10 ways to get a healthier skin complexion, including foods good for skin

Which foods can help you maintain youthful looks and look after your skin?

foods good for skin
(Image credit: Cavan Images)

Eating and drinking might be two of our most favourite hobbies. So imagine our delight when we realised we could be doing this while looking after our skin too!

Improve your skin complexion and achieve a healthy glow by adding some of these expert ways to your daily routine. From foods good for skin, to monthly mole checks, follow these steps below to keep your skin in check.

Whether it's protecting from cancer, helping to maintain a youthful glow or acting as an anti-inflammatory, when you put foods good for skin and drinks into your body such as avocados, beetroot and even dark chocolate, the properties and vitamins are constantly looking after your skin too.

So start planning your diet by finding out the foods good for skin, and you'll be looking younger and feeling better than ever!

How to get healthy skin

1. Protect your skin from UV

Sun exposure is the biggest cause of ageing and skin cancer, says consultant dermatologist Dr Adam Friedmann (stratumclinics.com). ‘Wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and a minimum of four, preferably five, stars for UVA as well as UVB protection, because they both do damage.’

UK sun can do damage even in spring and autumn, says Dr Friedmann. ‘Use sunscreen on your face from March to November. Most moisturisers contain a sun protection factor these days.’

2. Sleep and skin health

Beauty sleep isn’t a myth. It’s when our skin regenerates itself, so aim for seven to eight hours a night. But leave enough time for lovemaking! It helps people look younger, says Dr David Weeks, former head of old-age psychology at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. His research shows older people with an active love life look five to seven years younger than their age, thanks to feel-good endorphins and human growth hormone that can help keep the skin elastic.

3. Turn down the heating

Central heating, and air conditioning, can severely dry out your skin, leading to premature ageing and wrinkles. Instead, wear more layers and keep moving regularly to stay warm and toasty.

4. Smoking bad for skin

‘Studies show that the chemicals in cigarettes damage elastin fibres and collagen,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Iaisha Ali. And it reduces blood flow to the skin, restricting oxygen and nutrients.

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5. Moisturise your skin daily

Get well oiled by moisturising your skin twice a day, that is! It helps replenish the oils. Any moisturiser you like will be fine, says Dr Friedmann. ‘Most dermatologists recommend low-cost, fragrance-free moisturisers.’

Get rid of spots for good!

6. Avoid red wine

…if you suffer from face flushing (a condition called rosacea). ‘Alcohol, especially red wine, beer and spirits, is the primary trigger in rosacea sufferers,’ says Helen Bond. Hot or spicy foods can also make rosacea (and other skin conditions like eczema) worse.

7. Wash your shoulders

It’s such a common place for spots it has a name: bacne! The causes are the same as for face acne. ‘Oil and dead skin cells can block the pore and lead to inflammation,’ says Dr Sejal Shah, founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology. For mild cases, and to help avoid spots, use a body wash daily; scrub lightly to get the circulation going.

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8. Do a monthly mole check...

The appearance of a new mole or change to an existing one is the most common sign of skin cancer. And spotting it early raises your chances of successful treatment and recovery. ‘We dermatologists worry that during winter people give up checking their skin,’ says Dr Friedmann. ‘It’s not fun to check yourself naked in front of the mirror in the winter but it’s important.’

‘The simple motto is: a change needs a check,’ says Dr Friedmann. Look for moles that change shape, size or colour, or become itchy or bleed. A change doesn’t have to mean cancer, but it’s important to call your GP to get seen. Most melanomas have an irregular shape, are more than one colour and most commonly appear on your legs or back.

9. Avoid sugar

‘It causes glycation damage in the skin,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe, author of Away with Wrinkles (drnicklowe.com). ‘This reduces the properties that give skin a youthful, plump appearance. Consuming too much sugar will cause collagen and elastin to become more rigid, fragile and prone to damage, meaning skin will lose its “snap back”.’

10. Eat a balanced diet...

‘A diet that supplies all your daily mineral and vitamin requirements will help keep your skin as healthy as possible,’ says Dr Friedmann. ‘A healthy diet gives you the building blocks for a healthy skin.’ Avoid fad or exclusion diets. If you think a certain food may be causing a skin flare-up, see your GP, who can refer you to a dietitian or dermatologist for further advice on foods good for skin.

‘Fresh fruit and veg contains lots of antioxidants, which soak up skin damage,’ says Dr Friedmann. ‘That’s why, when you have sun damage, a lot of the topical stuff you put on your skin will contain plant extracts because the antioxidants really help.’

