Finding the right skincare regimen can truly change your complexion. But even if you use the fanciest, most high-end products on the market, solving your skin issues involves more than just topical efforts. All aspects of beauty—from your skin, to your hair, to your nails—require a two-step, inside-outside approach to get healthy and gorgeous lifelong results.
To help you get the skin you’ve always wanted, we laid out exactly how to improve your skin problems from both ends. Incorporating the right beauty superfoods into your diet, while simultaneously using effective topical products, will help you strike the perfect combination and see some complexion changes that make you feel and look like a million bucks.
Eat This: Tomato Paste
Sun damage isn’t pretty. Skin cancer risk aside, leaving your skin unprotected from UV rays also leads to damage and unsightly dark marks. Your first step is a no-brainer: Slather on sunscreen, everywhere, every day. Second: Eat foods that contain lycopene. This nutrient, a carotenoid found in red and pink produce, boosts your skin’s natural protective ability. In fact, one study found that eating 2.5 tablespoons of lycopene-packed tomato paste every day for 10 weeks made subjects 40 percent less susceptible to sunburn.
To treat externally, try a dark spot corrector with retinol like Verso Dark Spot Fix, which helps lighten hyperpigmentation. We also like Miracle Skin Transformer Vanish, an imperfection corrector with vitamin C and ergothionene, a powerful antioxidant found in mushrooms. To disguise discoloration while protecting against any more, use a color-correcting CC cream, like Giorgio Armani Luminessence CC Color Control Bright Moisturizer SPF 35.
Eat This: Oysters
Those annoying zits are a combo of bacteria buildup and inflammation, so adding more zinc to your diet might help clear up your complexion. Zinc is anti-inflammatory, accelerates renewal of skin cells, and helps tame oil production. Oysters have the highest amount of zinc out of any food.
Use products that contain salicylic acid, the go-to ingredient to kill bacteria and fight blemishes. Retinol also exfoliates to diminish pores and blemishes while stimulating collagen production to help skin look rejuvenated. Try Philosophy Miracle Worker Anti-Aging Moisturizer For Blemish-Prone Skin to get the best of both powerful ingredients. For on-the-go zit-zapping, throw a pack of Dr. Lin Skincare Acne Wipes in your bag. Another deep-cleaning ingredient, black charcoal, can be found in Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser, and targets dirt within the pores to draw it out and purify the skin.
Eat This: Salmon
When the skin barrier is compromised, water escapes and irritants enter, causing dry, flaky skin and that unbearable itch. Getting a solid dose of omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, herring and tuna, will reduce inflammation, soothing skin and keeping irritation at bay. Try this roasted wild king salmon recipe for a good dose of omega-3s, plus other healthy beauty nutrients.
Designed specifically with eczema-sufferers in mind, Ora’s Amazing Herbal Touchy Skin Salve is completely fragrance-free and gluten-free to avoid any irritation. Weleda White Mallow Face Cream is another nourishing and calming option that helps moisturize and restore the skin barrier in irritation-prone skin. For another hydrating, fragrance-free option, try Kate Somerville Eczema Therapy Cream, which contains colloidal oatmeal to soothe and protect sensitive skin.
Eat This: Carrots
There’s a bit of truth to the idea that eating too many carrots will turn you orange. The pigment that makes apples red and carrots orange—carotenoids—are an integral part of the body’s immune system and help us fight against aging and other damage. And the outermost layer of our skin is especially good at absorbing and storing these nutrients, which results in a healthy glow.
Olay Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream Moisturizer contains a brightening complex that energizes your skin and restores its natural luminosity. You can also use a brightening serum, like Clé de Peau Beauté Brightening Serum Supreme, which targets dark spots and dullness to even and brighten skintone. Exfoliate regularly with a brightening scrub to buff away dead and dull skin and reveal healthy, more radiant skin underneath. We love Goldfaden MD Doctor’s Scrub for this.
