With so many beauty products claiming to give you great skin, natural products are often overlooked.
Instead of spending your hard-earned cash on the latest face cream recommended to you at a beauty counter, use what you already have - the answer to perfect skin could just be hiding in your fridge.
If you’d like to improve the condition of your skin, take a look at our recommendations for foods that are good for your skin and could possibly even reduce the risk of breakouts below.
It is widely accepted that the food we eat (or don’t eat) will have some effect on overall our skin health and appearance.1
You can see evidence of this in the many vitamin deficiencies that result in skin disorders.
Take a vitamin B deficiency for example, symptoms of which include patchy red rashes, dermatitis and fungal skin infections.2,3
Food doesn’t usually relate directly to acne. Current research has not found any foods that cause acne, but eating a healthy, balanced diet is recommended for skin health.4
No one likes to experience acne, spots and blemishes either, and we understand how frustrating and painful it can be if you get frequent breakouts.
Spots occur when tiny holes in the skin – known as hair follicles – become blocked by one of the following:5
When this happens, the bacteria that lives on skin and is usually harmless can contaminate and infect the blocked follicles, causing more severe spots than your average whitehead or blackhead.
Not really, no. Acne is a disease and regular spots/pimples are one of its symptoms, along with more severe spots like:
Yellow, orange, red and dark green foods contain large amounts of beta carotene, a skin-essential mineral the body converts into its own form of vitamin A, retinol.
Retinol promotes the production of the skin’s vital support structures, collagen and elastin, which hold the skin together, preventing wrinkles and sagging.
Many fruits and veggies are also rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, vital for stimulating collagen production.
Vitamin E is essential for helping maintain and support healthy skin cells. You can find it in sunflower oil and seeds, whole grains and nuts.
Antioxidants can help fight free radicals, unstable molecules produced when our bodies convert food into energy, or created by pollution, radiation and smoking.
Free radicals attack healthy cells, causing damage and inflammation, resulting in skin lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and sensitivity.
But antioxidants can help halt free radicals in their tracks.
One of the best ways to get more antioxidants is to eat five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
The fruits and veggies with the most intense colours are the ones richest in antioxidants; think about a rainbow of foods on your plate – green veggies like kale or fruits such as kiwi, orange pumpkin or satsumas, red peppers or tomatoes – and try to eat a rainbow at every meal.
A balanced diet is key to support your inner glow, so exactly what are foods that can help improve your skin? Here are 15 drinks and foods that can help improve your skin.
Carrots are a good source of vitamin A and antioxidants which are great for making damaged skin look healthier and more vibrant.
Other vitamin A rich foods include sweet potatoes, kale and mangos.
If you’re not currently a fan of broccoli, then you might need to become one as they’re so good for your skin.
To try and prevent wrinkles from forming, have some broccoli with your dinner. It contains vitamin C which helps your skin stay firm and prevents it from drying out.
Broccoli contains glucoraphanin which can help soothe sun-damaged skin and reduce the likelihood of age spots appearing.
Just like its green cousin, cauliflower also contains glucoraphanin and can help with skin pigmentation issues and soothe sun-damaged skin.
To give your skin a boost of anti-ageing vitamin A, start eating sweet potatoes with their skins on.
Experts recommend that you try to have a tomato or two most days as they are full of carotenoids and antioxidants which help stop skin cells ageing and keep your skin looking youthful.
Next time you have a yoghurt, try sprinkling some blueberries on top. They’re full of antioxidants which could help clear your skin and stop spots forming in the first place.
If you want to improve your skin tone, have a handful of blueberries next time you want a quick snack. Your skin will appreciate the extra boost of vitamin C and E.
Most dermatologists agree that antioxidants help you to maintain healthy skin by disrupting signaling pathways involved with skin damage, helping to prevent wrinkles and offering some defence against photodamage.6
Just like blueberries, blackberries are also full to the brim with the antioxidants needed to keep your skin clear and healthy.
These fruits might be small but they’re mighty. They contain ellagic acid which helps stop wrinkles forming, gives you a good complexion and protects your skin from UV rays.
Not only are strawberries delicious but they’re also a great source of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is key for skin health.
Normal skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C, which is well known for supporting collagen synthesis and helping to protect the skin from UV-induced skin damage.7
Collagen production naturally slows as we get older, but this decline can start prematurely if our bodies don’t have enough vitamin C to work with.
This can lead to a compromised skin barrier and prematurely aged skin.
Strawberries also contain lots of antioxidants which are good at stopping your pores from becoming blocked and preventing spots from developing.
