Let’s face it, dry skin can be very frustrating. If you have it, then you know all about how much it flakes and itches, not to mention how it can redden your skin or make it feel rough. Adding to the frustration is the fact that even when you buy all kinds of moisturizing creams and shower washes designed to restore your skin’s health, you often still feel like human sandpaper.
There are tons of reasons for dry skin, including poor air circulation, taking certain medications, a change in the seasons and, yes, even your genes. While it might sound like you can’t escape a life of annoying skin issues, the truth is that you can improve your skin—and it’s easier than you think, because the answers are right in your kitchen.
By turning to certain foods, you can get your skin back on track in no time. California dermatologist Cynthia Baily explains that eating healthy foods is the ideal way to keep skin in shape, giving rise to the common “you are what you eat” statement. Additionally, there’s something to be said for topically applying certain foods to your skin.
Here’s a look at seven foods (and some drinks) that can help to tackle your dry skin.
1. Citrus fruits
Studies have found that citrus fruits are particularly good at combatting dry skin. Thanks to their ability to produce collagen—which is responsible for skin’s plumpness—experts suggest turning to such fruits to create suppler skin. You can even make fresh fruit juices from citrus fruits, if you prefer. However, be aware of any medications you’re taking, as some citrus fruits may produce negative side effects; check with your doctor if you’re unsure.
2. Leafy, green vegetables
It’s time to put aside the jokes about people crinkling their nose in reaction to the Brussels sprouts on their plate—green, leafy vegetables have the ability to improve dry skin. Experts agree that the likes of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage all contain beneficial chemicals that fight the damaging effects often brought about by environmental factors, which can result in dry skin. In turn, skin condition improves, and premature aging is even thwarted.
3. Foods with lipoic acid
According to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology a few years back, lipoic acid has the ability to help heal dry skin—especially if your dermatological concerns are caused by too much sun exposure. So, how do you get some of this lipoic acid yourself? It exists in a range of foods from tomatoes and poultry to calf liver and—no surprise here—leafy green vegetables.
Sure, oatmeal is healthy to eat, but it’s also good to put on your skin. Create a concoction of raw oatmeal, sugar and coconut oil, and use it as a gentle exfoliant when you shower. As you experiment over time, you’ll figure out the ratios of each that best improve your unique skin (so you can make a mixture that suits your needs).
5. Coconut oil
I’m a huge coconut oil fan, often enjoying it with my morning oatmeal or putting it in smoothies. But it has another benefit, in that it does a fantastic job treating dry skin. Without fail, the center part of my forehead between my eyebrows and the tip of my nose (part of the classic T-zone on the face) often become dry, especially in the colder months.
I live in New Hampshire, where I’m often running the wood stove. Between the colder outside air in the fall and winter and the drier indoor air, my face is often met with contrasting conditions. The result is dry, rough skin on my face. But coconut oil always helps; just a small amount applied to problem areas greatly reduces dryness.
6. Fiber-rich foods
Consuming foods with a high fiber content is good for your health anyway, but experts say it’s also great for skin because it helps to remove toxins from your body. Smog, smoke and stress can all result in a buildup of harmful chemicals in your body, and your skin often reveals this fact. Therefore, you should eat more fiber-rich foods, such as raspberries, bananas, pears, brown rice and split peas.
Last but definitely not least, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. It’s not that the act of consuming water instantly makes your skin soft, but rather the fact that having more of it keeps your entire body hydrated. When you drink water, you’re keeping your entire system in check, which helps foster optimal cell growth, blood flow and weight maintenance, and flushes out accumulated toxins. All of this contributes to better skin; by keeping everything running well internally, you’re less prone to experiencing skin issues.