How to get clear skin: it starts on the inside

By Harriet Piercy

Published Nov 4, 2020 at 11:46 AM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Let me start by stating that although I am no doctor, no skin specialist, just another clear skin seeker, I know what it’s like to have bad skin. If you let it, it has the potential to knock your self confidence and even prevent you from socialising because of it, and that’s not fair. To start off, ‘bad skin’ is completely subjective, what is bad to you might be perfection to someone else and vice versa. You should be strutting your gorgeous stuff no matter what your skin looks like, but if you really want to give your skin a chance to clear up, there are ways to do so.

Good skin starts with what you put into your body in the first place. Think about it for a second, the skin on your face has pores, and spots come through those pores from the side that you can’t see (from inside), right? There are also multiple external factors that contribute to spotty skin such as environmental health, bacteria passovers, makeup and now, mask wearing. There’s even a term for it: mascne, or maskne.

Keeping all these factors in mind, you’ll want to focus on what you can choose for yourself, regardless of other external factors. Here are a few suggestions on how to clear your skin from the inside, because if you’re not eating right, your skin will be the first to show it.

More and more research is examining the link between what we eat and how it manifests itself in our appearance, the same way in which our diet affects our mood and brain. It is all interlinked, and it’s quite fascinating when you start finding correlations yourself. Did you treat yourself with a greasy late night snack yesterday? Your body is on your side, it wants to digest the food for you, but sometimes it needs some help—chances are, your skin is about to bite back at you for that snack.

Good digestion means clear skin


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Our bodies are always digesting, and the bacteria in our gut is helping it do just that, so it’s safe to say that we need those in order to stay healthy. Excess anything has to travel somewhere from our gut, and sometimes it travels out all the way outwards to our skin. A study’s findings from a July 2020 experiment suggests that a western diet, for example, which is rich in animal products and fatty and sugary foods is associated with the presence of acne in adults. Processed foods are also known to cause inflammation in the gut, and therefore our skin too.

These products are famously difficult for our bodies to digest, so if you insist on not removing something you enjoy from your diet, try adding something in, such as good bacteria to help with the digestion process. Probiotic bacteria from fermented foods is a good place to start, like sauerkraut, kefir, miso or kombucha.

Drink more water

I know, I know, it’s obvious. But you would be surprised how many people out there will complain about their skin and not add this one change to their daily routine. There is a reason why every beauty guru will have water on the top of their prescriptive list.

Eat food rich in selenium

Selenium is an essential mineral, meaning it must be obtained through your diet. It is also needed in small amounts, and it acts as a powerful antioxidant. ‘Antioxidant’ can sometimes be used as a buzzword by big food corporations that market highly processed foods as ‘healthy’. When it comes to antioxidant in real food however, it is in fact a compound that prevents cell damage caused by free radicals (which are molecules or atoms without pairs that scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair, which in turn causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA).

Often, these free radicals get pretty bad rap, understandably from what you read above, however they are also essential for performing important functions including protecting your body from diseases. That being said, the problems come with an excess of these free radicals, leading to oxidative stress where healthy cells are damaged. Antioxidants like selenium help to soothe and reduce this stress by keeping free radical numbers in check.

This will result in your skin remaining firm and protected. Selenium stops free radical damage before premature wrinkles have a chance to form. It also helps to protect cell membranes against UV damage and inflammation. Think of it like a soother and a cooler from the inside—internal aloe vera, right?

Get those vitamins and minerals

Vitamins of all kinds, but especially C and A, help your skin tremendously. Think C for citrus fruits, which are packed with vitamin C. This supports collagen in your skin, which acts a little like an elastic band, you want it to spring tight back into place. Vitamin C rich foods also tend to contain a lot of water, like strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes or peppers to name a few.

Vitamin A happens to be a form of the main active ingredient of the topical form of vitamin A, Retin-A, hence the name. This vitamin has been found to decrease and prevent inflammatory acne lesions by decreasing inflammation. Vitamin A encourages the growth of new skin cells while breaking down dead skin cells, but it also regulates the amount of keratin (which is the main protein in your skin) being produced. When there is too much keratin, dead cells can stick together and form acne-causing blockages.

Zinc is a mineral that fights off harmful cells, viruses and bacteria. It is extremely anti-inflammatory, in other words it’s another soother, which can help relieve some of the redness and irritation associated with acne. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc.


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Food that hydrates

Those who have troublesome skin can sometimes fear hydrating their skin, which effectively leads to excessive sebum production and spots. Keeping your skin hydrated is so important when it comes to not only keeping spots away, but also for long term skin health. What you eat directly correlates to this purpose too. Fatty acids, like omega-3s and omega-6s—when consumed, will retain your skin’s natural oil barrier and therefore combat dryness and uneven complexions.

The goal here is to source what you can from what you eat, rather than from supplements. There are many, many other options to add to this list when it comes to helping clear your skin, but diet is a good place to start. A good thing to remember is that what helps to combat problem skin, will also help to heal it. So if you’re struggling with scars, the same suggestions apply.


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