When you eat watermelon, nitric oxide is produced which can help old spots and pimples heal.
A slice of watermelon can refresh your skin, thanks to the lycopene and amino acids contained within.
It also gives your skin a boost of vitamin A, B6 and C plus helps protect it from UV rays.
The redder the flesh of the watermelon, the better it is for your skin which is something you might want to consider.
People don’t call these a super fruit for nothing.
Pomegranates are bursting with antioxidants, anthocyanins and ellagic acid which help reduce the number of wrinkles you get, prevent hyperpigmentation, firm your skin, reduce dryness and protect it from UV rays.
Cut down on harmful saturated and trans-fats but up your intake of good fats, as these make up the actual skin cells.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) also keep the cell walls strong, so they retain moisture and nutrients, helping your skin look plump and refreshed.
The best sources of EFAs, such as omega-3 and omega-6, are oily fish including salmon, sardines and tuna, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Olive oil and pumpkin seed oil are also rich in EFAs, while coconut oil is becoming more popular.
Don’t get put off by the ‘oily’ in oily fish, it turns out that the fats found in fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna are good for our skin – even if it’s oily.
Oily fish are great sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids - types of fat that have been reported to help maintain healthy skin.
For example, the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid is essential for growth, reproduction and skin function.8
Research suggests that consuming omega fatty acids through you the food you eat could help to make the following skin conditions less severe:9
In fact, a deficiency of essential fatty acids (either omega-3s or omega-6s) can lead to scaly, rough skin and dermatitis.10
These essential fatty acids may also help to regulate inflammation in the body.
This may have beneficial effects against acne which is caused by inflammation of the hair follicles and oil glands.11
As well as omega fatty acids, fatty fish also contains high-quality protein, which is essential for healthy skin.
Most types of oily fish contain vitamin E too, a potent antioxidant that can help protect cells from free radical damage.12
Zinc-rich foods are great for helping to reduce spotty skin and oysters are one of the best sources around.
Our bodies store almost 6% of total body zinc levels in the skin.13 This essential micronutrient is involved in a large number of cellular processes.
It plays an important role in skin health, supporting the following processes that are key to healthy skin:14
Collagen and keratin are both essential for building and maintaining healthy skin, and without adequate levels of zinc, the body can struggle to synthesise them.
If you don’t like oysters you could try to increase your zinc intake by eating mushrooms, beef, lamb, pork or pumpkin seeds instead.
If you want a sweet treat, have a square of dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate contains flavonols that increase blood flow, protect your skin from UV rays and help keep your skin hydrated.
Having just one brazil nut a day will give your skin a boost and may even help with any damage caused by acne.
Brazil nuts contain selenium which is also found in onions and garlic.
Replace white carbohydrates, such as biscuits and white pasta, with complex carbs like lentils, barley, rye and buckwheat.
These are all foods for healthy skin as they contain vital minerals to help regenerate the skin, including selenium – research shows selenium can help prevent DNA sun damage and those dreaded ‘old age’ spots!
Whole grains are also rich in fibre, which binds to unwanted substances and helps eliminate them from your body.
This in turn will support your liver which is the primary organ for detoxification, so a clean liver produces clean skin.
Protein is required for rebuilding and repairing every organ in our body, particularly when it comes to our skin as it helps form collagen and elastin.
Some proteins are also rich in co-enzyme Q10 (Co-Q10), a substance found in every cell of the body.
As we age, our levels of Co-Q10 drop, which is thought to contribute to the skin ageing process.
Good sources of protein include:
Now you’re ready to fill your fridge with breakout-busting foods to help you on your way to healthier skin from the inside out!
Swapping your usual cuppa for a mug of green tea might help soothe your acne symptoms.
With some studies suggesting that drinking green can reduce inflammation, boost your immune system and reduce the amount of pore-blocking oils (sebum) your skin produces, it may be worth giving it a go.
Green tea is the best food source of plant compounds called catechins.
Research has found these to be more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting damage to body cells, as well as having other disease-fighting properties.
In fact, Hong Kong scientists found green tea drinkers have a body cell age around five years younger than non-green tea drinkers.
A study by Kingston University, London, discovered white tea helps stop the breakdown of elastin and collagen, vital components of normal skin.
Handpicked Content: How to get your daily skincare regime right
If you find your spots are not getting better and you are avoiding going out or doing the things you like, you may wish to seek some professional help.
Read more about Acne on The Health Hub
Last updated: 2 September 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.