The skin is the body’s largest organ, and a critical part of our immune system, providing the first line of defense against the outside world. Having vibrant skin is a key component of overall health and beauty. Our skin reflects our internal state of health. So, to have more beautiful skin, we need to make sure that we are taking proper care of our bodies.
There are a few essential health practices that are foundational for skin health. Additionally, there are several natural herbs that can help us to keep our skin beautiful. In this article, we are going to cover both the foundation skin care practices and herbs that can offer an extra boost in skin protection and supporting skin health.
What Keeps Skin Healthy?
There are many factors that play a role in skin health. Some of the most important are:
When it comes to the health of your skin, or of any organ, what you eat matters. Making sure you eat a nutrient-rich diet that meets your body’s essential nutrient requirements on a daily basis is important for keeping your skin in good health. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants is also good for your whole body, especially your skin.
To better understand antioxidants, it is helpful to first understand free radicals and oxidation. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation and have the potential to be very harmful to our health.
Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in your body. However, oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. This can result in damaged cells—including skin cells—and ultimately ill health.
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Antioxidants can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive.
As oxidation is a process that is constantly occurring due to numerous chemical reactions in the body, antioxidants must also regularly work to keep free radicals in balance. When there is an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity it leads to oxidative stress.
For this reason, eating a diet rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and A can curb the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals and can protect your skin from damage.
Drinking an adequate amount of water each day is important for overall health, and it plays an important role in skin health too. Water aids in digestion, circulation, absorption and even rids the body and skin of toxins.
A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science took an in-depth look at the effects of long-term water intake on skin health and found that drinking 2.25 liters (9.5 cups) of water every day for four weeks altered skin density and thickness. Another study from the University of Missouri-Columbia showed that drinking 500 milliliters of water (about two cups) increased blood flow to the skin.
Without sufficient water intake, your skin appears duller, and wrinkles and pores are more prominent. Proper hydration levels help the skin to become plump and improves skin elasticity, which means that it’s less likely to crack and have irritations and blemishes.
The amount of toxins that we have at any given time in our body is known as our “toxic load.” Everyone has a different toxic load, and those with higher exposure to toxins are at greater risk of ill health, and at a greater risk of developing poor skin health.
Your liver is your body’s greatest organ of detoxification. It is the first line of defense for every toxin that enters your body, and it has the very important job of neutralizing these toxins so that they do not harm your body. Exposure to too many toxins, however, leaves the liver unable to effectively carry out important tasks like eliminating used hormones, leading to an excess of certain types of hormones that can cause skin issues like acne.
If you wish to keep your skin in good health, or to heal damaged skin, then focusing on removing toxins from the body and enhancing liver health (link liver detox) is a critical step.
Skin needs well-circulated blood and air to be healthy. Your skin has a large number of blood vessels that provide adequate circulation to it. Maintaining good circulation and ensuring the circulatory system is free of blockages is important for skin to stay healthy. To ensure good circulation exercise regularly and stay free of smoking if possible.
Nicotine in tobacco is known to narrow blood vessels that will prevent sufficient blood circulation and starve your body of the right amount of oxygen needed to nourish your skin. Exercising regularly and getting all parts of your body moving is also important for maintaining healthy circulation.
Best Herbs for Skin Care
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of keeping skin healthy, let’s look into some impressive herbs for skin care. Herbs contain bioactive compounds in them that have a direct effect on functions in the body. Certain compounds and herbs have been studied specifically for their benefits on skin health.
Turmeric root has been used in India for thousands of years as a medicinal herb and culinary spice and is one of the best anti-inflammatory herbs for skin. Turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory benefits come from its high concentration of the antioxidant curcumin. These anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics may provide glow and luster to the skin.
