In today’s consumer-driven culture, a stream of cutting-edge skincare and must-have supplements flows into stores and e-commerce sites daily; each new product promising to change your life in some way. I’m the first to admit that I get a little trigger-happy with the “Add to Cart” button — I love the feeling of being the first to try “the next big thing” in beauty and wellness. But really, who has the time (or the shelf space) to keep up with it all? Not me. Which is why multitasking, single-ingredient superfoods that you can use inside and out are my latest obsession.
For example, my trusty jar of turmeric. I sprinkle some on my eggs every morning (it helps ease digestion and take down inflammation), and I also mix the spice with honey and use it as a 15-minute face mask to tackle hormonal acne. These days, science has proven that more and more superfoods provide these kinds of dual-action benefits; albeit, not in the same exact way.
“There is a complex process that occurs when we eat food; vitamins and minerals are broken down by our body the second they enter our mouths, and throughout our entire digestion process chemical reactions occur within our body to facilitate the absorption and utilization of vitamins and minerals,” Jill Therese, the founder of Heal Your Face With Food, tells Nécessité. “Putting those same vitamins and minerals directly on the skin means that they won’t go through the same process of digestion and assimilation — however, they may still provide benefits.” Therese explains that because the skin has its own microbiome (just like the gut!) it assimilates the properties of certain herbs and spices slightly differently, but the results are undeniable. “The skin can be positively impacted by applying [superfoods] directly,” she tells me.
Curious about this inside-meets-outside approach to beauty and wellness? Read on to discover the five superfoods to add to your routine ASAP.
Like I mentioned, turmeric is an all-purpose spice that can be used in a number of ways. Incorporate it into your cooking or mix it into a “golden milk latte” to reap its anti-inflammatory benefits from the inside.
As a skincare ingredient, it has a similar anti-inflammatory effect. Blend it with rose water and dab the mixture onto active pimples as a spot treatment, or mix a tablespoon of turmeric with equal parts honey for a face mask that will brighten hyperpigmentation and gently exfoliate.
Charcoal is a powerful detoxing agent that grabs onto toxins and ushers them out of the body (or the pores). To cleanse from the inside, take a charcoal capsule with your morning vitamins. It acts as a magnet to draw in all the excess toxins it finds, then eliminates them through the digestive tract.
Used in a face mask, charcoal acts in much the same way: It latches on to any bad bacteria, dirt, and oil hanging out in your pores. When you wash the mask off, all those impurities are washed away, too, leaving your skin clean and clear. Be warned, though — charcoal can leave behind some black residue. Mix it with water and a drop or two of oil for a DIY face mask (I like plain jojoba oil), then use a bit more of the oil to cleanse your skin afterwards. This will help get rid of any leftover pigment.
“Chamomile can positively impact the skin from an internal and external perspective,” Therese says. “Chamomile is a bitter herb, generally speaking, so it helps to jump start our digestive system to function at peak performance levels by stimulating the production of stored bile (necessary for sugar metabolism and fat digestion) and general stimulation of digestive juices to and from the gallbladder to the small intestine after meals, thus aiding very important detoxification pathways in the body.” Have a cuppa in the morning to set your stomach up for success.
“Chamomile is helpful as an external skincare item because of its two primary components, apigenin and alpha bisabolol,” the natural beauty expert shares. “These help to make chamomile anti-inflammatory and also aid in cell turnover, which is very important for clear, bright skin as too many dead, excess skin cells can cause breakouts and dullness.” To harness the power of chamomile in your skincare routine, brew a pot of tea and use the lukewarm water to cleanse. You can even put two warm tea bags on top of your eyes, cucumber-style, to take down puffiness!
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Crushed pearl powder is an emerging trend in the wellness space since it promotes a glowing complexion from the inside out. Mix a tablespoon into your smoothie everyday, and you’ll notice thicker, plumper skin — that’s because pearl supports production of the body’s natural collagen. It also works as a brightening agent, and helps even out skin tone.
But the best thing about pearl powder? You can mix a pinch into your moisturizer for a lit-from-within glow. The crushed particles work to refract light; so every time your face catches the light, it’ll gleam like a literal pearl — no highlighter necessary.
Lavender tea is an age-old natural remedy for soothing pain, relaxing sore muscles, and putting you to sleep. Bonus: The scent of lavender is said to ease symptoms of anxiety, too.
As a skincare ingredient, lavender retains its calming qualities. “Lavender oil in particular is very soothing, so it can help with the overproduction of sebum because of its stress relieving capabilities,” Therese says. (When you’re stressed, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol — which in turn tells your sebaceous glands to produce too much oil). “It’s also highly antibacterial as well, so it may help to kill acne-causing bacteria on your face.” Be careful when using lavender essential oil on the face, though — it’s potent. Blend one or two drops with a tablespoon of jojoba oil to dilute its power, then massage the mixture into your skin for a soothing DIY treatment.
Start incorporating these five superfoods into your health and beauty routines, and you’ll notice major results — the best one being the extra shelf space over your bathroom sink.
Photographer Credit: Madeleine Steinbach