Reprinted from MindBodyGreen.com blog post, December 12, 2016
With more than two decades in beauty, I’m a long-time supporter of topical application of natural ingredients. A key reason for applying topically, is less than one percent of what we ingest ever makes its way to the skin. You can eat all of the superfoods you want (I suggest you do) to fight free radicals and boost your immune system. However, the only way to attack surface-level conditions like acne and psoriasis is by applying the ingredient directly to the skin, scalp and hair. So, short of rubbing an avocado on your face, how are superfoods best added to a regimen?
Working with infusions is a bit like being a chemist. On a daily basis, you can dial up or dial down the ingredients you need. Due to travel, climate changes, hormones, stress, your skin has different needs each day. Infusions offer the ability to create a personalized blending bar of the attributes you need without forcing a change of habits. With that in mind, I want to help you sort through five favorite superfoods that are especially beautiful for beauty and grooming:
An ancient superfood that is re-emerging in modern skin care, turmeric may seem trendy, but it has a long, rich history. Used in India and the Middle East for thousands of years, it’s one of the most highly-prized spices in the world. I call turmeric a multi-purpose super-ingredient, because it’s a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It has a myriad of properties, helping manage oil secretion, clearing blemishes, and natural exfoliating skin. My favorite cosmetic attribute of turmeric are its brightening powers. The brightening effect is caused by curcumin, which is its the primary pharmacological agent. Curcumin works to block the activation of proteins that increase melanin, which makes it an amazing complexion brightener and UV-damage protector.
Tip: Get glowing with this DIY turmeric face mask.
Avocados are high in mono-unsaturated fats and calories, and are very rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Skin benefits include enhanced collagen generation, and its brilliant for eczema and psoriasis too. Because it’s an antioxidant, avocados also reduce blemishes from UV exposure. This superfood does wonders for hair too—they enhance scalp and hair health, prevent hair loss, moisturize, condition and treat dandruff.
Here’s a recipe you can make at home to experience the benefits of turmeric and avocado together:
Avocado Turmeric Mask
This mask gives your skin a beautiful hydrated glow. Avocado is incredibly moisture-rich as well as nourishing and calming. Honey is hydrating and turmeric brightens up the skin.
- Peel 1 fully-ripe, fresh avocado and remove the seed.
- Add one teaspoon of ground turmeric.
- Mash up well and stir.
- Add 1 tablespoon of honey and stir until it forms a smooth paste-like consistency.
- Apply to skin and leave on for 15 minutes.
- Use lightly warm water to rinse and pat with a cool damp towel to finish.
Blueberry was ranked No. 1 in antioxidant activity by the USDA compared to 40 fruits and vegetables. When used topically, blueberries, like turmeric, fade spots and discoloration on the body, counteract the appearance of aging, and help reduce breakouts and acne. Other than providing large amounts of antioxidants, blueberries are also a great source of vitamins C, K and E, as well as manganese. A 4-week intervention study with 168 people showed that daily intake of an antioxidant-rich blueberry/apple juice reduced DNA damage due to oxidative stress by 20%, which turned back the participants’ biological clock.
Tip: Try making this DIY blueberry face mask.
Quinoa is recognized as a delicious grain with amazing health, skin, and hair benefits. Introducing this oval-shaped seed into your life topically can help skin’s elasticity, softness and barrier-function. Topical application of quinoa also builds connective tissue for tone and wrinkle prevention. Along with skin benefits also comes healthier hair: quinoa protects and nourishes hair follicles, promotes hair growth, treats dandruff and seals split ends.
Tip: Rub this Quinoa & Avocado Oil daily on skin, or use it as a primer before you apply your makeup. Glow-city central!
Probiotics are different from the rest of the superfoods as they are naturally found in the body. They are often referred to as “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they keep your gut healthy. Using probiotics topically shields cells from bad bacteria, calms inflammation and helps prevent breakouts. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin prone to acne or rosacea has shown improvement with daily probiotic use, giving dermatologists reason to consider supplementing traditional acne therapy with a dose of this beneficial bacteria. The benefits to the hair from probiotics include strengthening the scalp to prevent hair loss and increasing hair thickness and growth rate.
Tip: Your scalp will love this slow-cooked probiotic Greek yoghurt slathered on as a hair mask once a week.
Share your experiences with topical superfoods!