Submit your skincare questions to Dr. Agnes, CEO of Herborium and natural medicine expert
Eating the RIGHT kinds of fat is essential for optimal health as well as good skin tone. Most of our diet is full of too much saturated fat and not enough of the essential fats that we call essential oils. The essential oils are those that promote clear and healthy skin and are also good for your heart.
Saturated and mono-unsaturated fats are not necessary in your diet; the polyunsaturated fats or oils are essential for your health and to maintain youthful, radiant and healthy looking skin.
The polyunsaturated oils provide two essential fats: Omega 6 (linoleic acid) and Omega 3 (alpha-linoleic acid). If these essential fatty acids are processed using heat (as fried and cooked or baked at high temperatures) they change to trans-fats and liberate free radicals which can damage skin and local tissues. These transformed fats are not good for us and interfere with liver metabolism, increase the likelihood of heart disease and inhibit our immune system. So avoid processed or fried foods, which change the structure of these essential fatty acids (EFA).
The body cannot manufacture EFA, so they must be supplied by the diet. EFA are necessary for the proper functioning of all tissues and for tissue repair, especially the skin since the EFAs hold skin cells together in a water tight seal and retain moisture.
The best source of EFA is fish (among the best is salmon and herring) and flaxseeds (linseed). Also a diet high in nuts and seeds, especially walnuts and pumpkin seeds will help to supply the necessary EFAs.
Taking Omega 3, as a supplement such as cod-liver oil will help to support the proper function of the brain, vision, facilitate learning and prevent mood swings. These oils also help to control blood cholesterol, improve immunity, reduce inflammation (also in skin), moisten dry skin and support the body's water metabolism.
Omega 3 (alpha-linoleic acid) is converted by the body into gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and may then proceed to the pathway responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandins. These prostaglandins keep blood thin (inhibit platelet aggregation), lower blood pressure, aid water metabolism, decrease inflammation, improve nerve and immune function and help to balance blood sugar. This group of fats is present in seeds and their oils. The best source of seed oils are pumpkin, hemp, sunflower, safflower, sesame, corn, walnut, soybean and wheatgerm oil. Evening primrose oil and borage oil are the best-known sources of Gamma-linoleic acid and may be taken as supplements.
Both these two fats Omega 6 and Omega 3 (linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid) are essential for healthy skin since they work together to keep skin smooth and soft and help the cells to retain the appropriate amount of water. Adequate EFAs also help to reduce the dehydrating effects of heat, wind and other environmental factors.
If you have a deficiency of EFA the health of your skin deteriorates, the skin becomes dehydrated, itchy, dry and inflamed and you will be more prone to skin infections. EFAs help wounds to heal more quickly (acne scars), strengthen capillary walls and prevent enlargement of sebaceous glands that in turn may become over active resulting in a higher chance for acne. EFA also help to balance hormones and increase blood flow to the skin.
To ensure an adequate intake of EFA in the diet eat plenty of fish, nuts, seeds and their oils. Have seeds ground up and sprinkled on your salads or into your cereals, even dip your fish or meat into the oil extracts. Make sure the nuts, seeds and oils are stored in air-tight containers to prevent them from turning rancid and producing damaging trans-fats. You may also take an EFA supplement.
USE THE "GOOD FATS" TO FEED YOUR SKIN
This mask nourishes skin and reduces inflammation. It can be used for all skin types but is especially good for dry, skin or acne damaged, scarred and sensitive skin. Evening primrose is rich in gamma linoleic acid and contains all the therapeutic properties of the essential fatty acids; and helps rebalance sebaceous secretions. Use the mask one a week or as desired.
Open the capsules of evening primrose and vitamin E and place the oils in a bowl. Add all the other ingredients except the rosewater. Add enough water to make a good mask consistency. The paste should be the consistency of chocolate icing on a cake, easy to spread but not "leaky". Apply the mask to a clean face and neck and leave to absorb for 20 minutes. Relax.
Rinse off with warm water and pat-dry delicately preferably with a cotton towel. Finish by toning your skin with light floral water such as rosewater.
Discard any remaining mask and make a fresh batch for each treatment.