The best foods good for skin


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Add mussels to your diet, as they're one of the best foods good for skin. ‘Shellfish, along with nuts, gives us copper – a trace mineral that is important for skin and hair pigmentation,’ says dietitian Helen Bond. It’s also key for collagen and elastin, proteins that give skin its structure and elasticity.


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New research shows that pomegranates are great for anti-ageing. The fruit is said to contain a 'miracle' ingredient that strengthens ageing muscles and extends life. The Swiss scientists, who have been conducting the research, said: 'We believe this research is a milestone in anti-ageing efforts.'

Their research is based around the pomegranate's ability to keep mitochondria, the tiny 'battery packs' that power our cells, charged up. The scientists are now looking into making a supplement which is based around the pomegranate. Human trials are currently underway and if successful capsules could be marketed as a supplement to keep muscles strong in those aged 50-plus. In the meantime, it certainly couldn't hurt to try out a few pomegranate recipes!

Nuts and seeds

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Pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts are a great food for the skin. As well as being a healthy snack they contain selenium, which helps to increase the number of infection-fighting white blood cells in the body. Also the other vitamins found in them - vitamin E, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium and iron - are great for all round skin health.


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If you suffer from eczema or acne then nettle tea or soup can really help to improve the symptoms you experience. Its anti-inflammatory effect helps to calm the skin considerably, so give some a try today!


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Tomatoes are great for aiding collagen production. The little round fruits (yes, tomatoes are a fruit!) are rich in vitamin c, which helps to keep the skin firm. Lycopene, the red pigment that gives them their colour, also stimulates skin circulation. Don't worry, you don't need to start rubbing them on your face - simply try a few tomato recipes to start noticing a difference!


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Ok so you already know that water is good for you, but do you know how? Not only does upping your water levels keep your brain fully functional - helping you cope with stress - but water also helps to keep the skin clearer, helps you lose weight and keeps you hydrated. Don't forget to make sure you know how much water to drink every day!

Keeping hydrated is good for your health, and specifically for your skin. If you don’t like the taste, add a slice of lemon or try sparkling. Coffee and tea (herbal and fruit too) can also help keep you hydrated. Don’t go overboard, though; there’s no evidence that drinking gallons equals better skin. In fact, drinking too much water can be dangerous.


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Spread on toast, in a salad or just on their own as a snack, avocado recipes are delicious and our new green friends are easy to work into your daily diet. And if they're not already part of it they're worth introducing, as they're one of the foods good for skin and a great source of antioxidant carotenoids. The free radical compounds provide significant protection for your skin, preventing fine lines, wrinkles and other visible signs of ageing.

Oat milk

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This milk substitute may not be high on your list of daily foods and drinks, but it's a great alternative to dairy. The milk is high in fibre, vitamin E and folic acid, which supports healthy skin. Try it on your cereal or in your tea and start to see the differences.


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Great in a salad, this vibrant vegetable is packed high with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, as well as potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E - all essential for epidermal health and healing. They also help to cleanse the body, eliminating toxins from the body and lowering cholesterol. Try some beetroot recipes today!

Dark chocolate

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We never have to be told to eat chocolate but now we have an excuse as it's one of the foods good for skin. According to research, the cocoa in dark chocolate helps to reduce stress hormones, therefore meaning less collagen breakdown in the skin and fewer wrinkles. The antioxidants - flavonols - also help to reduce roughness in the skin and protect against sun damage.

Green tea

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Green tea is a great alternative to normal tea and much healthier. When hot, it releases a type of antioxidant that has proven anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. A study showed that drinking two to six cups a day helps to prevent skin cancer and may also reverse the effects of sun damage by neutralising the changes that appear in sun-exposed skin. If you're not sure about the taste, squeeze in a little lemon.

Tanya Pearey has been a writer and editor in the health, fitness and lifestyle field for the past 25 years. She has a wealth of experience and a bulging contacts book of experts in the wellness field. She writes regularly for women’s lifestyle titles including Woman & Home, Woman’s Weekly, Woman and Woman’s Own. She has also written for newspapers including The Daily Mail and Daily Express, and women’s magazines in Australia where she spent a year working. She also writes regular travel pieces. Tanya is an avid runner - lover of Parkruns and half marathons. She completed the London Marathon in under four hours – but that was 20 years ago and she hasn’t been brave enough to run that far again since! She’s a keen tennis player and walker – having climbed Kilimanjaro and the UK’s three highest peaks - Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike.