Have you tried all the lotions and potions under the sun to cure your acne or eczema, but with no luck? Although I believe the right skincare products can do wonders for the skin, alone, they’re not enough. You gotta clean up your diet first.
A healthy diet is key to a flawless complexion. That’s why I’m a big fan of Jolene’s Hart work. An ex-beauty editor battling with cystic acne and eczema, she was able to put her skin woes behind her only when she revolutionised her diet.
I recently had the pleasure to interview Jolene and find out how to eat your way to a beautiful complexion. She revealed what foods to gorge on, what to avoid, what her beauty pantry staple is, and lots more:
1. Your previous job as a beauty editor gave you easy access to every product and treatment out there, yet none really helped treat your acne and eczema. How did you finally decide to try a new approach?
Honestly, the changes I made came from desperation, and a feeling that I had exercised every other option to heal my skin, without results. I wish I had more confidence in my early instincts that my diet and the state of my skin were closely connected, but for years I heeded the assurances of the many experts I consulted who discounted any link between diet and skin conditions.
I really wanted the fastest and most effective route to healing my skin, and the idea of changing my diet to try to see a difference in my skin seemed unreliable, unscientific, and certainly more effort than taking a pill or applying a cream at that time in my life. But I was so, so wrong!
When the prescription antibiotics, creams, lotions and gels didn’t work, when the mail-order acne products I was using didn’t resolve the problem fully, and when the over the counter products I was constantly experimenting with as a beauty editor failed me as well, I decided that I had to look more closely at my diet.
The healing of my skin issues didn’t take place instantly, because I spent a while experimenting with different foods and styles of eating. But the general move toward consuming whole, fresh, seasonal food quickly made me feel like I was on the right track. Over the course of that first year of experimenting with my diet, my skin made a major transformation.
2. What’s a day in your diet like?
I change up my diet pretty regularly (not one of those people who can eat the same thing every day!), but I always maintain a seasonal focus. It’s incredible how well seasonal foods target our beauty needs throughout the year.
I like to make a protein-packed breakfast to get me going in the morning, and unless I’m going out I make dinner, like fish and veggies, soups, stews, stir-frys and all kinds of salads with grains, beans and greens. Since I coach and write from my home office, lunches are usually leftovers, re-assembled in a new way.
3. What are the three worst beauty betrayer foods? Please, don’t say sugar, I’m addicted!
Sorry—sugar’s number one on the list! You don’t have to rid your diet of every last gram of added sugar, but look at the big picture and consider where you might be able to cut down in the name of a glowing, youthful complexion. Here’s why: sugar is seriously aging and inflammatory in our bodies, wrinkle-promoting in our skin, it’s incredibly addictive, and it’s just packed everywhere in our diets.
As a number two Beauty Betrayer to skip, I’d say processed food. Processed food really has very little to offer for our beauty, and we eat so much of it. Transitioning away from processed foods to fresh sources of nutrition for your body can truly take your skin and beauty to the next level—and even small swaps make a big impact.
Finally, I’d say alcohol, which acts much like sugar in the body and disrupts our delicate hormone balance. There’s no rule that you can’t indulge in these foods in moderation, but less is definitely more for your skin ad your beauty.
4. And the top three foods for healthy, flawless skin?
It’s so hard to name just three, as there are so many foods that benefit the skin. I’d pick:
1) Lemons, which are excellent cleansers of the body that balance pH, cleanse the digestive tract, and deliver a burst of collagen-building vitamin C.
2) Avocados, one of the best sources of healthy fats for the skin that keep skin cells strong and hydrated.
3) Leafy greens, from spinach and arugula to dandelion and watercress, which are packed with beauty nutrients like A and C for smooth, balanced, flawless skin.
5. Your beauty pantry staple?
Hemp seeds. I love these tiny seeds as a beautifying source of protein, minerals and fats. They’re an ideal protein source in a morning smoothie, especially if you don’t like anything heavy at that hour, and I always sprinkle them on my son’s oatmeal and yogurts to boost their nutritional content. Even though I consider them ‘pantry foods,’ I store them in the fridge.
6. What foods would you recommend to acne and eczema sufferers?
Here’s a good start:
Probiotic-rich foods, like fermented pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and coconut kefir, for digestive health.
Healthy fats, especially the gamma linolenic acid found in hemp seeds, for skin cell health.
Leafy greens, for vitamins A and C.
Pumpkin seeds, for zinc.
Turmeric and ginger, to decrease inflammation.
7. You changed your diet to improve your skin. But did it improve any other areas of your life, as well?
This is something I don’t talk a lot about actually! My skin was my biggest focus, but in changing my diet, my moods and energy improved so much, and I reached a weight where I feel healthy, happy and nourished.
Battling the scale was a daily thing for me, and such an enormous weight lifted from me when I stopped focusing on calories and truly learned to love food again, for all of the good things it was doing for my body.
Just to be clear, I ate a plant-based diet for almost a decade before my skin issues even started— but I had no idea how to eat to support my skin! I thought eating vegetarian was eating healthy, but I didn’t know how to manage my blood sugar, create meals from whole, unprocessed foods, and support healthy digestion.
Now that I’m a mom of a 2 year-old, I think all the time that I would be a cranky, exhausted mess if I were still eating and feeling the way I used to. I need my diet to nourish and fuel me through the day.
8. Do you have any tips to help women make the transition to a healthier, good-for-skin diet easier?
I think the key is in your mindset. Remember that food isn’t your enemy—it’s your greatest tool for beauty. Your diet has an even bigger influence on your beauty than your products.
Thanks you so much for taking the time to do this interview, Jolene!