It's weird. Although my face isn't naturally dry, the skin that's on the rest of my body can never get enough coconut oil, shea butter or sweet almond oil (my personal favorite moisturizers). And my scalp? I washed it and deep conditioned it right before I got my latest rounds of box braids in, but three days into them, my scalp was lookin' like the Sahara.
For years, I used to get so irritated because, it seemed like no matter what I did, I was going to be able to write "dry" on some body part. Also, a few hours into my day and my scalp was going to have flakes, no matter how much I pampered it. But lately, I've realized that in order for my skin to get the hydration that it needs, it's not enough to put moisture-rich products on it; I also need to drink more water than I tend to, to take an oil supplement (my personal faves are evening primrose oil and flaxseed oil), and get some foods that are proven to moisturize my skin and hair into my system.
If you have the same problem that I do, these are some of the foods that will get your skin, scalp and hair back into a good hydration balance. My top 10 are as follows.
I'd be shocked if you didn't grow up having a bowl of oatmeal, at least some of the time. Good thing too because oats are considered to be one of the healthiest grains on the planet. That makes perfect sense considering the fact that a half a cup will give you 191 percent manganese, 41 percent phosphorus, 39 percent thiamin (B1), 34 percent magnesium and 24 percent copper of the daily intake level of these nutrients that your body needs (it's a good source of iron and fiber too). Oats also contain avenanthramides to lower your blood pressure.
As far as your skin goes, colloidal oatmeal is the way to go. It's basically fine oats that are boiled to the point of becoming an extract so that your skin is able to get all of the nutrients that will keep it soft and smooth. You can purchase this type of oatmeal in the form of a powder or as a soap. Or, if you'd prefer to use the raw oats that are already in your house, treat your dry skin, psoriasis or eczema by pouring a cup of oats and 10 drops of lavender essential oil into your running bathwater. Make sure the water is not too hot (hot water can dry you out too) and soak in the combo for no more than 30 minutes. You'll get out and immediately feel the difference.
2. Herbal Tea
If you're like me and you think that the best comparison to water, taste-wise, is that it's a lot like "wet air", add a little bit of excitement by having some herbal tea. There is absolutely not enough time or space to get into all of the ways that different herbs can benefit your body. But, if you're trying to figure which ones are the best for your hair and skin specifically, here are the ones that I recommend.
- Nettle Leaf maintains skin tone and fights premature greying.
- Oatstraw improves skin texture and strengthens hair follicles.
- Hibiscus contains omega-3 fatty acids and natural alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to increase the elasticity in your skin as well as your hair.
- Matcha has Vitamin K that will increase blood circulation and chlorophyll to protect your skin and hair cells.
- Dandelion provides liver support so that toxins are removed from your skin's pores and your hair's follicles.
- Chamomile contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties that improve the appearance of psoriasis, eczema and acne scars, along with antioxidants that improve cell damage as it relates to your hair.
- Burdock Root has phenolic acid, luteolin and quercetin in it—all of which are antioxidants that detoxify your system so that your hair and skin cells remain healthy and strong.
Hair Moisture Tip: If you decide to use herbal tea as a hair rinse, add a little bit of honey. Honey is a humectant; this means that it will pull moisture from the air and keep your locks super soft and conditioned.
3. Citrus Fruit
Citrus fruit is one of the greatest sources of Vitamin C that there is. That automatically means that when you decide to peel an orange, cut into a grapefruit or drink some detox water that contains lemon or lime, you are consuming loads of antioxidants. Some other good things that come from citrus fruit include the fact that they are a great source of fiber, they contain flavonoids (plant compounds) that promote heart health, and potassium that does all sorts of things, including lowering your risk of high blood pressure and strokes.
Because citrus fruit contains somewhere between 80-90 percent water, it's an excellent way to hydrate your skin. Plus, citrus fruit also contains ascorbic acid that builds collagen in your skin and hair, along with Vitamin C to reduce uneven pigmentation.
(If you're a fan of infused water, try out this refreshing rainbow citrus infused water recipe.)
Another food that has over 90 percent of water in it are cucumbers. Cucumbers contain protein and fiber (1 gram), along with sugar and sodium (2 grams) per serving (cucumbers have Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and manganese in them too). Cucumbers also have a lot of antioxidants and micronutrients that help to manage your blood pressure, keep you regular, improve your gut health, strengthen your bones (thanks to the Vitamin K that's in them) and regulate diabetes (if that is an issue for you).
If you eat a cup of cucumber cubes, the ascorbic acid and caffeic acid in them will prevent water retention so that water will flow freely throughout your body. Cucumbers also contain silica, a mineral that reduces eye puffiness and inflammation. Silica, along with the water that's in cucumbers, can help to increase your hair's elasticity as well.
Skin Acne Tip: Slice a couple of cucumbers and rub them directly onto your pimples or acne scars in order to soothe the inflammation and reduce the appearance of marks.
