Experiment with seafood, avocado for perfect skin

Students may look at food and think of the effect it will have on their hips, but they may not consider the effect it could have on their complexion.

Whether the matter is dryness, inflammation or acne, food can play a key role in the overall health of skin. Here are a few foods to look for, as well as those to avoid, in the pursuit of a clear complexion, helping students to feel confident when told, “Your epidermis is showing.”

*Avocado*

Treats: dryness and breakouts

Avocado can be applied topically to achieve healthy skin. To use, mash up the avocado and apply it to the face like a mask. Leave it on for five to 10 minutes, then rinse it off. The benefits of avocado come from vitamin E and its natural oil, which is the hydrating part, said Ashley Dart, esthetician at Bliss Spa in the W Hotel in Chicago. This oil helps to soften and sooth the skin.

Those with oily or sensitive skin may be concerned with the oil in avocado and its possible negative effects; however, this is a common misconception, Dart said.

Usually the reason people have oily skin has to do with many things beyond the surface of the skin, such as diet, Dart said.

“Another reason could be not hydrating their skin,” she said. “Their body will actually go into a kind of fight-or-flight mode and start producing more oil as a way of trying to naturally hydrate itself, which can then cause problems like breakouts.”

For this reason, moisturizing the skin with natural oils, such as the oil found in avocado, can actually help battle oily skin, Dart said.

*Seafood*

Treats: dryness, inflammation, acne

Seafood is beneficial for overall skin health when eaten because of the omega-3 fatty acids it contains.

“The omega-3s in fish are good for everything,” said Dr. Suzanne Trupin, OB-GYN at Women’s Health Practice and owner of Hada in the ARC. “They’re good for your vision, they’re good for your brain development, they’re excellent for your heart, and they help your immune system. Because of all of those nutritive effects, they’re good for your skin as well.”

Omega-3s help to strengthen the immune system, which fights off the harmful effects of too much sun and wind exposure and toxins, Trupin said.

Good sources of Omega-3s are salmon or oysters.

*Egg whites*

Treats: dull or aged skin

Egg whites are another natural topical treatment for skin concerns. To use, apply the egg whites directly to the skin like a mask until they dry. They will dry into a thin film that can then be peeled or rinsed off.

The collagen it contains is an anti-ager, helping skin look fresh and bright, Dart said.

“It works with the skin and acts as a type of plumper,” Dart said. “It’s not necessarily going to give a permanent fix but more a quick pick-me-up, like taking a nap when you feel like your skin looks dull.”

*Citrus Fruits*

Treats: dry or dull skin, acne

Citrus fruits, such as lemons, can be applied topically for skin health. Apply them directly by rubbing the fruit over the skin, like a cleanser, and then rinse. The acidity in these fruits helps to exfoliate and brighten the skin.

“Lemon works for acne too because part of the thing with acne is speeding up your cell turnover,” Dart said. “So, if you’re exfoliating, you’re getting rid of dead skin cells and contaminants, which is good.”

Citrus fruits are also beneficial when eaten because they contain vitamin C.

“Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so overall it helps our body fight DNA breakdown because antioxidants help to repair it,” Trupin said.

However, diet alone is not enough because it can be difficult to consume enough vitamin C for it to positively effect skin. Diet helps, but topical solutions are the best method, Trupin said. However, she advises specifically formulated products rather than fruits for longer-lasting results.

*Oatmeal*

Treats: dryness, inflammation

Oatmeal is beneficial when applied topically and used as an exfoliant. To use, mix it with water, lemon juice or honey to keep it moist. Rub it on the face like a mask, leave it on for five to 10 minutes, and then rinse. Oatmeal is also beneficial for those with rosacea, Dart said, and is found in products such as Aveeno lotion.

*Dairy*

Treats: dry skin, but avoid if you are sensitive to dairy

Those who are prone to acne or have sensitive skin may want to avoid dairy because of its inflammatory properties, Dart said. But this may not hold true for everyone.

“People with acne a lot of times do have either an allergy or sensitivity (to dairy), or sometimes they just don’t break it down properly,” Dart said. “Everything we eat is excreted some way through our body, so sometimes that can be shown through your skin.”

For this reason, diet can be tricky in terms of its relation with the skin because it can be very person specific, Dart said.

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However, when applied topically to those who aren’t sensitive to dairy, milk can have a beneficial impact on skin health. One application method would be to create cold compresses by soaking cotton balls in cold milk and placing them on the skin for five to 10 minutes before rinsing. The lactic acid in milk helps treat dry skin, Dart said.