Brighten up your complexion with our A-to-Z guide to skin-boosting ingredients that will revitalise inside and out
Aloe vera has long been heralded as a tonic for the skin – the ancient Egyptians used it to treat wounds and burns, while Cleopatra was rumoured to feature it in her daily skincare routine. “Aloe vera can soothe inflammation, reduce redness and replenish moisture, helping you to have more radiant and glowing skin,” explains Kelly Mulhall, nutritionist and founder of thenaturalbalance.net. Drink aloe vera juice, or apply it topically with a product such as Jason Natural 98 percent Aloe Vera Gel (£3.99, naturismo.com).
The secret to radiant skin could lie in red, orange and yellow fruit and veg, which are full of carotenoids. Betacarotene is just one of the carotenoids and you can find it in sweet potatoes, carrots and red peppers. Once eaten, the body converts beta-carotene into active vitamin A (or retinol) which is required for a healthy complexion. “Vitamin A is an antioxidant that reduces sebum production, which can be a major trigger for outbreaks of acne,” explains Kelly.
Get it from your food or put it on your skin, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals while supporting collagen synthesis. “Vitamin C stimulates collagen production and lifts away hyperpigmentation to reveal bright and glowing skin,” says Jessica Smith, head of brand development at Natura Siberica (naturasiberica.co.uk). “It’s considered ‘skin safe’, meaning most people can use it topically.” The Natura Siberica Brightening Face Serum (£10.49, naturasiberica.co.uk) is made with plants that boast a high concentration of the vitamin.
You’ll have seen the little yellow dandelion flowers in British fields, but have you considered looking for them among the ingredients lists on your moisturisers and serums? The powerful flowers offer a myriad of anti-ageing vitamins, including vitamins A, C and E, all of which can help to protect the skin from free radical damage. Dandelions also contain magnesium and zinc, which can calm skin irritation.
As well as being a popular beauty ingredient, vitamin E can be found in foods such as sunflower seeds, trout and avocados. When combined with vitamin C, the antioxidant effects are doubled and your skin reaps all of its restorative rewards, which includes helping with cellular repair from sun damage and healing scars or burns.
So much more than a gift supplied by the Three Wise Men, frankincense has long been used in ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its beauty benefits. Known as the ‘king of essential oils’, it can fade scars, ease acne and fight premature ageing. “Not only does it smell luxuriously indulgent, but frankincense oil also offers rejuvenating benefits to the skin,” agrees Tiffany Salmon, founder of Scientia. “With astringent properties, frankincense oil can help protect skin cells, restoring, rejuvenating and promoting smooth skin.” We love Scientia Dusk Elixir (£32, scientiabeauty.com) for combining frankincense with ylang ylang, lavender and bakuchiol oil.
This energising drink could freshen up your skin, too. “Green tea is a natural antioxidant containing polyphenols that may improve the appearance of sun damaged skin,” says Kelly. Indeed, studies have even shown that drinking green tea could help to reduce the risk of skin cancer. “Organic, loose leaf green tea is much better than green tea bags, as loose tea will have the highest nutrient content.” So, swap your daily coffee for a cup of the green stuff.
Hibiscus flowers are a symbol of beauty all over the world, and for good reason – packed with polyphenols and antioxidants such as flavonoids, the edible flowers can help promote younger-looking skin. “Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, which can damage collagen, causing skin dryness, dullness and wrinkles,” explains Shabir Daya, pharmacist and co-founder of Victoria Health. Try Aduna Hibiscus Powder (£13.99, aduna.com), a sustainably-sourced superfood, made from dried hibiscus sabdariffa flowers, that can be added to your porridge or smoothie.
“Iodine is a mineral that not only regulates our skin’s moisture levels but also facilitates skin repair,” says Madeleine Shaw, nutritional therapist and author. “Aiding the healing of scars and cuts, iodine supports the regeneration of the lower layers of our skin by triggering cellular function, rejuvenating skin, hair and nails.” You can get iodine through your diet from seafood such as seaweed, cod and tuna, as well as some dairy products such as milk or yoghurt.
Chances are, you’ve heard of jojoba oil and even seen it featured in one of your favourite products. Produced from the seeds of the jojoba plant, it’s a great multitasker that can be used on hair, skin and nails. In particular, though, it’s packed full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that will hydrate and boost skin. “The chemical composition of jojoba oil is very similar to that of the skin, which makes it easy to absorb and great at improving skin’s elasticity,” says Faye Purcell, skincare expert at Q+A. The new Q+A Chamomile Night Cream (£12, qandaskin.com) blends this wonder ingredient with calming chamomile and anti-inflammatory bisabolol.
There’s a reason why beauty fans love kiwi face masks – the nutrient-dense fruit is a great source of vitamin C which offers oodles of benefits for the skin, including supporting its collagen density. Kiwi fruits also contain phytochemicals, vitamin E, carotenoids, and they have anti-inflammatory properties that can ease acne or skin rashes. Eat them, or mix them with natural yoghurt before slathering on your face as a DIY face mask.
6 issues for £19.99*
when you subscribe today
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...