Although we were taught that tomatoes are a fruit, a lot of us tend to forget that. It's a fruit that made the list because if you cut up even just one and put it into your salad, you'll be getting 40 percent of the Vitamin C that your body requires each and every day. Tomatoes also have the antioxidant lycopene in them; we all need this in order to strengthen our vision. Tomatoes also contain fiber to keep us regular and properties to protect our skin from sun damage (click here to read a great study on how tomatoes are also helpful for diabetes management).
Tomatoes are your skin and hair's friend because they have vitamins A, B, C and E. These all work together to make your skin supple while reducing breakage and excessive shedding of your tresses. Something else that tomatoes do is boost the production of collagen so that your skin looks "plumper" and your hair is more manageable.
Hair Mask Tip: A mixture of one tomato and two tablespoons of castor oil, applied to your scalp for 1-2 hours, will increase blood circulation, pamper hair follicles and increase hair growth. (Don't forget to thoroughly rinse it out with cool water in order to seal your cuticles.)
6. Olive Oil
When it comes to the kinds of oils that you should cook with, not all are created equal. As far as the oils that you should absolutely avoid, canola, corn and vegetable oil top the list. On the flip side, an oil that is good for you is olive oil. It contains a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid that protects your body from cancer, antioxidants to reduce your cholesterol levels, anti-inflammatory properties and ingredients that can help to keep type-2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease at bay.
Your skin and hair will love olive oil because of the antioxidants and hydrating squalene (a natural organic compound) that deeply penetrates your pores and follicles. (If you want to know the best kind of olive oils to use, check out "The Best Olive Oils, According to People Who Consume a Lot of It".)
Skin Exfoliation Tip: Mix one-part sea salt and one-part olive oil to create a scrub. Gently massage your clean damp skin with the solution to remove dead skin cells and ultimately even skin tone.
7. Sunflower Seeds
If you like to snack on sunflower seeds, you are doing wonders for your health, whether you realize it or not. The high amounts of selenium, magnesium and Vitamin E make these kinds of seeds good for your heart. Sunflower seeds are also great when it comes to treating inflammation and reducing symptoms that are related to asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Something else that these seeds do is fight off free radicals, detox your system and, thanks to all of the magnesium that's in them, sunflower seeds can even help to reduce the intensity of headaches.
The Vitamin E that's in sunflower seeds makes it a food that's a fat-soluble antioxidant. What that basically means is these seeds will help to keep your cells healthy. In fact, a cup of sunflower seeds will give you 90 percent of the daily amount of Vitamin E that you need. If you want skin that is youthful and glowing, and hair that has strong follicles, sunflower seeds will definitely help to get you there.
For starters, salmon contains something that all of us need a consistent amount of—omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. We need these acids in order to decrease inflammation and lower your blood pressure. Salmon is also a wonderful source of protein (something our hair definitely needs). Another wonderful thing about salmon is it's basically an edible B-complex; it also has potassium, selenium and the antioxidant astaxanthin that protects the heart, prevents skin damage and gives your skin a youthful appearance.
The other good thing about salmon and the omega-3s is the fact that it lubricates your scalp and skin so that you have less brittle hair and dry skin after having it a couple of times a week.
9. Bone Broth
Bone broth is the result of simmering the bones and connective tissue of meat. You can purchase some, usually on the soup aisle of your local grocery store. Or, you can make your own. The reason why you should consider consuming bone broth is it can do wonders for your system. Bone broth is loaded with protein; it can remineralize teeth; it strengthens immunity; shortens the lifespan of a cold; builds muscle; fights inflammation and is definitely a source of hydration. The more fluid that is in your system, the better and, because bone broth gives you electrolytes, it's another way to give your skin and hair the moisture that it needs.
By the way, if you're wondering if there is somewhat of a vegetarian alternative for bone broth, indeed there is. You can click here to learn more about it.
10. Red Wine
Let's end this on a super high note, shall we? If you're looking for another reason to enjoy (no more than) 1-1 ½ glasses of wine a day, moisturizing your skin and hair is another. Red wine has antioxidants to boost your immune system, increase your brain power, lower your cholesterol and resveratrol that will add to your longevity.
Something else that's pretty cool about red wine is the fact that the flavonoids and antioxidants in red wine will produce more of the fibrous structural protein keratin to replenish your hair and skin and fight off free radicals. Red wine also contains polyphenols that will help to prevent cell oxidation. And, of course, red wine's got plenty of water to hydrate your skin and hair from the inside out.
Hair Rinse Tip: If you add a cup of red wine to freshly washed hair and let it sit for 15-20 minutes and do this bi-weekly for two months, you should see a significant reduction in hair shedding and overall hair loss. Yep, you can literally pour red wine all over you and be all the better for it. Enjoy!
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