Summer is finally here, which means leisurely pool days, backyard barbecues and vacations galore. But for me, this season can basically be summed up in one word: sun! And with that comes a darker tan, naturally lighter hair and pulling out those shorts and tank tops.
I’ve been a pool rat since I was little, and I don’t plan on spending these sunny days hiding inside any time soon. And yes, applying sunscreen daily, getting ample sleep, hydrating properly and using quality products are all incredibly important to maintaining healthy, radiant skin and hair. Yet there are also ways to protect and nourish our bodies simply by paying attention to what is on our plates.
Though I do believe that supplements such as collagen peptides, biotin and vitamin C are helpful additions, a solid diet is the basis for every aspect of health. Whole, nutrient-dense foods are the key to strong nails, thick hair and clear, glowing skin.
Another important factor to skin health is maintaining a healthy gut. These two systems similarly work to rid the body of toxins, and this connection is referred to as the Gut-Skin Axis. Overuse of antibiotics as well as a diet filled with processed foods, dairy, gluten, sugar and alcohol are hard on the natural microbiome. Both nutrients and toxins are absorbed through the lining of our gut and effect not only how we feel but also how we look. For optimal gut health, take high quality, daily probiotics and introduce gut- and skin-loving foods into your diet.
Check out my top 12 beautifying foods (and recipe inspiration) to help you head into the summer feeling and looking your best. Just click on the photos below for dishes that will nourish your skin and hair from the inside out!
If you haven’t caught on my now, I am a salmon fanatic. Not only is it incredibly nutritious, but it’s so simple to incorporate into any meal. Likewise, this fish is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which make up about 3% of the hair shaft. Though salmon is a crowd favorite, other fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel and herring are even higher in health benefits and lower in mercury content.
When purchasing salmon particularly, always make sure it’s wild caught from Alaska. Recently, I’ve been buying my salmon online from Wild Alaskan Company, and you can even get $25 off your first box with code “WAC_goodness_with_g”. The quality is fantastic, and it’s delivered right to your door. Sounds like a win-win to me!
Above salmon, the only food I eat more regularly is probably avocado. Whether they’re sliced on a salad, blended up in a soup or used as a sauce, avocados are the easiest way to add skin and hair-loving nutrients to any meal. They contain high levels of omega-9 fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E which are the building blocks of healthy skin.
These elements are found in higher concentration in avocado oil, which is my favorite cooking oil due to its high smoke point. Grab a bottle of Chosen Foods Avocado Cooking Oil or Spray during your next grocery haul (they even have delicious, flavor-infused oils now which I’m loving).
Whether you’re into scrambled, sunny side up or soft boiled, eggs are a satisfying, nutritious addition to any meal. And not only are they delicious, but they’re also filled with key vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats to make your coat strong and silky. The sulfur in eggs aids in vitamin B absorption, detoxification of the liver and the production of collagen and keratin, which are important for hair, skin and nail health.
Likewise, egg yolks provide incredible skin-boosting benefits when applied topically as a mask. Skincare guru, Katey, from The Violet Fog, writes all about the moisturizing, inflammation-fighting and anti-aging benefits of egg yolk masks. Plus, they even protect the skin against free radicals and fight acne. Read up on how to whip up this one-ingredient mask at home!
Similar to eggs, coconut has incredible benefits for our bodies, both when eaten as a part of a routine diet as well as when used externally. Coconut oil is a staple in much of my baking cooking, as well as my cooking due to its high smoke point that’s optimal for roasting and sautéing. The high level of healthy fat, vitamins E and K and essential minerals are also helpful for hair growth and shine when massaged into the scalp.
Plus, you can sip on some coconut water for a boost of hydration, but just make sure it’s raw, organic and not heated through pasteurization. Harmless Harvest is my personal favorite, high quality brand (and it tastes incredible).
Especially in the summer, tomatoes are your skin’s savior. These veggies are packed full of antioxidants, including high levels of lycopene that protect the skin from sun damage. Lycopene is a phytochemical that creates tomatoes’ red color and actually becomes even more potent when heated (as if we needed another reason to whip up pasta with red sauce). Tomatoes are freshest and the most flavorful in the summer, so load up before and after your next day in the sun!
Dark Leafy Greens
Whether you love kale, spinach, collard greens or Swiss chard, these nutrient-dense vegetables are nourishing in myriad ways. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals including vitamins A, C and E, folate, beta-carotene, lutein and chlorophyll. These elements boost hydration, protect against free radicals that cause aging, insulate against sun damage and aid in cell renewal.
Enjoy them sautéd with coconut or avocado oil, raw in salads with a flavorful dressing or in to your favorite soup or pasta.
While I’m crazy for basically every type of nut, walnuts always satisfy my craving. Walnuts are full of both omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids which strengthen cell membranes. This keeps toxins out and nutrients in to help your skin and hair retain moisture. These healthy, vital fats are also anti-inflammatory to reduce breakouts and scalp irritation for glossy hair.
I try to snack on a handful of walnuts at some point throughout the day, but they’re also delicious used in savory pestos, protein balls, brownies and more.
Red Bell Peppers
These veggies are the most versatile and nutritious addition any dish. Filled with vitamin C, which is a building block for collagen production and an antioxidant, bell peppers are natural aging and skin damage fighters. Plus, collagen is an essential element of hair follicles, so deficiencies in vitamin C can lead to brittle, dry and lackluster hair.
I love to roast up these peppers for my dairy-free pasta sauce or taco salad bowl. Likewise, they’re tasty used as crunchy dippers for guacamole, vehicles for tuna salad or simply on their own.
Considering I eat sweet potatoes almost daily, I was thrilled to learn about their incredible hair and skin-loving properties. They’re filled with vitamin A, which a deficiency in can lead to dry skin. Sweet potatoes and other carotenoids (the pigment that gives them their color), also give skin a natural, sunless glow from the inside out. Likewise, your gut will love their high fiber content, which keeps the digestive track moving and healthy. And as we know, the gut-skin connection is incredibly important.
I have a vivid memory of one of my grade school teachers saying that she ate a handful of berries daily as her “vitamins”. And since then, not only have I thought of these tasty fruits as my favorite breakfast addition but also as a daily health booster. Blueberries specifically are potent superfoods, filled with vitamin C, A and E to create more youthful, smooth and radiant skin.
I tend to buy fresh berries in the summer when they’re in season as well as a bag of frozen to have on hand at all times. To find out more about why frozen fruits and veggies might even be better for your health, check out G’s Essential Grocery Guide.
And finally, my last go-to beauty food is oats. They’re a fantastic way to create luscious locks due to their high levels of biotin, magnesium, zinc and potassium. Plus, they contain an abundance of antioxidants and polyphenols which increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. Together, these elements both soothe irritated skin and scalp as well as promote hair growth and health.
You’ve likely also seen oats in many skin care products due to their protective qualities and ability to alleviate irritation. For simple, effective oat-based spa treatments that you can whip up at home, check out these 10 Homemade Oatmeal Facial Masks.
I encourage you to get outside this summer and soak up every moment that you can in the sun. Just remember to be smart with sunscreen and make a point to load up on the beauty boosters above. I promise that you’ll both look and feel your very best.