Teenage skin fixes

Foods, supplements and herbs for teenage skin issues

Skin problems such as acne can make life a misery for many a teenager. Fortunately, a balanced diet, nutritional supplements and some herbal remedies can help.

Healthy foods

“It can be tricky convincing teenagers that healthy food and drink choices will help them look and feel well,” says Julia Vearncombe, founder of natural skincare brand SkinGenius (skin-genius.co.uk). “With daily fast food temptations, how can we ensure they consume enough vitamins and minerals in their daily diet? For a clear complexion, teens need to feed their skin from within. Eating more fruit and veg will help with digestion, provide longer-lasting energy and a clear outlook, which are also a great help for studying and exams. A simple way to up their healthy food intake is cutting back on protein and carbohydrate sizes and adding more veg to their plate. Switching biscuits and crisps for a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts will help, as will adding fruit to their morning cereal and sprinkling seeds onto lunchtime salads. Swapping fizzy drinks for water or flavoured teas will quickly boost the skin’s condition and level out any sugar highs and lows.”

Natural foods and nutrients

“Natural foods are full of nutrients,” says Julia. “Berries are packed with antioxidants that help protect the skin and are extremely high in vitamin C. Essential fatty acids are found in fish, nuts and seeds. Eating a ‘rainbow’ of fruit and veg will ensure teens get a range of vital minerals and vitamins to keep them and their skin happy. Preparation is the key to success! Prepare lunches and snackpots the night before. It makes things much easier the next day, saves time and money and means they can walk past tempting food and snack stops with ease.”

Detoxifying herbs

“It can be hard enough navigating those teenage years without having the added burden of bad skin,” says Steve Kippax, a Western and Chinese herbalist, acupuncturist and the author of new book Health in Theory and Practice (£14.99, Aeon Books). “The liver is one of the main organs that helps, through its metabolic function, to ‘clean the blood’. Taking herbs such as burdock and dandelion help to encourage the liver to perform this detoxifying process more efficiently.”

Healing herbs

“For traditional septic spots (acne) then taking Cone Flower (Echinacea) and Wild Indigo (Baptisia) is a great combination which can be regarded as being akin to a herbal antibiotic,” says Steve. “Marigold (Calendula) tincture is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Dabbing this lotion onto septic spots helps to remove any infection and helps them to heal quicker. Cystic spots and lumps under the skin can be a sign of hormonal imbalance. For women, herbs such as Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus Castus) and Chinese Angelica (Angelica Sinensis) can help to regulate periods. If symptoms persist always seek the help of your healthcare professional.”

Hormonal help

“Teens face many different types of skin issues; the most common is acne,” says Charlotte Harrison, expert nutritionist with Spoon Guru (www.spoon.guru). “While acne can be caused by a whole host of different issues, hormones can play a massive role. Hormones tend to increase oil production which can clog pores and allow bacteria to grow. This causes the pore to become inflamed which creates a spot. Zinc and iodine are two nutrients to bear in mind as they help with skin repair such as scarring and wound healing. This is beneficial if you’ve suffered with acne, as the spots will heal quicker and be less likely to scar. Foods with high sources of zinc and iodine include eggs, fish, and seaweed.”

Water intake

“Drinking enough water is one of the most important things you can do to look after your skin,” says Charlotte. “Skin acts as an external barrier against foreign objects like bacteria. It flushes away toxins through sweating. Without enough water, the skin is unable to sweat and perform this function, so it’s recommended you drink around two litres a day.”

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