This fragrant herb, most commonly used in Indian curries, is also prized for its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric has long been used to treat eczema and is known to speed wound healing. Recent research suggests that turmeric may also help firm aging skin, and it's the star ingredient in some natural skin creams. A rich golden yellow, turmeric is also used as a fabric dye, but don't worry — the hue won't transfer to your skin.
The buzz about this popular breakfast food usually focuses on its cholesterol-lowering effects, though if you stop there, you're selling this "superfood" short. Oatmeal can also soothe rashes and irritations caused by poisonous plants, such as poison ivy and oak, as well as pain and itching caused by chicken pox and sunburn. Simply sprinkle some dry oatmeal into a lukewarm bath and soak for 10 minutes. Because of its grainy texture, oatmeal is also ideal for gentle skin exfoliation: Mix with warm water, apply to your face with circular motions, let dry for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse off.
Olive oil has been revered for centuries as a natural moisturizer, and with good reason. “Olive oil is ultrahydrating,” says Dr. Longwill. It creates a barrier that protects dry skin and is particularly helpful for people who have psoriasis or eczema. Use it straight from the bottle — yes, the same olive oil you use to make healthy salad dressings — to slather on after a shower. Or try it as a homemade hair treatment for split ends. “Hair follicles absorb olive oil nicely,” says Longwill. You can find olive oil in numerous skin and hair care products, including soaps, facial washes, moisturizers, shampoos, and conditioners.
Known as nature’s sweetener, honey is also Mother Nature’s antiseptic — it has been proven to help speed the healing of wounds and superficial burns. Because it kills bacteria, Longwill recommends products that contain honey to her patients with acne. In addition, honey is an effective skin moisturizer. Look for honey in lip balms, soaps, and moisturizers, among other skin care products.
“As we progress into our forties, fifties, and beyond, our skin cells turn over less frequently, causing a duller appearance,” says Longwill. That’s where pumpkin can help. It contains an enzyme that gently peels away dead skin, speeding the production of new cells. In addition, pumpkin is rich in essential fatty acids, which hydrate the skin, and the antioxidant vitamins A and C, which fight free radicals that can age skin. Look for pumpkin products in facial and body peels and in treatments for the hair and scalp.
While you would never apply salmon directly to your face or body, cold-water fish like salmon contain DMAE, short for dimethylaminoethanol, a compound that helps rejuvenate skin. You can get the benefits of DMAE by eating cold-water fish or by applying it to your skin by means of creams and moisturizers, says Longwill. Products that contain DMAE are thought to help firm skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Seaweed is a popular skin care ingredient across the globe, especially in Japan and France. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and is thought to have a host of cosmetic benefits, including reducing inflammation and irritation, cleansing, firming, and softening. Because seaweed is also thought to help improve circulation, it’s a key ingredient in many cellulite-reducing creams and is used in detoxifying body wraps at spas. Several varieties of seaweed are used in skin care products.
The many health benefits of drinking green tea are widely known — it can help reduce cholesterol and may protect against certain cancers and glaucoma. When applied to your skin, green tea is a potent antioxidant that helps skin retain moisture and reduces the appearance of wrinkles, says Longwill. Look for green tea in facial and body washes, masks, and moisturizers. For a refreshing treat, apply green tea bags dampened with cold water to your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes.
Aloe, which is instantly cooling and soothing, has been used medicinally for years to heal light burns, including those caused by the sun and certain chemicals. Its gel provides a barrier that protects against irritants and bacteria, and it hydrates and reduces inflammation, says Longwill. For the most potent burn relief, break a piece straight from a plant and squeeze the gel directly onto the burn. Moisturizers and other products that contain aloe are generally nonirritating, so they are a good choice for people with sensitive skin.
The benefits of this trendy berry are not just hype. Acai berries, found in the Amazon jungle, contain a high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. When this superfood is added to moisturizers, it may help neutralize oxidative stress and protect skin against signs of sun damage. In addition, acai is known to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and to even out skin tone.
Ask our Claude Thomas's aestheticians how to maintain and improve your skin through diet, proper care, our skin treatments and the right products for your skin.