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How to Nourish Your Skin Mindfully and Naturally

Woman dispensing a natural skincare product with a dropper

Abbie Davidson, Editor of The Filtery, is sharing her insight with us this month. The Filtery is a website that provides curious citizens with well-researched and practical solutions for reducing toxins in their homes and bodies. Enjoy!


I probably don’t have to tell you that “skincare” is a booming industry. According to some market insights, the global skincare market was valued at over $104 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to $167.22 billion by 2030.

Consumers are constantly being marketed to about the endless number of products they “need” in order to have youthful, glowing skin… And a lot of those products are chock-full of complicated ingredients and lofty promises.

But true, natural “skin care” doesn’t involve buying a bunch of fancy products or spending a lot of money. In fact, the path to vibrant skin is not just about what we apply externally, but also about nourishing our bodies and minds holistically.

So, let’s dive into the interconnected relationship between skin health and internal wellbeing. And I’ll give you some tips for how to transition to more natural and non-toxic skincare, too!)

1. Start from the inside out

Our skin is one of our only external organs. It’s the main mechanism that protects so many of our other body parts from injury, infection, and more.

So it’s no wonder that when most of us think of skincare, we only think about things we put on our skin.

In reality, skin health and appearance is affected not only by what’s on and around our skin, but also by what’s on the inside of our bodies. The food we eat, the drinks we drink, and even our mental health status can affect the way our skin looks.

So, here are a few ways to build a healthy skin foundation from the inside out:

Woman drinking a glass of waterWoman drinking a glass of water

Hydration

Water is essential for the skin’s millions of cells to function optimally. Not only does H2O help with replenishing skin tissues, delivering essential nutrients, and promoting cellular health, but staying hydrated also helps with the more aesthetic aspects of skin health, too. 

When you’re properly hydrated, your skin appears plumper and more radiant, and fine lines and wrinkles are minimized. On the other hand, when the body is dehydrated, the skin can appear dry, flaky, and more prone to skin disorders and irritation. Dry skin tends to have less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling.

Additionally, water acts as a natural detoxifier, helping to flush out toxins from the body. This, in turn, can reduce the incidence of acne and blemishes, resulting in clearer skin. 

Diet

The foods we consume have a direct impact on our skin’s appearance and overall health.  Vitamins and minerals derived from our diet nourish the skin from the inside out. For instance, vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect the skin from damaging free radicals and UV radiation, both of which can lead to premature aging. 

The foods we consume have a direct impact on our skin’s appearance and overall health.  Vitamins and minerals derived from our diet nourish the skin from the inside out. For instance, vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect the skin from damaging free radicals and UV radiation, both of which can lead to premature aging. 

Vitamin A (which is found in foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens) is essential for skin cell production and repair. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon, chia seeds, and walnuts) help maintain the skin's lipid barrier, which is crucial for keeping skin hydrated.

Additionally, protein sources like lean meats, beans, and legumes provide essential amino acids that our body uses to produce collagen and elastin. These proteins give our skin its firmness and elasticity. 

On the flip side, diets high in processed foods and sugars have been linked to skin conditions such as acne.

Remember that everyone’s dietary needs are different, so what may be best for your skin and overall well being might not be the same as what’s best for someone else. If you have any specific nutritional needs, you should consult with your doctor.

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Supplements

Stress can also impact your skin health, mainly through the power of hormones like cortisol.

Cortisol released when we are under stress can stimulate the skin to produce more oil, which can in turn lead to clogged pores and acne. Elevated cortisol levels can also lead to dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis, as it decreases the skin’s ability to retain moisture and to act as a barrier against irritants and allergens. 

Chronic stress can also have more long term impacts on your skin’s appearance. Persistently elevated cortisol levels can break down collagen (the protein responsible for skin's elasticity and firmness), which can result in more wrinkles.

Stress

Skin supplements have become more popular in recent years, as many consumers have wanted to give their skin some extra umph from the inside.

Collagen supplements, for example, may improve skin elasticity and hydration, while omega-3 fatty acids (often derived from fish oil) can support the skin's lipid barrier and help it retain moisture and plumpness. Other supplements like hyaluronic acid and biotin have also become popular in helping to keep skin healthy and moisturized, while minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Natural supplements that can support healthier skinNatural supplements that can support healthier skin

Keep in mind that the supplement industry is highly unregulated, so be sure to shop from a trusted brand that has strict manufacturing processes and third-party testing in place to ensure the highest quality of supplements. As always, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

2. Know your skin type

It might seem basic, but knowing your "skin type" will help you establish a mindful and effective skincare regimen that works for your specific needs. After all, what works for your BFF’s skin might not work for yours! 

