We all want to put our best face forward. But sometimes, we fall victim to dull, dry skin. Whether you’re sleep deprived, have a slip-up in your diet, or are using the wrong skincare regimen, your face will reveal a lot about your health and well-being.
Have no fear—glowing skin is within reach. Here are five ways to brighten your complexion.
We’ve all been told to get our beauty sleep—and with good reason. Research shows that poor sleep quality can accelerate signs of skin aging and weaken the skin’s ability to repair itself at night (1). In addition, reduced sleep quality is associated with hormonal imbalances (2), which can cause adverse health effects.
“Certain skin problems, such as acne, are due to hormonal imbalances, which
may be due to stress or a lack of sleep,” says Ysabel Montemayor, registered dietitian at Fresh n’ Lean, an organic meal delivery service. “Getting around seven to nine hours of sleep each night can help keep the body’s hormones in balance and maintain the
While there is a lack of evidence to support the notion that drinking more water can improve your skin’s appearance, it may improve skin hydration in healthy humans (3).
“Water intake alone won’t cure dry skin, but it is an important factor,” says Susannah Courteau, advanced practice esthetician and skin health consultant with BREVENA Laboratories in White Bear Township, Minnesota.
Dr. Alain Michon, medical director at Ottawa Skin Clinic in Ontario, Canada, suggests reducing and replacing alcohol intake with water to maintain a healthy glow. “Alcohol is extremely dehydrating, which can leave your skin feeling dry and looking tired over time,” he says. “Replacing alcoholic drinks with water will keep your body’s moisture levels high, and your face glowing.”
Our skin requires adequate nutrition to function normally. Any dietary imbalance, such as deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, can disturb the skin’s equilibrium (4).
“Many nutrients play roles in maintaining skin integrity, so it is important to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains/legumes, nuts, lean protein, and healthy fats,” Montemayor says.
Excessive inflammation of the skin increases your requirements of specific nutrients, such as folic acid and protein (5). “Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of our body, and helps maintain the body’s tissues, such as muscles, tendons, skin, hair, and nails,” Montemayor says.
Many dermatologic problems stem from an underlying inflammation of the skin, explains Dr. Alvin Berger, adjunct professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota and CEO of SciaEssentials. “Inflamed skin is red, itchy, acneic, blemished, wrinkled, aged, not puffed, irritable, and definitely not glowing,” Berger says. “Thus, if one wants glowing skin, the underlying inflammation must be considered and ameliorated.”
Other nutrients that are important for skin health include vitamins A, B, C and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, Michon says. “Incorporating fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins E, C, A, and B into your diet prevent inflammation in the skin. Next time you’re whipping up a meal, opt-in for salmon, avocados, broccoli, or sweet potatoes to maintain that healthy glow.”
Collagen is a major structural protein of the body that helps our skin and connective tissues withstand stretching (6). Of the different types of collagen, types I, II, and III are the most abundant. Types I and III are typically associated with hair, skin, and nail health, while type II is most often tied to joint and cartilage health.
“As we age, collagen production slows down, which can lead to a loss of elasticity in the skin, weaker bones, achy joints, and brittle hair,” says Dr. Jeremy Wolf, a naturopathic doctor and lead health adviser at LuckyVitamin.
Some studies show that collagen supplementation may help improve the skin’s hydration, elasticity, and appearance of wrinkles (7). Collagen powders, such as Tonic Products’ Beauty Tonic, can be mixed directly into your favorite beverage to replenish your body’s collagen to prevent and reverse the formation of wrinkles, cellulite, and stretch marks.
“Protected collagen peptides taken orally can improve skin hydration and collagen density, and improve antioxidant status,” Berger says.
GENTLY CLEANSE AND EXFOLIATE
Regular cleansing and exfoliation of the skin can help you achieve a healthy glow. Look for a gentle cleanser (such as a milky, creamy, or oil cleanser) that will purify your skin without stripping it, Courteau, advises. Using the wrong cleanser can harm your skin and lead to inflammation, she warns. “Many cleansers are simply too aggressive and strip skin of its natural protective barrier, leaving your face tight and dry,” Courteau says. “‘Squeaky clean’ should only refer to your kitchen floor, not your face.”
Exfoliation should be a regular part of your skincare routine, according to our experts. “Exfoliation not only removes any old, dry and damaged skin, but it allows for new plump skin cells to form, resulting in a brighter complexion,” Michon says.
For best results, exfoliate at least once or twice a week with a physical or chemical exfoliant, recommends Lila Castellanos, licensed esthetician and owner of Doll Face Skincare Studio in Los Angeles, California. “Exfoliate your skin to remove the layers of dead skin using a physical exfoliant,” she says. Or try a chemical exfoliant, “which will penetrate slightly below the skin’s surface. It leaves your skin instantly smoother and brighter.”