundreds of dollars on skincare over the years in pursuit of products that help us (quite literally) put our best face forward, and are willing to endure nightly 12-step regimes if it means clear and spotless skin.
But not all of us are so lucky. If you’ve spent lots of money on lotions, creams and cleansers for your skin but find your skin isn’t showing much improvement, an unexplored and unexpectedly big factor could be your diet.
There are plenty of foods in our consumer and convenience-driven world that are in fact terrible for our bodies and by extension, our skin. So if you’re really bent on making a change for the better, here are five things you need to eat in moderation, stat.
#1 Deep-fried food
Fried food is often laden with oxidised saturated fats, which are not good for you – unlike the “healthy” omega-3s and 6s. Saturated fats can also increase your risk of heart disease and affect your blood circulation, which in turn impedes your skin’s ability to receive the nutrients it really needs. What you should be eating more of is the good fatty acids found in foods like salmon!
#2 Too much coffee
Our skin depends a lot on hydration in order to stay supple and youthful. Caffeine is a diuretic (read: dehydrating) and also fairly acidic, which can affect the hormone and stress levels in your body, as well as your gastro health. When you’re more stressed, your skin is prone to producing more oil, which in turn ups the chances of clogged pores and pimples. If you tend to get hormonal acne when going through a stressful time, you’ll be familiar with this phenomenon.
When we consume sugar, the sugars go through a “glycation” process in our bodies, attaching themselves to proteins to form harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The proteins susceptible to damage by these AGEs are commonly collagen and elastin, resulting in the appearance of sagging skin or wrinkles over time. So really, spending thousands of dollars on anti-aging products won’t give you the results you want if your diet is high in sugar. Sugars are also found in lots of simple carbohydrates like white bread and biscuits, so watch the carbs you eat.
If you’ve ever taken a look at yourself in the mirror after a night of drinking and thought you looked like death, you’re not alone. Like coffee, alcohol dehydrates the body, but it also causes a flare-up of inflammation in your body, resulting in visible redness in your skin and broken blood vessels in the delicate undereye area. The dehydration alone is terrible for your skin, which is the largest organ you have, so if you’re having a cocktail or two, don’t forget to rehydrate with lots of plain water between drinks.
One of the main concerns about dairy, at least when it comes to our skin, is the high hormone content in cow milk. Cows are often pumped full of hormones to keep them producing milk all year round, and these hormones you inadvertently ingest from dairy products have in turn been linked to acne, excess estrogen and an increase of mucus in the body, which may have a hand in issues like inflammation and the proliferation of certain types of harmful bacteria. The solution? Opt for “milk” from other sources like soy and nuts, which are much better for you. They’ll take some getting used to and will cost a tiny bit more, but your skin will thank you.