Here are the primary skin types and some general guidelines for tailoring skincare routines to each:

  • “Normal” – You have generally balanced oil and moisture content, smooth texture, and no or few ‘imperfections.’ You can probably stick with a relatively basic skincare routine that includes daily cleansing and moisturizing.
  • Dry – You may have rough, flaky patches, dull appearance, and potential redness. You could also have a more severe dry skin condition, such as eczema, which may need even more targeted care. You’ll want to emphasize hydration and moisturization, and avoid harsh cleansers.
  • Oily – Your face may have a shiny appearance, and you may be more prone to acne and blackheads. You’ll want to use a gentle cleanser, but be careful not to over-wash your face, as that can lead your skin to produce even more oil. Opt for lightweight, oil-free moisturizers and consider incorporating a clay mask treatment once a week or so.
Woman with mature skin type applying a natural creamWoman with mature skin type applying a natural cream
  • Combination – Your skin tends to be oily in the “T-zone” (which is the forehead, nose, and chin), but then dry or normal on the other parts of your face. You may want to consider using a more targeted approach to your skincare routine. For example, you might use an oil-free moisturizer for your T-zone but then apply a richer cream for other areas.
  • Sensitive – You are prone to redness, burning, itching, and/or irritation. You’ll probably want to choose fragrance-free skincare products that are made with minimal ingredients. Whenever you use a new product, consider doing a patch test on another part of your body to see if you have a reaction. Introduce new products slowly, and then try to find a few favorites that you can stick with for a long period of time to minimize potential reactions.
  • Mature – You have decreased elasticity, along with more fine lines and wrinkles. You’ll want to focus on keeping your skin hydrated, moisturized, and protected from the sun. If you choose to use anti-aging skincare products, be careful about which active ingredients you use. While many anti-aging products utilize retinol, it can pose an increased risk of skin cancer as well as birth defects (if you’re pregnant or may become pregnant). 

Remember that everyone's skin is unique, and while these categories provide some general overview, your individual needs may differ… And they will probably change over time, too!

3. Use minimal, natural, and non-toxic skincare products

Choosing non-toxic skincare products that are truly safe for your skin might be easier said than done. There is very little regulation in the skincare and cosmetic industry, and unfortunately, greenwashing abounds. Brands often use words like “clean,” “natural,” “eco-friendly,” and “non-toxic,” but there isn’t actually consensus about what these terms really mean.

So, here are a few practical pointers to help you make the switch to safer skincare:

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Scale down.

With each product you use comes more potential exposure to things like endocrine-disrupting chemicals, carcinogens, skin irritants, and more.

So one way to transition toward “clean beauty” is to simply use less. Perhaps you don’t really need a serum and a moisturizer. Or maybe you can ditch the wipes and just use your regular cleanser to remove your makeup in the evening.

You can even consider using natural ingredients you might already have in your home. For example, you can use coconut oil as a body moisturizer, apple cider vinegar as a facial toner, salt or sugar as an exfoliating scrub, and baking soda for toothpaste.

And if minimalism isn’t your thing and having an elaborate skincare routine is something you truly enjoy, then you don’t necessarily need to give up your full regimen forever. But as you make the transition to more natural and non-toxic skincare, scaling back your products can be a helpful first step. Then you can scale back up again as you make safer swaps!

Go fragrance-free.

One way that potentially harmful chemicals like endocrine disruptors get into personal care products is through the “fragrance loophole.”

This is essentially a loophole in U.S. law that allows manufacturers to include over 3,500 different chemicals in their products without actually listing them on the label. All they have to do is put the word “fragrance” (or “parfum”) on the label, and—poof!—they can sneak a ton of extra ingredients into their products without telling you about it.

Some of those >3,500 ingredients are perfectly safe, while others are not. Phthalates, for example, are often used in personal care products to make scents last longer, but you’d never know it because they are included under the “fragrance loophole.”

Look for third-party certifications.

Third party labels like MADE SAFE®, EWG Verified, and USDA Organic may not be perfect, but they are certainly helpful. If you find a skincare product that comes with one of these labels, it means the product has been verified by an outside organization against a certain set of standards, usually for both human and environmental health.

Woman applying fragrance-free skincare products after taking a showerWoman applying fragrance-free skincare products after taking a shower

Go gradually.

Don’t feel like you have to replace all of the different products in your makeup bag or medicine cabinet overnight. Instead, save yourself some money and some stress by swapping for cleaner products one at a time. As you run out of something, do a little research and swap it out for a safer version. Then repeat the process the next time you run out of another product, and continue on until you’ve replaced your whole skincare arsenal.

The TL;DR on natural skincare

Woman using a DIY avocado face maskWoman using a DIY avocado face mask

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways you can implement natural “skin care” for yourself. Other ways you can encourage healthy skin involve things like getting enough quality sleep, exercising regularly, avoiding or minimizing consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, and being mindful of sun exposure.

The point is that you don’t need to spend a bunch of money on luxury products and complicated regimens in order to take care of your skin. Implementing self care practices that are good for your holistic wellbeing—such as staying hydrated, choosing healthy foods, and managing stress—are the foundations of healthy and resilient skin.

Looking for healthy sleep tips? Check out Happsy’s Sleep Hygiene Checklist!


Abbie Davidson, Editor, The FilteryAbbie Davidson, Editor, The Filtery

Abbie Davidson is the Editor of The Filtery, a website that provides curious citizens with well-researched and practical solutions for reducing the toxins around them. With almost a decade of experience in the world of sustainability and her own personal struggles dealing with environmental toxins, Abbie’s goal is to help you gradually decrease the toxins in your home in the least stressful way possible.