Five beauty superfoods that are natural and scientifically proven to work. (Photo: Courtesy of Dan Forbes/Trunk Archive)
There is a major shift happening in the beauty industry right now— products that once relied on hard-to-pronounce, lab-made ingredients are tossing in their impossible to read labels in favor of scientifically backed beauty superfoods. If you haven’t already heard of superfoods, they are foods so naturally packed in with anti-oxidative properties that they can actually enhance your skin’s cell turnover rate. They even slow signs of aging by fighting the main source of all our aging woes—free radicals and oxidative damage which break down cells, leaving us with the why-do-I-look-so-tired-even-after-I-sleep face that plagues just about everyone beyond age 25.
Beauty chemists have been scraping the bottom of the sea, rainforest plants, and obscure berries from far corners of Siberia in order to find the next buzzy ingredients to leave our faces more radiant, youthful, and generally gorgeous. The beauty and medicine worlds are finally colliding in a natural-minded way, giving us products infused with ingredients that boast benefits both inside us and out. It gets tricky knowing which foods are better off inside vs outside, so we’ve narrowed it down.
Here are five you need to know about (and try) now:
1. Algae. While the word ‘algae’ alone may make you think of the slime on top of a pond or lake, you should definitely consider adding this to your beauty routine. Along with skin boosting benefits when ingested internally, algae has a ton of skin-soothing properties when applied topically. Marc Cornell, Sr. Scientist of Research & Innovation at 3Lab Skincare is particularly excited about harnessing the power of algae for skincare products since most people don’t regularly work the superfood into their diets. “Our Marine Repair line uses algae multi mineral extract that allows the skin to rebalance and maintain the moisture content needed for smooth skin.” He adds that, “the formula can rebalance skin, maintain moisture content, and reduce pore size.”
2. Oysters. According to Dr. Thomas Sterry, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in NYC, “They are a great source of zinc, which aids in skin cell renewal and repair. Zinc also keeps your nails, hair and eyes healthy.” He recommends adding them to your diet for nearly unmatched levels of zinc, gram for gram. Rather than schmearing them on your face, try ordering 4-6 oysters at a reputable seafood restaurant instead of your normal appetizers.
3. Adzuki Beans. If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant and faced the “green tea or red bean” ice cream debate at the end of your meal, you’re at least familiar with adzuki beans— adzuki is the Japanese name for those deliciously sweet and nutty little red beans. The benefits don’t stop at being delicious, though, because these beans are loaded with folate, antioxiants, magnesium, and iron— all blood-building essentials to keep healthy circulation and oxygenation of the skin. Simply put, if you lack one or all of these, your skin, eyes, and hair will likely appear dull.
4. Fermented Foods. “Beauty begins in your belly. If you’re working toward more radiant and glowing skin, you might be surprised to know that the answer lies more in your digestive tract rather than on how much you’re spending on creams and cleansers. Our guts are where 70% of our immune system lies, where we make nutrients, metabolize hormones, neutralize pathogens, and make detoxifying enzymes. All of these things can wreak havoc on our skin if they are not in balance. More and more research is showing the gut/skin link,” says Carla Oates of The Beauty Chef. The world-renowned naturalist suggests noshing on kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt to keep the digestive balance in check, which she believes is the source of good skin. “Eating these foods helps clarify and rejuvenate the skin from the inside, so it glows on the outside. When applied to topical skincare, the process of fermentation increases the bio-availability of ingredients so that they can be absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin. You receive the benefits of super charged ingredients while using a completely natural bio-system, keeping in tune with the biorhythms of our bodies and nature. The Beauty Chef’s unique Flora Culture process is backed by twenty years of research.” The Body Inner Beauty Powder is designed to harness the power of fermented foods for your gut, and is packed with other good-for-you goodies to keep things moving and healthy. Available here.
5. Maqui Berry. Never heard of maqui berry? Join the club, it’s the newer, cooler goji. This dark purple berry hails from the Patagonian region of Chile is one of the most anti-oxidant dense foods on the planet. “These berries are packed with anthocyanins, a strong antioxidant, which is reflected in their high Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) value. An independent lab report from Brunswick Laboratories states that the ORAC value for the Maqui berry is 27,600, higher than many greens. It is also higher than what you can find in other super berries, including Acai berry pulp (16,700), cranberries (9,600) and also blueberries (6,500) (ORAC values for the other super berries are from the US Department of Agriculture, 2007),” Oates says. It just may be the next big beauty food.