ABCs of Skin Care ~ D is for Digestion

You might be thinking I made a mistake writing about digestion and the skin, but its no mistake. Digestion, or how we intake, process, absorb and excrete food, plays an enormous role in healthy skin.

We quite literally ARE what we eat, and the result of what we eat shows up on our skin. The digestive process is a very complicated discussion, one that I am no expert on, so we won’t go there. The skin however, is another story.

Here’s the thing. You need to eat nutrients to build a healthy skin and body. Nutrients like essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins are abundant in a whole foods diet. Notice that sugar, carbohydrates, artificial colors and flavors are not on that essential list.

Once you have eaten something yummy like dark green leafies, salmon, blueberries, or pastured butter, your body needs to digest and absorb that nutrition. If you don’t digest well, you can’t access those nutrients. If you have increased intestinal permeability AKA Leaky Gut, you can’t absorb those nutrients either.

Several skin issues are associated with poor digestion:

  • Acne~ leaky gut, constipation
  • Rosacea~ SIBO, H. pylori infection
  • Psoriasis~ autoimmune, leaky gut
  • Eczema~ food sensitivities especially dairy, gluten

Unless you live off the grid or under a rock, you’ve probably heard the term “microbiome”. It refers to the collective population of microbes living in and on our body, skin included.

Basically, our bodies serve as mobile farms for 3-5 POUNDS of microbes. When this microbiome is normal and healthy, the rest of our body is normal and healthy. This includes our mood and our skin. (Yep, gut health appears to affect depression and anxiety too.)

It appears that certain gut flora play a BIG role in inflammation, which is known to be a major player in skin issues. Curiously, there is some recent research that indicates systemic inflammation may actually be COMING FROM the skin! In other words, taking good care of your skin will keep you from aging.

There is a ton of research underway on the microbiome now, so hopefully we will learn more in the next few years.

A few things you can do now to support your digestion AND your skin include:

Taking bitters like dandelion, yellow dock, or artichoke before meals. Among other things, bitters stimulate bile production, helping fat digestion. Dandelion IS A SUPERFOOD!!

Eat in a relaxed environment. Seriously! You’ve heard the phrase Fight or Flight? The opposite is Rest and Digest. You don’t actually digest your food unless you are in a relaxed state. Slow down and chew your food for Pete’s sake!

Drink bone broth. For real. Its way more than just chock full of collagen, which happens to be super trendy in skin care right now. Its also filled with easily digested amino acids that may help to repair a leaky gut. Clients have asked me for years what is the best food to eat for healthy skin. BONE BROTH. There, I said it again.

Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Google it.

Eat healthy fats like avocado, fresh flax seeds, walnuts, coconut oil (eat it, don’t wear it), pastured butter and pastured meats. Just eat real food #jerf.

If you need help with your digestion, see your doctor. If you need help with your skin, see us at Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies in Providence, RI.

Aaaand here are more adorable kittens. Just because 🙂

Photo by Pixabay on

8 Reasons Why You Need to Start Dry Brushing Your Skin Right Now

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One of the best things you can incorporate into your health and beauty routine is dry brushing. Not only will the brushing gently exfoliate dull dry skin, allowing better penetration of moisturizer, it can also give your immune system a big boost.

When done properly (gentle upward strokes, towards the heart, focusing on inner parts of joints: where lymph glands are most concentrated) dry brushing goes way beyond beauty. The upward movement (always toward the heart) stimulates the flow of lymph. Our lymphatic system is like the body’s garbage removal highway, and is a major part of the immune system. Lymph carries away metabolic waste, bacteria, viruses, excess fluid and all kinds of other gunk the body doesn’t need anymore. Unlike the blood (heart), the lymph has no pump, and relies on muscle movement, gravity, and osmotic pressure (via deep breathing) to flow. Dry brushing can boost that flow!

Dry brushing also stimulates peripheral circulation (surface blood flow). Not only can this help speed healing of damaged tissue and improve scars, but it brings oxygen and nutrients resulting in glowing skin.

Feeling crappy and under the weather? Dry brush.

Do you have swollen ankles? Dry brush.

