Foods That Benefit Hair & Skin
While children are usually scolded for playing with their meals, the “all-natural” trend that’s been dominating the skin care and beauty industry is letting adults get creative with their food.
Resources like the USDA’s MyPlate and Food Pyramid might visually represent the recommended daily consumption levels in a healthy diet, but they don’t show how food group items can be beneficial when applied directly to the body. With natural skin care and beauty becoming more commercialized, brands are taking note of those items and adding them to ingredient lists.
Consumers also are catching on. Some find it more convenient and trustworthy to create their own natural beauty concoctions using the ingredients they find right in their kitchens.
Regardless of how or by whom the treatments are made, it’s clear that food can be just as healthy worn as it is eaten. Five foods are particularly beneficial: oatmeal, honey, almond, pomegranate, and yogurt.
The Cleansing Agent
Brian Clark Howard of The Daily Green, an online portion of Good Housekeeping, wrote that due to a more nutritious bran layer, whole-grain, steel-cut oats are the healthiest type of oatmeal.
Howard wrote that oats are a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamine, iron, beta-glucan, and avenanthramides. He also wrote that oatmeal can help lower high cholesterol and boost
the immune system.
Hilda of hildablue.com, a blog highlighting natural and organic beauty products, explored the anti-inflammatory, cleansing, moisturizing, and anti-aging properties of oatmeal. Such properties allow oatmeal to be used for treating acne and soothing dry, sensitive, or irritated skin.
Other uses for oatmeal include:
- Treating acne. One can apply lukewarm oatmeal to affected areas, buy or make oatmeal-based scrubs and cleansers, or bathe in colloidal oatmeal.
- Soothing dry or irritated skin. Oatmeal can provide relief from sunburn, poison ivy, eczema, dry skin, and other skin problems.
- Healing dry scalp and hair. Aveeno’s NOURISH+ Moisturize hair care line, for instance, uses oat protein to quench dry scalp and hair and to replenish moisture.
Although most nutritionists wouldn’t suggest their clients eat jars full of honey, this gooey substance is a favorite to those who prefer homemade skin care and beauty products.
The makers of Burt’s Bees found that honey contains amino acids, vitamins, and essential minerals like B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, copper, iron, and magnesium. It also has phenolic and nonphenolic antioxidants that help protect against free radicals and that support healthy cell turnover.
The antioxidants in honey also help protect the skin against ultraviolet light, decreasing the chance of premature aging and skin cancer. Honey can also effectively treat burns, pressure sores, surgical incisions, and acne.
As a humectant, a substance that retains moisture, honey helps soothe, soften, and moisturize skin. That is also why many companies and consumers add it to their hair moisturizers and conditioners.
- Hydrate your hair and scalp. Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner by Alikay Naturals combines the moisturizing properties of honey with those of babassu oil and sage to hydrate the hair and circulate the scalp.
The George Mateljan Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on healthy eating, considers almonds, which contain manganese, vitamin E, magnesium, tryptophan, copper, vitamin B2, and phosphorus, to be one of the world’s healthiest foods.
Almonds, like most nuts, can help lower the risk of heart disease, which the foundation attributes to the presence of cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats and to the antioxidant action of vitamin E. They also protect against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and gallstones and increase energy.
Just Almonds, Inc., a California almond and almond flour company, wrote that almond oil can be used to nourish and moisturize the skin, to help cure acne, and to reduce wrinkles, dark circles around the eyes, and fine lines.
Almond oil, usually when combined with other essential oils, can also be applied as a treatment for dry hair and scalp.
- Soften Skin. L’Occitane’s almond-based body butter, Almond Milk Concentrate, is enriched with powerful almond extracts and melt into the skin in a creamy and silky texture to help skin look more smooth.
Not only is pomegranate a tasty fruit, but it is also an antioxidant producer. This might be why some beauty brands add pomegranate extracts to their product lines targeting those who wish to rejuvenate their skin.
Dana Oliver of The Huffington Post came up with four beauty benefits of pomegranate use: skin hydration; inflammation reduction; UV and pollution protection; and increased collagen production.
Through her research, Oliver discovered that the combination of antioxidants, vitamins, and periodic elements that make up the pomegranate contributes to its benefits.
The antioxidants seem to play the biggest role. Oliver found that they help reduce acne inflammation, protect cells from oxidative damage from the sun and environment, and boost blood supply, which reduces collagen breakdown.
- Minimize Pores. Pomegranate Balancing Cream-Gel Moisturizer by Korres is clinically proven in only four weeks to minimize the look of pores, help reduce the appearance of redness and improve skin radiance.
As Greek yogurt rises in popularity amongst health-conscious consumers, yogurt as a skin and hair care ingredient is becoming less of a hidden secret. Aparajita Chattopadhyay described 10 benefits and methods of topical yogurt use in a piece she wrote for stylecraze.com, a skin care and beauty site based out of India.
Chattopadhyay wrote that skin benefits of using yogurt include brightening, moisture, exfoliation, defense against acne and blemishes, free radical and wrinkle prevention, infection reduction, and sunburn protection.
For hair, Chattopadhyay wrote that yogurt increases growth, moisturizes, decreases split ends and shedding, and prevents dandruff and itchy scalp.
She even suggested using yogurt for dental care. She said phosphorous and calcium in yogurt strengthen tooth enamel and fight yellowness and bad breath.
Chattopadhyay also attributed the high levels of anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, protein, zinc, and lactic acid to yogurt’s beneficial properties. Because some yogurt products have ingredients that counteract those properties or irritate skin, she recommended that people use unsweetened or plain yogurt with high levels of fat and live cultures.
Other benefits of yogurt include:
- Treat Your Sunburn. Zinc in yogurt can help yogurt lessen sunburn pain.
- Reduce Acne. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of yogurt can reduce acne.
- Hydrate and Revitalize the Skin. The soft texture of Eva Cosmetics Cucumber and Yogurt Facial Wash and Cream makes skin feel refreshingly breathy and amazingly hydrated after each application.