A glowing complexion not only makes us feel and look good, it's a clear sign that our skin is happy and healthy. While there are a host of make-up products on the shelves designed to create the appearance of clear skin, the best way to a perfect complexion is the natural way. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that gorgeous glow.
Beauty may be skin deep but what you put inside your body makes all the difference to your complexion. A well-balanced diet and plenty of H2O will go a long way to that sought-after flawless skin, but it's doubly important to eat certain foods to keep your skin healthy. Dairy products rich in vitamin A are essential if for well-looked after skin, but if you're worried about putting on weight, try low-fat options such as yoghurt, which has the added advantage of maintaining a healthy gut.
Antioxidant-rich foods are also helpful as they protect the skin cells from damage caused by free radicals. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and plums top the list of antioxidant-packed fruits, so munch them as a snack to keep your skin youthful and clear.
Don't forget your weekly portions of oily fish - essential fatty acids for strong and healthy cell membranes. And last but not least, add a little garlic to the pan each day. A 1996 Danish study found that skin cells grown in a culture dish treated with garlic had seven times the life span of those that were garlic-free.
Exfoliating, cleansing and toning
The key to healthy skin is to keep products, whether cleansing or moisturising, as simple as possible, and this is particularly true if you have sensitive skin.
So when it comes to the shower or a soak in the bath, opt for items that are not coloured, fragranced or 'antibacterial', as these can all irritate the skin. Soaps with added fat such as Dove and Neutrogena will boost moisture and won't dry your skin like other products.
Daily use of a loofah will help to keep problem areas that tend towards bumps, ingrowing hairs or scaly patches, and remove dead skin cells. To finish, opt for gentle, natural toners that contain witch hazel to restore the protective layer of the skin.
With so many products on the shelves, finding the right moisturiser can be tricky, but there are certain ingredients you should be looking out for. Glycerin, propylene glycol and urea are known as humectants, and work by attracting water when applied to the skin, thereby keeping you hydrated - essential for achieving that healthy glow.
Other skincare wonders to check for are alpha-hydroxy acids, or AHAs. These compounds occur naturally in grapes, apples, citrus fruits and yoghurt, and speed up the turnover of old skin cells, making skin appear younger, and helping to reduce wrinkles and age spots.
If you have particular issues with dry hands and feet, use plenty of moisturiser before you go to bed, and wear thin socks and gloves while you sleep. You'll wake up with softer, more youthful-looking skin.
We all have problem areas but there are easy, homemade solutions to many of the most common issues. For instance, that extra virgin olive oil isn't just good for eating - a couple of drops smoothed onto those areas that tend to be extra dry and will refresh and hydrate the skin, thanks to the monounsaturated fat.
If elbows are your trouble spots, all you need is a grapefruit to solve the problem. After an exfoliating shower or bath, rest each elbow in half a grapefruit for 15 minutes, and let the acid work its smoothing magic.
Lastly, don't forget that your skin has a built-in mechanism for getting rid of nasties - sweat. Toxic chemicals that can build up under the skin are eliminated this way, so make sure you work up a sweat once a day if you can. Regular exercise also boosts circulation and blood flow, which is good for your whole body, including the skin. Just remember to wear sunscreen if you're heading into the great outdoors for your daily dose of exercise.
Do you use natural products or remedies to keep your skin in tip-top shape? Let us know below...