Frustrated with lackluster hair, dry skin, and brittle nails? You are not alone. There is a multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry built on your hopes and dreams of shiny hair, strong nails, and supple, hydrated skin. But do the potions and tonics you apply to your tresses leave them dull and lifeless? Are your nails prone to splitting and cracking? Are your knees ashy an hour after applying lotion? There’s a reason why.
The products you use every day might be doing more harm than good. Cosmetic products are often loaded with harmful chemicals and toxins that detract from your health and appearance. Fortunately, the secret to beautiful hair, skin, and nails is simpler than you might think. Like so many other aspects of your health, your diet and lifestyle are major determinants of your appearance. Keep reading to find out how to improve and maintain strength and shine for a lifetime.
Watch What You Eat
Don’t underestimate the role a healthy diet plays in how you look. Vitamin C is crucial to maintaining your skin’s collagen and elasticity. Nutrition is vital to maintaining healthy-looking hair, skin, and nails. In fact, some of the first symptoms of nutritional deficiencies like B-12 are thinning, dry hair and thin, brittle nails.[2, 3] Too little zinc, biotin, or iodine might affect the appearance and integrity of your hair and nails. Make sure you eat a diverse range of healthy, colorful foods every day to get these essential nutrients.
If you consume alcohol often, keep in mind that alcohol also prematurely ages the skin and leads to wrinkles, hives, spider veins, cherry angiomas, psoriasis, and skin discoloration.
Sweat It Out
Diet is far from the only influence on your appearance. Exercise is another way to help you maintain a radiant complexion. In addition to helping keep your telomeres long,researchers have found that regular exercise encourages younger looking skin. You can also benefit from detoxing your skin by hitting the dry sauna or taking in a hot yoga class. Just make sure to rinse off afterward.
Reassess Your Beauty Routine
Your styling habits are a major influence on your appearance, and that includes the cosmetics you use. You might already know this if you’ve mistakenly over-processed your nails, leaving them brittle and prone to cracking and breaking. Your styling habits are a major influence on your appearance, and that includes the cosmetics you use. Harsh chemicals and procedures dry, damage, and otherwise compromise the appearance and integrity of hair, skin, and nails. To keep your outermost layers hydrated, supple, and vibrant, you need to treat your body right. If you’re looking to improve a certain area, natural products can help you address gaps in your routine. Make sure you choose natural, organic, non-toxic products.
Harmful compounds and additives in beauty products can compromise your long-term health. The preservatives and plasticizers in your nail polish may affect your DNA and hormones. Avoid anything labeled “fragrance,” this term is unregulated and could mean almost any chemical. Look out for carcinogenic preservatives like formaldehyde, BHA, BHT, and coal tar in your beauty products as well as synthetic endocrine disruptors like parabens, perfluorinated chemicals, and triclosan.
Consider how your cosmetics contribute to your appearance, not just immediately but over time. Are your cleansers nourishing or are they stripping the natural oils from your skin and hair? The heat and chemical processing you put your hair and nails through takes a toll on their strength. Over time they become brittle, dry and prone to breakage. Even worse, some hair dyes are known carcinogens.
Don’t Skimp on the Beauty Sleep
Prioritize sleep. Your overloaded schedule probably eats into the only “spare” time you have: your beauty sleep. And those dark under-eye circles are the least of your worries. You can see the proof looking back at you in the mirror after a rough night’s sleep. Missing out on a few hours of sleep sets off a cascade of hormonal changes that negatively affect how your cells function and how you feel throughout the day.
Give yourself a realistic bedtime. Put your tablet down, charge your phone, close your laptop, and turn off the television a couple of hours before your bedtime to get your mind ready for sleep.
Protect Your Skin From Environmental Damage
Overexposure to the sun, smoke, airborne toxins, and the chlorine in water can lead to a loss of luster and elasticity that ages your appearance. Freezing cold weather tends to be dry, leading to cracked, even bleeding, hands, lips, and cuticles.
Smoking is one of the surest ways to age your skin. Exposure to tobacco smoke decreases your production of collagen and damages your skin’s elasticity.
Natural Self Care
If you want to take better care of yourself, start exploring natural ways to keep your routine. I know beauty products are expensive. You don’t have to throw out your entire makeup bag today—start small. Swap in new, natural products whenever you run low on your normal cosmetics. Work your way through your hair, skin, and nail care products and rituals.
Consider dry brushing before your next shower. Dry brushing will help loosen dead skin and push your lymph fluid back into circulation. When you bathe, limit your exposure to excessively hot water in the shower. The next time you bathe, ask yourself if you’re washing your hair and skin out of habit, or if you genuinely need to wash, rinse, and repeat. You might just need a thorough rinse rather than a good scrubbing. For healthy nails, try to limit your showers to 15 minutes to keep your nails strong. Excessively long showers temporarily oversaturate nails and make them more prone to bending and tearing. Immediately after bathing, make sure you moisturize with organic products to seal in moisture. Don’t forget your hands, feet, and elbows.
Proper nutrition should be your first thought when you want to grow healthy hair, skin, and nails. B-complex vitamins are not only essential for overall health, they’re vital for nail and hair strength. VeganSafe™ B-12 helps support healthy hair and nail growth and strength.
For truly remarkable hair, skin, and nails you should take an inside-out approach to beauty. Eat foods rich in beauty-boosting vitamins and take supplements to fill in the gaps. My favorite plant-based approach is taking our biotin supplement. Once you’ve nourished yourself from the inside, you can shift focus to the outside with Parfait Visage®. It’s a luxury face cream formulated with essential oils and handcrafted in small batches so you can put your best face forward.
What’s your strategy for promoting healthy hair, skin, and nails? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
- Boyera, N., I. Galey, and B.A. Bernard. “Effect of Vitamin C and Its Derivatives on Collagen Synthesis and Cross-Linking by Normal Human Fibroblasts” International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 20.3 (2008): 151–8. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
- “Vitamin H (Biotin).” University of Maryland. University of Maryland Medical Center, 1997. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
- “Nail abnormalities” International journal of cosmetic science. 20.3 (2008): 151–8. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
- Liu, Stephanie W., Mary H. Lien, and Neil Alan Fenske. “The effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the skin.” Clinics in Dermatology. 2010. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
- Ludlow, Andrew T., et al. “Relationship Between Physical Activity Level, Telomere Length, and Telomerase Activity.” 40.10 (2008): n.pag. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
- Crane, Justin D., et al. “Exercise-Stimulated Interleukin-15 Is Controlled by AMPK and Regulates Skin Metabolism and Aging.” Aging Cell 14.4 (2015): 625–634. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
- “Hair Dyes and Cancer Risk.” National Cancer Institute, 18 Aug. 2016. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
- Taheri, Shahrad, et al. “Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index.” PLoS Medicine 1.3 (2004): e62. Web.
- Morita, Akimichi. “Tobacco smoke causes premature skin aging.” Journal of Dermatological Science. Dec. 2007. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.