Eat This: Avocado
Healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, are important for maintaining your skin’s lipid barrier. When this barrier is compromised (see also: eczema), skin loses water and becomes dry. Adding avocado into your diet is a delicious and nutritious way to load up on healthy fats and bolster skin against flakiness. Bonus: Avocados also keep you fuller for longer, which curbs your appetite and prevents overeating.
Retain moisture overnight with a serum like The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil. When you’re in desperate need for a dose of moisture, try Glam Glow ThirstyMud Hydrating Treatment, which boosts moisture and helps skin retain it for a long-lasting dewy and supple effect. Remember to apply an ultra-hydrating serum or cream, with ingredients like hyaluronic acid that attracts water to the skin without clogging pores. Try Meaningful Beauty Crème de Serum.
Drink This: Green Tea
Under-eye circles are tough to tackle. Drinking something mildly diuretic—meaning, it promotes urine production—will help flush toxins and reduce swelling, potentially reducing puffiness in the under-eye area. When you’re done, hold onto those teabags and pop them in the fridge until chilly. Then, place them on your closed eyes to soothe and further reduce puffiness, thanks to the cool temps, slight pressure and tannins from the tea.
First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy contains retinol and caffiene, both of which help reduce an array of under-eye circles, including bluish, purple-red circles and puffiness. Plus, the metal applicator adds to the puff-reducing cooling sensation. Protect and regenerate this delicate skin with a cream like Lift Lab Lift & Firm Eye Cream, which helps repair skin cells, produce collagen, increase microcirculation and reduce dark circles. For a deeply reparative treatment, use a vitamin-infusing eye mask like Talika Eye Therapy Patch a few times per week.
Eat This: Kale
An inflammatory response, rosacea can be triggered by many things, including sun exposure, wind, spicy foods and sweating. Although you can’t cure it, you can manage it starting with what you put on your plate. Dark leafy greens, like kale, are full of antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals that cause inflammation in the body. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet will reduce the severity of a flare-up.
To soothe skin and reduce redness, try a serum like the Exuviance Anti-Redness Calming Serum, or a gentle hydrating moisturizer like Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Soothing Moisturizing Cream. To conceal redness in the most natural way—and without irritating skin further—use a natural mineral powder foundation. We like L’Oréal True Match Naturale Minéral Foundation SPF 19.
Eat This: Kiwi
In a survey of 4,025 women, low vitamin C levels were correlated with wrinkles and dryness. Vitamin C helps slow aging by repairing skin tissue and building collagen, which strengthens your skin and gives it elasticity—take that, wrinkles! Our bodies don’t produce vitamin C on their own and as we age, we become less able to store it. Although you may associate other fruits more strongly with this nutrient, kiwis actually provide more vitamin C per ounce than oranges.
Retinol is a powerful wrinkle-reducer and also helps get rid of dark spots. We like Comfort Zone Skin Regimen Juvenate-Pro Booster, since it also has hydrating hyaluronic acid, which helps plump up the skin and further smooth its texture. A face oil like Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Face Oil can help restore lipids in the skin barrier, which are lost with age, leading to fine lines and sagging. Supplement your skincare routine with a restorative mask like this Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask full of healing and soothing rose extracts, plus plant stem cells that stimulate cell turnover and repair the signs of aging.
Drink This: Coffee
If you need to justify your morning cup(s) of coffee, here’s some great news: Studies have shown that drinking coffee can actually help reduce your risk of skin cancer. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. That statistic should be enough to remind you that wearing SPF is critical any day you are exposing your skin to UV rays, not just when you’re bumming on the beach. Use an SPF 30 or above that offers broad-spectrum protection—that means you’re protected from both UVA and UVB rays.
Use a moisturizer with SPF in it daily, or opt for a product that is solely for sun protection, like Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30. We like it because it doesn’t contain any chemical sunscreens, which can be irritating and are not as effective as natural ingredients like zinc oxide. A spray sunscreen like makes full-body application quick and clean, and don’t forget to protect your lips—Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 leaves lips silky smooth and comes in an array of pinks, purples and reds that you’ll want to wear every day.