I can spot a smoker or a sunbather really fast because they look older than they should from the free radical damage. Maybe you thought beauty is only skin deep, but it’s not. A radiant youthful-looking face is actually an inside job. It helps to drink fresh water, exercise regularly and eat healthy foods to get the nutrients which provide the building blocks of healthy skin. Your gut and liver enzymes (glutathione and catalase) must remove toxins and free radicals every second of the day otherwise the junk inside your cell damages your skin.
I’ve tried various supplements over the years (on and off) to keep my skin looking as good as it can. At 52, some level of aging is inevitable but it’s amazing what your face can look like if you neutralize free radicals before they age you and use high-quality skin care products. Here are some of my favorite skin-loving herbs and nutrients:
- Milk thistle. It’s a food, but also a supplement. Your liver processes everything that goes in your mouth, including alcohol, prescription medications, pesticides, preservatives, additives and artificial colors. Your liver detoxifies everything your body doesn’t need. This reminds me of that episode on “I Love Lucy” where she’s struggling to keep up with the conveyor belt of chocolates coming down the line! When your liver falls behind on its job, poisons come out through your skin causing rashes, and itchiness. You’ll age faster. Avoid milk thistle if you’re allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds or daisies.
- Collagen. Collagen is a natural component of skin that declines as you age, resulting in thinner, less elastic, more saggy skin. Two 2014 studies found that oral supplementation with this may improve skin elasticity and diminish wrinkles.
- Silica. This makes hot springs pretty and blue in color. Silica is a trace mineral that helps soothe psoriasis, eczema and rashes when applied topically. Taken internally, silica helps you make collagen naturally, strengthening your nails.
- Vitamin E. You may think of rubbing vitamin E oil directly on your skin to prevent scars, but taken orally, vitamin E is a powerful cellular antioxidant, which means it gobbles up free radicals that could otherwise potentially damage your skin cells and lead to premature aging.
- Zinc. It’s not just for your prostate, or for colds! This mineral reduces skin inflammation and irritation, whether that’s associated with acne, pimples, or rashes. It also plays a role in managing the production and turnover of skin cells. When I worked in nursing homes with residents who had painful diabetes-related wounds, or decubitis ulcers, we always put them on zinc and vitamin C. Be careful with zinc, don’t take too much. In fact avoid it if you take ginkgo biloba, ibuprofen or warfarin because it slightly increases risk of bleeding. If you’d like to read the longer version of this article, it’s available at my website, suzycohen.com Please make sure to ask your doctor if these supplements are right for you.