Inflammation is the root of many skin woes, like eczema, rosacea, acne, and premature lines and wrinkles. Inflammation can break down collagen, trigger breakouts, and spur chronic skin conditions. So, to keep skin feeling supple and bright, it's vital to keep inflammation levels down. One way to do this is through anti-inflammatory herbs, such as turmeric. Turmeric inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory genes, blocking the inflammatory response pathway. Turmeric has also been shown to increase the body's natural antioxidant capacity, boosting your defense system against free-radical damage and protecting your skin health.
Cinnamon is a popular spice with many health benefits. Cinnamon is also rich in antioxidants which fight free radicals and help to protect skin health. According to nutritionist Keri Glassman, "Cinnamon has more antioxidant value than half a cup of blueberries.” For an easy antioxidant boost, you can sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon on your coffee grounds before brewing, or add some cinnamon to your morning oatmeal.
Green tea has been used for centuries for its many healing benefits and is considered an elixir of longevity. Its one of the best anti-aging herbs for skin due to the powerful antioxidants that it contains. Green tea contains a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits. These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage.
Aloe vera is another powerful herbal remedy with many uses. Aloe vera soothes the skin and treats burns, insect bites, rough skin, rashes and wounds. It’s also an incredible moisturizer that can tone and correct the skin. Aloe vera is ideal for normal-to-dry and oily skin types.
When shopping for aloe vera, make sure it’s all-natural and made from raw juice. You can even keep a few aloe vera plants in your home to make your own aloe vera gel. Its texture and consistency make it the ideal herbal oil for skin and one of the best herbs for dry skin.
Red clover is another antioxidant-rich herb for skin health. Red clover is also beneficial to the skin because it is particularly concentrated in plant estrogen, also known as isoflavones, which improves the skin in numerous ways, including by stimulating the skin's natural collagen production system, increasing the skin's thickness, and improving the skin's moisture levels. Red clover has been used for numerous chronic skin conditions as well, such as eczema and psoriasis.
Nettle is a potent herb with many uses. It has anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antibacterial and antiviral properties and is traditionally used to treat disorders of kidneys and urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system. Nettle has anti-aging properties, is used for healing different skin issues and also for promoting healthy and strong hair. Nettle acts as a natural astringent, tightens and firms the skin, regulates natural sebum production, helps treat acne, and promotes overall skin health.
Burdock root has also long been used to treat skin conditions like acne and eczema. The root’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can help resolve skin issues when applied topically to the skin. There’s also evidence that burdock root may help treat topical burns. People attribute burdock’s skin-healing ability to its unique ability to purify the blood of toxins. Recent evidence has found that burdock root contains active ingredients in its root system that can remove toxins from the bloodstream. Research also found that burdock root effectively detoxified blood and promoted increased circulation in the surface of the skin.
Manjistha is a rare ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries to purify the blood and to improve various skin conditions. Manjistha helps in the management of various skin diseases like acne, infections, and wounds due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It also helps to improve skin complexion and reduce dark spots when used with honey.
Rich in antioxidants, dandelions have anti-aging benefits for the skin. Dandelion extract can help nourish the skin by reducing fine lines and wrinkles. This helps to tone unbalanced skin. Dandelion also contains detoxifying properties that rid the skin of toxins that clog pores and cause acne, as well as vitamin C to speed up the body’s natural healing process and reduce the appearance of scars and skin inflammation. The properties of a dandelion are located in the entire plant, including the aerial parts and roots. Dandelion tea is often used to clear acne, as well as to help treat boils, eczema and psoriasis.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and keeping our skin healthy is an important part of our overall health. The skin is like a mirror for the body, reflecting our internal state of health. By taking care of our bodies internally, it is reflected in our external appearance.
Some of the most important factors for skin health are diet, hydration, low toxic load, and good circulation. Low stress levels and proper sleep are also important. Additionally, we can benefit greatly from including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herbs in our diet such as the herbs mentioned above in this article.
Herbs are great for skin health because they are natural, and if properly sourced, they are free of toxic chemicals that are found in many modern beauty care products. If you’re looking to improve skin health, consider incorporating one or more of these herbs into your daily health regimen.