Natural Skin Care Regimen
I’ve had several patients who think that our skin is just a big wrapper for our bones and organs.
Yes, it is that. But it’s an organ itself—the largest you’ve got. So good skin care is vital for overall good health.
Countless skin-care products claim to be green, natural, organic, herbal, and so on. Many of them contain what they claim, in effective amounts. Others contain natural substances, but in insufficient amounts—plus a scary smorgasbord of un-natural ingredients. Some studies show, for example, that herb extracts are less effective than whole herbs—yet extracts is all you’ll find in some products.
So let’s see how to naturally combat both external and internal threats to our skin.
What are the external threats to skin health—and natural remedies?
Unlike most of our other organs, our skin is exposed to a number of external hazards:
- Pollution clogs our pores, impeding our skin’s natural, cleansing “breathing”
- Too much sun and its ultraviolet (UV) rays cause sunburn, thicken and dry our skin, cause wrinkles, reduce our immunity to infections, and pose a serious cancer risk
- Harsh scrubs and abrasives strip protective and hydrating cells from the skin’s surface
- Not cleaning the skin effectively or often enough contributes to pore blockage, an invitation to infection
If you look online you can find wonderful natural skin cleansers you can create yourself that work effectively without being too harsh. Usually using ingredients like:
- Coconut oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Honey and lemon
- Olive oil, vinegar, and water mixture
- Hemp, safflower, rosehip, macadamia, almond, wheat germ, or avocado oils
For UV exposure, the best natural treatment is limiting your sun time. We need about 20 daily minutes of sun on bare skin—not on face or neck, that’s asking for wrinkles—to stimulate our natural creation of vitamin D3. If 20 minutes is more than usual for you, start low and increase a few minutes every few days.
Staying outside after 20? Cover up. Hat, long sleeves, long skirt or pants, or clothes with built-in UV protection. Or stay in heavy shade and use a sunscreen with:
- No flammable ingredients—the label should tell you—or potentially dangerous substances, such as PABA, methoxycinnamate, and oxybenzone, or nanoparticles
- Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide plus wide-spectrum protection, SPF 30 or higher
You’re not protected in a car, by the way, so be a sun-safe traveler.
But more on vitamin D: Roughly 80% of Americans are deficient. Your doctor can test your level. Safe sunning and a diet with plenty of antioxidants and good fats might be all you need. If your levels are especially low, your doctor may recommend a vitamin D3 supplement.
Natural skin care ingredients include:
- Argan oil, by itself or in shampoos and body washes, can help improve eczema, psoriasis, wrinkles, and dry skin, and may promote hair regrowth
- Applying olive, safflower, walnut, avocado, and evening primrose oils can help relieve dry skin
- Applying oils or lotions with soy, licorice, mulberry, and burberry extracts, along with citrus-based vitamin C, can fade brown spots
- Rhodiola extract in skin care products can help people with sensitive skin improve skin sensation, reduce skin dryness, and reduce wrinkles
- In skin care products, coffee berry can improve the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and brown spots
- Applying resveratrol, from wine and grape skins, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, might protect against UV damage
- Drinking or applying pomegranate juice, drinking green tea and white tea can protect skin against aging.
What are the internal threats to skin health—and natural remedies?
First and foremost, poor diet threatens our skin—and every other part of our bodies.
So the obvious natural skin care best practice is: eat only natural foods. A few targeted goodies for optimal skin health include:
- Fish, chicken and lean animal meats provide the proteins essential for skin tissue growth and repair
- Fatty fish, nuts, and many seeds and their oils—olives, avocados, soy, and many more—promote overall good health and are required for creation of sebum, our skin’s natural’s lubricant
- Red and white meat, fish and seafood, eggs, dark green leafy veggies, fruit and nuts are just a few sources of iron—the most important mineral for the skin
- Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, fish, liver, and tropical fruits provide the vitamin A that helps keep skin healthy
- Antioxidants in vitamin B2, found in fruits & veggies, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, legumes, liver, oily fish, dairy and eggs, meat and poultry, protect skin against ageing.
- Vitamin B3 in fish, poultry, organ meats, peanuts, legumes, whole grains, wheat germ, dried fruits, broccoli, carrots, avocados, tomatoes and eggs promote the optimal blood circulation required for healthy skin
- Adequate water intake (at least a quart per day) prevents dehydration and dry skin
Also on the list of internal threats:
- Alcohol consumption dehydrates and depletes vitamin reserves, especially vitamin B
- Too much caffeine blocks the absorption of the vitamins and minerals we need to help our skin look and feel healthy
- Smoking produces free radicals that accelerate aging and slows the health benefits of good circulation, contributing to premature wrinkling and more
- Stress causes poor blood and lymph circulation, interfering with health-giving nutrients and cleansers
- Sleeplessness can contribute to stress, but it can also make your skin dull and puffy
The good news is that the healthiest natural skin care practices require only a few simple lifestyle changes—try switching to natural cleansers, avoid excessive sun exposure and use natural sunscreens, and eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.
Of course lifestyle changes aren’t always easy…but these can be lifesaving.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: July 10, 2015