Caroline Hirons knows skincare. Here she shares her advice for adjusting your diet if you’re unhappy with the current condition of your skin…
The following advice is exactly that, just a rough guide to what may potentially give you some hassle with your skin. You will never hear me utter the word ‘clean’ when it comes to food or skincare. The opposite of ‘clean’ is ‘dirty’, and eating food and taking care of your skin should be pleasurable, not guilt-ridden. That said, if you are having some skin concerns and you suspect that your dietary choices could be playing a part, the below advice might be a safe place to start.
Inflammation is the root of all evil. Try to eat less sugar and take vitamin D supplements and probiotics.
The worst thing for the skin. And it’s in everything. You need to think of sugar as the Devil. And fizzy drinks/soda as Liquid Satan. Avoid fizzy drinks, fruit juice, pastries, condiments such as ketchup, salad cream, brown sauce and steak sauce. Get into the habit of reading labels: fructose, sucrose, maltose, golden syrup, dextrose – these are all forms of sugar. Empty calories. Drink water. Sugar is the easiest addiction to stop – after a few days you won’t even think about that mid-afternoon chocolate. Cutting out sugar from your diet is one of the best things you can do for your health and skin.
If ‘cooking’ to you means piercing the film of a ready-meal packet, you are not cooking – you are reheating, and eating processed food, which has no benefit to your health or skin. Everyone laughs when I say it, but Mother Nature makes very little that’s white. Avoid processed white foods. It’s not rocket science. They have, for the most part, been completely bastardised by the food industry. Bread, pasta, cereals, sugar and cakes – if they are white they are not real food. Think how fast your car would break down if you used ‘petrol substitute’.
Dairy is designed to take that cute calf and turn it into a 1,500lb cow/bull in under a year. And it does a bloody good job of it. We are the only species that drinks the milk of another species. It’s not natural and you don’t need it. But again, it’s in everything. Dairy contains hormones that can alter our endocrine system and can possibly in turn contribute to acne. That, sadly, yet obviously, includes cheese. If you eat or drink dairy, try to cut down your intake and go for organic, full-fat. Consider non-dairy alternatives.
Fried foods/bad fats
Avoid all margarines, corn oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, trans fats and hydrogenated oils. This obviously means by association that you should avoid crisps, chips (French fries) and deep-fried anything. Use olive, rapeseed or macadamia oil.
If you’re a parent and you won’t let your toddler eat what you are eating, why are YOU eating it?
Consider supplementing your diet. If you have problem skin and don’t take fish oil, try it – in large doses.* If you are vegetarian or vegan, try the flax substitute (but in my experience it’s not nearly as powerful).
*as long as you are not contraindicated in any way. Always speak to your doctor before supplementing.
Watch your alcohol intake. It’s extremely dehydrating and, again, is predominantly sugar. If you are disciplined and can have the odd glass of good red wine, fine. If not, you may want to reconsider altogether.
Extracted from Skincare by Caroline Hirons (HQ, HarperCollins), out now.
Photograph by Nicky Johnston