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What Is Skin Resilience? Plus, The Best Nutrients To Support It

Hannah Frye
Author:
December 08, 2023
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
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Image by iStock
December 08, 2023
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Resilient skin entails more than looking healthy on the surface. Resilient skin is strong, in every sense of the word—it bounces back when facing challenges, like dry weather, over-exfoliation, or pollutants, thus protecting your body as its first line of defense. 

So if you want your skin to stay strong for the long haul, consider viewing skin health as more than just an even complexion or smooth surface. To come, how to support skin resilience from within, and why it matters for overall health.

Why should you aim for resilient skin? 

If your eyes are windows to your soul, your skin is a window to your immune system. In fact, “One of the most important pathways connecting nutrients with skin health may be the immune system,” reiterates board-certified internal medicine physician at Big Bold Health, Austin Perlmutter, M.D. 

He explains that skin is packed with immune cells that help protect the body from environmental threats—the same cells involved in wrinkle formation and overall skin appearance. So skin resilience will not only pay off in terms of physical skin aging, but you’ll pay it forward for your immune system and full-body health, too. 

And guess what? Your diet plays a major role in nourishing those immune cells. “Nutrients in our food may be one of the best ways we can keep our skin immune health optimized, and by doing so, fight back against skin issues in every season,” Perlmutter says. 

Nutrients that promote skin resilience 

In general, Perlmutter says, it’s a good idea to prioritize whole and natural foods and minimize your intake of processed ones when possible, as highly processed food often lacks the nutrients needed for optimal skin health. 

Beyond that, try to have a few skin foods on every grocery list. Below, his recommended nutrients to keep in mind:

1.

Polyphenols 

Polyphenols are phytochemicals found in all kinds of foods, from fruits and vegetables to herbs to coffee and even wine. 

These nutrients have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant properties and even help repair DNA1 in skin damaged by UV radiation—thus, why they’re so beneficial for skin aging.

2.

Omega-3's

Next up, an oft-overlooked nutrient for plump, dewy skin: omega-3 fatty acids. While they may be best known for their role in heart and brain support, omega-3s have shown impressive pros for skin health, too. 

In fact, omega-3 supplements have been shown to improve the severity of atopic dermatitis2, also known as eczema. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA), in particular, has also been shown to treat transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and support a hydrated and healthy skin barrier3

A 2020 review on omega-3 fatty acids in dermatology also concluded that this supplement can be helpful for many kinds of inflammatory skin conditions, including acne4. Interestingly, oral omega-3 fatty acids via fish oil has also been shown to help reduce side effects from isotretinoin treatment 5(formerly known as Accutane), including dryness.

So keep those healthy fats from salmon, avocado, walnuts, and flaxseeds on your plate (in addition to a daily supplement, if you please). Find more natural omega-3 sources here, plus our favorite omega-3 supplements

3.

Astaxanthin

Finally, Perlmutter recommends astaxanthin—a skin-boosting antioxidant becoming more and more popular in beauty supplements in recent years. Astaxanthin falls into the carotenoid category of antioxidants, and it’s found in the marine skin superfood, salmon (which, yes, also boasts omega-3s). 

Studies show astaxanthin delays the impacts of UV exposure6, which means less painful skin now and fewer wrinkles later. Win-win. 

Additionally, in a 16-week clinical trial of AstaReal®, a specific brand of natural astaxanthin, participants who supplemented with the carotenoid saw improvements in skin elasticity, while those who did not supplement saw worsened wrinkles.

And getting enough astaxanthin to make a difference is pretty difficult with salmon alone (you'd need, like, 11 fillets), consider finding a supplement with this unique ingredient—here are some options to keep in mind

The takeaway

Want resilient skin? Perlmutter recommends starting with what’s on your plate. Your topical routine can certainly help you build resilient skin, but you should never overlook a balanced diet. Prioritize antioxidants like polyphenols and astaxanthin, as well as omega-3's for smoother, more hydrated skin that serves as a strong first line of defense for your immune system. And who said skin was a vanity-based affair? If you want to dive even deeper, check out this skin longevity guide

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