Skincare routine of a nutritionist
For most, a ‘skincare routine’ involves a twice daily, cleanse, tone and moisturise ritual. For nutritionists like Rachel Bartholomew, however, ‘skincare routine’ often takes on a slightly different meaning! All those years of learning about the impact of diet on every single aspect of health mean that a nutritionist’s skincare routine must inevitably start with what you eat. So here’s a sneak peek into what goes into a nutritionist’s day to support healthy skin:
1. Water - Start the day as you mean to go on with a mug of hot water and a slice of lemon. You need to drink at least 1.5 litres of fresh filtered water daily and getting a mug in early is the best way to cleanse your system to begin your day. Water keeps your skin cells plump and taut, supports healthy digestion and elimination and flushes out toxins too. Years ago, I invested in a glass water bottle that I fill in the morning and take everywhere with me so there’s no excuse to not get my daily fill. The original bottle is long gone, but it’s been replaced and the habit has stayed with me. It’s probably the single best investment I’ve made in my health and a vital part of my skincare routine.
2. Essential fat mix – This is something I started to make when my children were tiny and another good habit that stuck. I grind equal quantities of sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds in a food processor and then store this powder in an airtight glass container in the fridge. I’ll add a spoonful into our morning smoothie, or as a crunchy topping to yoghurt & berries, breakfast porridge or granola. Underneath the outermost epidermis and dermis layers of your skin, there is a subcutaneous layer of fat that adds extra cushioning and protection, so this fat mix helps to make sure you’re replenishing this daily. Fat is also a crucial part of your skin cell membranes, and helps to keep them supple, smooth and retain moisture too.
3. Extra protein and an avocado – I’ll always add a tablespoon of organic pea protein and a small avocado into my morning smoothie. Your skin is in a constant state of rebuilding and repair, and every 6-10 weeks a new skin cycle starts, which needs consistent nourishment with high quality protein. Avocado contains beneficial fats, vitamins C & E, and antioxidant-rich carotenoids – a super food for your skin.
4. My skin saviours – I’d love to say that these super skin foods all feature in my diet without fail every single day but I can’t hold my hand up to that. Some appear daily and others might feature only once, but for my skin’s sake, I’ll try to make sure I get them in every week. Nuts and seeds, chia seeds, oily fish, raw cacao nibs, coconut water, flaxseed oil, turmeric powder, fresh turmeric, fresh ginger, cinnamon, kefir, avocado, papaya, citrus fruits, butternut squash, leafy greens, broccoli, onions and garlic. I take my skin supplements daily though. These include vitamin C (to support collagen & elastin production), CoQ10 (protective antioxidant for skin, levels of which decrease with age), Maritime bark extract & citrus & rosemary extracts (strong antioxidant skin support), omega 3 fish oil & omega 6 starflower oil (essential fats to support hydration & healthy cell membranes).
5. Things your skin doesn’t like – Whilst it’s important to feed your skin with nourishing and protective nutrients, it’s also crucial to reduce or avoid diet and lifestyle factors that can damage your skin. Here’s the things I know my skin doesn’t like that I try to keep in check; burnt or fried foods, exercising on busy roads (exhaust fumes), excessive exposure to sun’s UV rays, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and refined sugar. Like oxidative stress, sugar is very damaging to skin, via a process called glycosylation, where excess sugar attaches to proteins and prevents them from functioning properly. Collagen and elastin are proteins that are easily damaged by glycosylation and the skin can become saggy and wrinkled. Sugar also interferes with the way the body uses vitamin C, which is more bad news for collagen and elastin.
6. Skincare do’s & don’ts – Thank goodness for my mum when it comes to skincare. She keeps me stocked up with natural skincare products for birthdays and Christmases every year, so I have no excuse on that front! I use an Espa cleanser, facial oil & moisturiser daily (but like everyone else, I still have those days when I can’t be bothered and go to bed without taking my make up off!). It’s best to choose natural products packaged in glass containers and that are free from synthetic fragrances, alcohol, parabens, SLS/ALS, (sodium/ammonium lauryl sulphate) formaldehydes, phthalates, petrochemicals, methylisothiazolinone, mineral oils, triclosan, harsh preservatives, toxic chemicals, microbeads and lanolin.