While your vegan meals may be brimming with antioxidants and your high-protein regime fuelling your next workout session, your diet could be wreaking havoc with your complexion. Because the food you eat – from hydrating healthy fats in salmon to glow-boosting vitamins in fruits and vegetables – may matter to your skin as much as your waistline…
IF: You’re Vegetarian Or Vegan
Your diet is naturally lighter in protein. The lack of animal protein (eggs, dairy, fish and meat) can cause skin to appear dry, dull and unhealthy. The fibres that help give skin its ‘snap-back’ resilience – collagen and elastin – are made up of protein, so a deficiency can take its toll on the skin. Meat and dairy-free diets also tend to be low in fat, so be sure to incorporate adequate amounts of ground flaxseeds, olive oil and avocados to help keep your skin retain water, making it more supple.
TRY: Products loaded with hyaluronic acid, which helps to maintain plumpness for a dewy, hydrated look; we love The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90). Also keep an eye out for products containing super-soothing oleic acid in the form of avocado, argan and buriti oils. And make an effort to include protein at every meal – try: lentils with quinoa; hummus or nut butter with nut-based crackers; black beans with brown rice; or pea soup with wholegrain pitta bread, remembering that veggie sources of protein must be combined to make them complete (meaning they contain a whole complex of amino acids). Consider giving your skin a helping hand with ZENii’s ProCollagen supplement, £40, too, which is clinically proven to improve skin elasticity and support the body’s own collagen production.
IF: You’re Gluten-Free
Your skin could be ageing more quickly. Many gluten-free products are overly processed, which can take its toll on the skin – causing sugar spikes that increase sagging skin, collagen breakdown and acne. Be wary if you make a bee-line for the gluten-free aisle in the supermarket – some gluten-free products can be even higher in fat and sugar than their normal counterparts to improve flavour and texture. In short, a gluten-free label doesn’t equate to healthy or nutritious – and bear in mind that gluten-rich grains pack a vitamin B and selenium punch, both of which are crucial when it comes to fighting off inflammation.
TRY: To combat inflammation and keep the skin barrier healthy and strong, try probiotic-rich skincare – such as the Aurelia range. When applied topically, probiotics have been proven to lower the stress level of the skin, thus calming inflammation, improving elasticity and reducing sun damage.
IF: You’re Detoxing Or Intermittent Fasting
Your skin, like your body, may become dehydrated.
TRY: In addition to drinking plenty of water, incorporate an extra-hydrating moisturiser or serum into your routine on fasting days, especially if you’re on the 5:2 diet. Try Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream, £42, to instantly sooth skin, or invest in Dr Sebagh’s Rose de Vie Hydrating Mask, £69, which is brimming with citrulline (an amino acid derived from watermelon) that binds with water in your skin to boost hydration levels.
IF: Your Diet Is High In Protein
You’re more prone to breakouts as excessive protein can upset the body’s pH, making it more acidic. Too much protein can also zap calcium levels, and a loss of bone density in the face can be ageing.
TRY: To combat acidity – and thus make the body more alkaline - increase your intake of greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage as well as herbs such as parsley, dill and basil. In regard to skincare, including a retinol-based product in your regime will boost skin turnover and tackle unwanted breakouts, and a clarifying cleanser such as MZ Skin’s Cleanse & Clarify £56, will help keep pores clear.
IF: You’re A Calorie Counter
Your diet may be lower in fat, and skin relies on essential fatty acids (the body cannot produce them on its own) to maintain hydration. Fatty acids make up an integral component of cell walls, helping to maintain cell structure and function; studies have shown getting the right amount of good fats is essential to maintaining plump, glowing skin as we age.
TRY: Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Apply topically in the form of an oil – try mixing a few drops of Emma Hardie’s Brilliance Facial Oil, £31, into your regular moisturiser – and invest in a night mask such as Aerin Beauty’s Rose Night Cream & Overnight Mask, £60, to restore hydration as you sleep for a glowing visage come morning.
IF: You’re Addicted To Caffeine
You may be seeing the effects in your skin – high caffeine consumption can mess with stress hormones, particularly collagen-damaging cortisol, and sleep, which has a knock-on effect on your complexion. If you can’t live without your daily caffeine fix, see if you can cut down to one coffee a day, or one every other day; have it with food, not on an empty stomach, and before 2pm.
TRY: Switch to something like the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee (a half coffee, half medicinal mushroom blend favoured by nutritionist extraordinaire Eve Kalinik) or one of the many coffee substitutes which have reduced or no caffeine. Be wary of opting for decaffeinated coffee – it can often be processed – and make sure the caffeine has been removed via water or CO2 extraction.