Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inside-Out Skincare - Vitamin C, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Lycopene

Recently in the beauty industry, there's been a surge of stressing the importance of "inside out" skincare. Phrases like omega-3 fatty acids and "induce collagen production" are tossed about casually, without any in-depth explanation. With the beauty industry's increasing emphasis on natural and organic skin care, it's important to understand exactly what these ingredients are and how they affect your body and skin - from the inside out.

Vitamin C. Most people know of the benefits of Vitamin C, commonly found in citrus fruits and vegetables like broccoli, hot red peppers, and spinach. Besides ingesting the vitamin, though, topically applied Vitamin C does wonders for your skin. As an ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is key to the production of collagen, a protein that aids the growth of cells and blood vessels. Collagen gives skin its firmness and pliancy. Furthermore, as a naturally occurring antioxidant, Vitamin C slows the rate of free-radical damage. (Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines and wrinkles.) In some studies, dermatologists have found that ascorbic acid 2-phosphate, a derivative of Vitamin C, not only neutralizes free radicals but actually reverses DNA damage.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are most commonly found in fish, and probably most popular as an oral supplement of fish oil. It reduces inflammation and keeps skin's moisture levels balanced by plumping skin cell membranes so for higher water retention. This simultaneously improves the elasticity of hydration of skin. Omega-3 Fatty Acids also reduce the body's production of chemicals involved in the aging process. In skincare products, look for marine elements rather than actual fish ingredients - algae absorbs more efficiently into the skin when topically applied than ingredients like fish oil.

Lycopene. One of the most damaging entities to your skin is increased sun exposure - this has been proven through research and experimentation time and time again. So in addition to applying an SPF daily, or ensuring that your make-up carries a bit of SPF in it, try to consume vegetables like carrots or tomatoes that have a high content of lycopene. (Be careful though - the lycopene in raw tomatoes is bundled with indigestible fiber, so eat cooked or processed tomatoes instead.) Lycopene is a bright red carotene pigment and phytochemical that is found naturally in red fruits. It's responsible for yellow, orange, and red pigmentation, photosynthesis, and photo-protection. Lycopene neutralises the harmful effects of UV light and improves the processes of cell metabolism and membranes. It can also reduce the signs of aging by enhancing collagen production and reducing DNA damage that leads to wrinkles.

Healthy, youthful skin comes primarily from two things - collagen and hydration. The purpose of many of these ingredients is to retain water more effectively and to boost the collagen protein production. It's important as the seasons begin changing to rejuvenate your dull, dried winter skin, using naturally occurring ingredients. Understanding why these acids and vitamins help your skin is an important step to keeping yourself naturally healthy and beautiful.

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