Our Guide To Cellular Beauty: The Most Effective Ways To Support Skin
Skin care emanates from the inside out. Of course how you treat your skin externally might have a more immediate payoff (say, a sheet mask that instantly boosts hydration or a peel that fades dark spots ASAP), but supporting skin health from the inside has long-term benefits. That's where the real power is.
It's a concept called "cellular beauty," and it means skin health can only be optimized when you start at the cellular level: From there, glowing skin will follow. To start you on your cellular beauty journey, we found the seven most important ways to keep your skin cells performing their best.
1. Consume antioxidants.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radical damage—caused by pollution, sun, stress, or food—is the leading cause of premature aging, dark spots, dullness, and elasticity loss. "Using both oral, and topical ,antioxidants can optimize cells to absorb oxygen radical waste," says board-certified dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, M.D., FAAD. "You can help do that by taking oral antioxidants." You can consume these in antioxidant-rich foods—like berries, dark greens, carrots, and nuts—or supplement them. A few of our favorite antioxidants:
- Astaxanthin: a potent antioxidant, protects the skin's collagen layer and has been shown to help reduce fine lines and age spots and support skin hydration.*
- Vitamin C: The water-soluble vitamin helps support your natural production of collagen.* And it does so in two ways: first, by spurring collagen production, and the second, by stabilizing the collagen you already have.*
- Vitamin A or beta-carotene: Vitamin A is critical for skin repair and maintenance.* Beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor, helps to reduce free radical damage that occurs due to skin damage caused by sun overexposure.*
2. Take nicotinamide riboside.*
Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is clinically proven to increase levels of NAD+.* NAD+ is a molecule that drives cellular metabolism and helps our cells function at their best, but its levels decline with age. NR promotes healthy levels of NAD+ and naturally rejuvenates these cells.* This means your cells will have more energy and longevity.* You many also consider finding an NR supplement that has added skin-supporting ingredients, so it's more optimally formulated to your skin health.* mindbodygreen's nr+ is also formulated with phytoceramides, which help reduce dryness and wrinkles while significantly improving skin hydration, elasticity, and smoothness.* It also contains the aforementioned astaxanthin and rhodiola (which you'll learn about later).
3. Avoid inflammation triggers.
Inflammation wreaks havoc on the skin—resulting in premature aging and skin conditions like acne and eczema. This happens because inflammation triggers free radicals, which "activate pro-inflammatory genes, which unleash a cascade of progressive inflammation," explains Jessie Cheung, M.D., board-certified dermatologist. "[This causes] immune cells to recruit other immune cells to the damaged sites, creating more oxidative stress and cellular injury." Essentially consuming inflammation causing foods sets of an internal response that results in a cell-damaging vicious cycle. While everyone's triggers are going to vary, there are a few common culprits like alcohol, foods with a high-glycemic index, sugars, and dairy.
4. Support your gut microbiome.
While it's vital to support your skin microbiome for optimal skin health, it's equally important to do so with your gut microbiome. There's something called the gut-skin axis, and it plays an important role in our overall skin health: It all boils down to the permeability of the lining of your gut. When your microflora isn't balanced, it can cause what functional medicine doctors often call leaky gut, which allows particles to "leak" out and stimulate the immune system to produce an inflammatory response in the skin of predisposed individuals.
5. Add adaptogens.
Adaptogens are medicinal herbs that help support your body's hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine axis, which is the delicate connection between your brain and hormone system.* There's actually a wide variety of adaptogens that promise a variety of benefits.* But one of the most popular and effective is the herb rhodiola, which is shown to slow oxidative damage that can lead to accelerated aging.* Oxidative damage does a number on our skin and is one of the most prominent causes of premature aging—if you are able to keep oxidative stress to a minimum, your skin will be able to look healthier for longer. It is one of the most important parts of preventative aging measures.
6. Keep hydrated.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to support skin health is keeping hydrated. There's a reason those with the most beautiful, glowing skin almost always say that drinking lots of water is how they maintain the glow. Water is essential for all bodily functions. And its effects show up prominently in your skin. Studies show this too: One study found that drinking 9.5 cups of water a day for four weeks actually increased the skin's density and thickness.
7. Consume healthy fats.
The right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is essential for skin health. It's been found to improve skin barrier function, inhibit UV-induced inflammation, and hyperpigmentation, attenuate dry skin and itch elicited by dermatitis, and accelerate skin wound healing.
The bottom line:
What you consume can, and does, affect how your skin cells function. So if you want that healthy glow we all so covet, looking at the cellular level is where you need to start. There are certain lifestyle choices you can make, like watching what you eat, but you can also find a smart supplement that helps you achieve it more affectively.