Foods to enhance your skin and hair

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You eat a healthy diet and choose natural foods, so why not use them in your beauty routine? Many of the healthy foods we eat are beneficial for the skin and hair – and may actually be better for us than some of today's big-name beauty brands.

Oatmeal is famed for its skin-soothing properties and is particularly helpful for those prone to rashes or skin irritations. To soften the skin, throw a handful of oats into a bath and soak for 10 minutes. For a gentle skin exfoliation, mix a little oatmeal with warm water and apply to the face in circular motions, let dry for 10 minutes, then rinse off.

Coconut oil
Natural oils have been celebrated throughout history for their hydrating properties but when it comes to applying direct to skin and hair, try coconut oil, which is likely to block the pores and contains hydrating vitamin E and fatty acids. Put a few drops in your bathwater or smooth on to damp skin after a shower. Apply to clean hair and leave for a few hours for a moisture boost.

Widely used in Indian and Eastern cooking, this fragrant herb is celebrated for its anti-inflammatory properties, to speed wound healing and to help treat eczema. Recent research suggests that turmeric may also help firm ageing skin, and it's the star ingredient in some natural skin creams. Look for a natural product containing tumeric but don't use it neat on the skin at home, as it can cause irritation.

Known as Mother Nature's antiseptic, honey has been proven to help speed the healing of wounds and superficial burns. Because it kills bacteria, it is sometimes found as an ingredient in natural products for acne treatment. Honey is also an effective skin moisturiser and can be found in lip balms, soaps, and moisturisers, among other skin care products. If you have very dry skin, you can apply it neat to the face but avoid if you have oily skin, as it can block the pores.

As we enter middle age, skin cells multiply less frequently, causing a duller appearance. Pumpkin contains an enzyme that gently peels away dead skin and speeds up the production of new cells – which explains why it is found in a variety of facial and body peels. Pumpkin is also rich in essential fatty acids, which hydrate the skin, and the antioxidant vitamins A and C, which fight free radicals that can cause skin to lose elasticity.

While you would never apply salmon directly to your face or body, cold-water fish like salmon contain DMAE, short for dimethylaminoethanol, a compound that helps rejuvenate skin. You can get the benefits of DMAE by eating cold-water fish or by applying it to your skin by means of creams and moisturisers. Products that contain DMAE are thought to help firm skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Egg whites
Egg whites are a favourite ingredient in homemade beauty treatments as they act as a mild astringent, helping to firm and tone the skin. Using clean fingers, apply the egg whites directly to the face and leave to dry for 15 minutes before rinsing off. As the egg whites dry on the face, they help to lift dirt and debris out of the pores and soak up excess oil, making it a good choice for those with oily skin or mild acne.

Seaweed is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and is thought to have a host of cosmetic benefits, including reducing inflammation and irritation, cleansing, firming, and softening. Because seaweed is also thought to help improve circulation, it's a key ingredient in many cellulite-reducing creams and is used in detoxifying body wraps.

Green Tea
The many health benefits of drinking green tea are widely known. When applied to the skin, green tea can be beneficial for those with acne. While it can be found in a wide range of beauty products, from facial and body washes to masks and moisturisers, you can also use tea bags. Take two bags and dampen with cold water then apply to the eyes for 10 minutes to reduce puffiness and dark circles.

Acai berries, found in the Amazon jungle, contain a high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. When this superfood is added to moisturisers, it may help neutralise oxidative stress and protect skin against signs of sun damage and ageing. In addition, acai is believed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and even out skin tone.

Have you switched to a natural beauty product? Leave a comment below...

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