Regardless of your skin type, something most of us are concerned about this time of year is dry, winter skin. And with good reason. Itchy, flaky skin is just not fun. But instead of relying solely on your skincare, there are also key nutrients that will keep your skin hydrated naturally in the winter. After all, they do say "you are what you eat." So if you want healthy skin while the weather conditions are brutal, it's important to make sure you're getting the right nutrients in your diet. To find out what these key nutrients are, I emailed with an expert.
Paula Simpson, holistic beauty expert and co-founder of ZSS Skincare, revealed not only the most important nutrients your body needs to lock in moisture during this cold, dry season but also the foods and ingredients where you can find them. She explains that by adding these foods to your diet (especially during the winter), they will help "support skin barrier function and a balanced pH" to keep your skin properly hydrated. So if your diet is lacking in the nutrients that will keep your skin healthy and hydrated all winter long, here are eight that you should try to add and the foods where you can find them:
1. Probiotics & Prebiotics
According to Simpson, probiotics and prebiotics are natural detoxifiers that build healthy gut and skin microflora that work to destroy harmful bacteria and toxins before they have a chance to irritate your skin. And the only thing worse than having irritated skin when it's warm is having irritated skin when it's cold. So to help avoid that, find these nutrients in foods and drinks such as cultured yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha tea.
2. Vitamin C
In addition to its antioxidant and collagen-building benefits, studies have shown vitamin C can help reduce transepidermal water loss to keep skin hydrated, says Simpson. If you need extra vitamin C in your diet, look to fresh fruits and vegetables.
3. Vitamin E
If you want your skin to appear smooth and dewy, make sure you're getting enough vitamin E. Simpson explains that this vitamin is an essential component of skin's cell walls that helps to retain lipids within the cells and also keep them plump. For a diet high in vitamin E, try to incorporate foods and ingredients like nuts, seeds, plant oils, and avocados.
4. Essential Fatty-Acids
"Omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty-acids are crucial to skin function and appearance," says Simpson. Because they make up the outermost layers of skin cells that help retain moisture, getting at least one source of fatty acids in your diet every day will make your skin appear healthier and more radiant, she explains. Some of the best sources of fatty acids are fatty fish (like salmon), oils (like olive, hempseed, grapeseed, and flaxseed), seeds (like flax and chia), walnuts, and avocados.
Concentrated in the eye and skin tissue, this carotenoid functions as a strong antioxidant to support skin health and can be found in dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach and skin supplements like these ones, says Simpson.
6. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is a "water-soluble vitamin that is an important cofactor in enzyme production, metabolism, and transportation of oxygen throughout the body," says Simpson. To help prevent dry skin conditions, try to get enough of this vitamin through foods and ingredients like potatoes with skin, bananas, garbanzo beans, chicken breast, oatmeal, roast beef, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, vitamin-fortified cereals, and rainbow trout.
7. Vitamin D
Because sun exposure affects how much vitamin D our skin produces, we generally have less of it in the winter, explains Simpson. She adds that some experts believe this seasonal lack of vitamin D can lead to dry skin. So to combat this, she recommends supplementing with vitamin D, using vitamin-D topical creams, and/or eating things like fatty fish or foods enriched with vitamin D.
"Known for its benefits to calm blemish-prone skin, zinc also helps soothe dry, itchy skin by controlling inflammatory reactions and functions as an antioxidant in the skin," says Simpson. You can find this nutrient in foods like oysters, beans, turkey, crab, and lean beef.
Because eating your way to healthy and hydrated skin is not a bad way to do it.