Heavy, tired feeling legs? Dry brush.

Over indulged at that party last night? Dry brush.

Dry itchy winter skin? Dry brush.

Puffy eyes? VERY GENTLY brush the sides of the neck and under the chin, all the way down to the collarbone.

Headache? Drink plenty of lemon water, have some magnesium and dry brush!

Have you ever tried dry brushing? Let us know in the comments. Sign up for our newsletter here, and follow us on Facebook for lots more helpful skin care tips.

Dark under eye circles or raccoon genes?

First, identify the kind of dark circle:

Does it get better, then get worse?

Does it stay the same color all the time?

Does it have a yellowish undertone?

Does it look like you have a black eye? With some purple and blue

Is it accompanied by puffiness?

All of the above???

Does it Get better then get worse?
If the darkness of your dreaded circles fluctuates, you may need to look
seriously at getting more regular sleep. This means shutting off that
iPhone, computer, and TV about an hour before bed. Seriously! Gazing at
electronic screens tires the muscles in your eyes, and can contribute to
dryness, eyestrain, and inhibits melatonin production, which you need for
deep sleep. There is a reason they call it Beauty Sleep.
What to do about it? Add a pinch of sea salt to your water every
day. Real sea salt, NOT table salt! Holistically, the eyes reflect the
health of your kidneys, and adrenals. Not enough sleep = higher cortisol
(adrenals) production. Sea salt or Himalayan salt contain trace minerals
that our bodies use up under stress. And who doesn’t have stress?? Consider
a daily dose of magnesium as well.

Does it stay the same color all the time?
You can probably blame your parents for this one! Genetics determines the
color of your skin, and deeper skin tones have more likelihood of this kind
of circle. Excess sun exposure will make it worse over time.
What to do about it? Topical preparations like retinol and vitamin
C have been shown to reduce this kind of pigmentation. Topical brightening
serums containing arbutin, licorice, and mulberry can be helpful when used
regularly. Lets not forget the SPF shall we?

Does it have a yellowish undertone?
Anytime there is a yellow tone in the skin, holistically this indicates a
sluggish liver. Yellow with brown may reflect a sluggish bowel.
What to do about it? A detox may be in order here! Generally
any “detoxification” really means you need to look at how you are nourishing
yourself, so cut the processed “foods” and load up on the dark green leafies
and healthy fats. Again, a little sea salt every day can help to provide
trace minerals for healthy liver and bowel function. Yellow dock, nettles,
and dandelion can be your best buds for this.

Does it look like you have a black eye?
Um, have you been out brawling? If not, this is what we call an allergic
shiner, and you guessed it, indicates allergies. This could mean
environmental allergies, like hay fever or mold, but it could also mean food
sensitivities. The most likely culprits are wheat, dairy, corn, soy and
Sometimes people tell me that everyone in their family has these, so it
can’t be a food issue. Well, actually, sometimes your whole family is
sensitive. These kinds of food issues have a genetic component. Try
cutting them out completely for a while, and see what happens with your
circles. I often see gluten (wheat) as the culprit in my practice.

Is it accompanied by puffiness?
Have you been out drinking? Not only will alcohol mess with your Beauty
Sleep, it stresses your liver, increases insulin resistance, and slows down
lymphatic flow, often resulting in a lovely pair of marching dark circles.
What to do about it? Keep a couple of teaspoons in your fridge, and
when you wake up with dark puffs, gently rock the chilled spoons over your
eyes. This stimulates lymphatic flow, and constricts swollen tissue. Feels
pretty good too. Follow it up with a dose of niacinamide, dandelion, and
don’t forget that pinch of sea salt in your water! This is where the
classic cucumber slices work as well.

All of the above???
Go take a vacation! Sounds like you may have been abusing yourself for too
long. Adequate sleep, real food, nourishing botanicals like nettles and
dandelion, trace minerals, and a long walk in nature may be just what your
Esthetician ordered.

Thanks for reading! I am a licensed Esthetician (skin care specialist) and
owner of Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies, a holistic skin care practice
and acne clinic in Providence RI. I hope some of this will be of help to