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Can juicing help improve your skin?

Can drinking freshly pressed juice clear up a host of beauty bugbears? Stylist investigates...

Most of us tend to think of juicing – that is, the LA-born practice of rendering anything from kale to fennel to watercress into a murky green juice – as a habit of the scarily healthobsessed. You know, that rare breed of individual – celebrities or the super-fit – whose macrobiotic diets, culinary diligence and infinite knowledge of vitamin supplements put our restaurant-filled, Percy Pig-scoffing lives to shame. But we’re missing a trick, because not only does knocking back a cocktail of powerful nutrients in one drink give us a hit of antioxidants which boosts our health, consuming nutrient-rich vegetables in their purest form acts like a miracle cream for the skin, hair and nails too.

Recent research by St Andrews University highlighted the powerful effect of fruit and vegetables in our daily diets; volunteers who increased their consumption of fresh produce found that their skintone changed and ‘glowed.’ And it’s not just our skin that juicing can potentially improve; the increased vitamin content is widely reported to help with everything from hair growth and acne, to headaches and insomnia.

So could it be that juicing is the saviour of our beauty woes? And is it possible to stick to a strict regime of buying groceries, juicing, drinking and (laborious) washing up every day? Stylist recruited four volunteers, each with their own genuine beauty ailment. We equipped them with personalised juicing recipes from experts, Jason Vale (juicemaster.com) and Abigail James (abigailjames.com), as well as juicing machines and blenders from Philips, Dualit and Vitamix, to see if this could be the start of a juicing revolution. Here’s how they got on - and if you want to try the juicing craze yourself, here are each of their individual plans.

Anna Fielding, editor stylist.co.uk

Alcohol and exercise gave me a red rash

Skin complaint: Rosacea runs in my family and alcohol, exercise, spicy food and most other fun things make me flush and break out in a red rash.

Juicing prescription: Three days of only juice to start, followed by one juice in the morning and continuing to eat normally – supplemented by Udo’s Choice Oil, plus zinc and selenium tablets. Apples are key juice ingredients, known to help repair the blood vessels that cause rosacea, while ginger calms any aggressive outbreaks quickly.

WEEK 1

Of all the things you can do in the office to embarrass yourself, being sick is probably the worst. The second morning I had drunk a mix of apple, pear and fennel juice. I was clammy, had a headache and spasms of shaking nausea. I managed 10 minutes at my desk before running to the loo. I’d started the juicing the day before, with a relatively benign mango, orange and banana smoothie. I wasn’t supposed to be consuming anything but juice for three days. That had to stop and I went back to eating light meals. No change in my skin. Yet.

WEEK 2

“I’d really like the lamb, but it has fennel with it,” I said, browsing a menu. “But you love braised fennel,” said my boyfriend. No longer. Week 2 of juicing and I have become scared of fennel. Juiced fennel made me throw up again at work, right before a meeting. At this point I am only sticking with the juicing diet because I’m quite fond of the Stylist beauty team. Making the juice (and cleaning the juicer) takes up 40 minutes of my morning, I’m still turning red at the slightest provocation, especially after a run-in with some Australian shiraz.

WEEK 3

The juice only made me sick once this week, after I drank it on an empty stomach (I know I sound obsessed, but people were starting to raise their eyebrows and mouth “pregnant?” at me). My skin is beginning to get a little clearer too, though redness still abounds.

WEEK 4

Last night, I went out for a Turkish meal and ate a pickled pepper. It was a hot one, but, as I was sweating from my eyes and downing yoghurt dip in an attempt to cool down my poor mouth, my boyfriend said casually: “You don’t look as red as you normally would.” It’s true. I looked like a normal person who has just eaten something insanely hot. I didn’t look like a boiled ham in a dress. This is progress.

Conclusion

It’s worked, I think. I am clearer-eyed, free of breakout spots and less prone to flushing. I am also sick to the back teeth of particular combinations of exotic fruit and full of guilt about food miles. I’m not sure I’ll keep it up, though – maybe this is something best left to bored socialites?

Follow Anna's plan here

Sarah Martin, account manager, Emerald Street

I always hide my dry, brittle nails in shame

Skin complaint: I always hide my brittle, dry nails in shame, and I’ve tried everything under the sun to make them look less unsightly.

Juicing prescription: A juice for breakfast and lunch, followed by a normal dinner. Day 6 or 7 must be a juice-only day, with a light dinner – miso soup for example. Juices to contain ingredients like vitamin E-rich avocado which rehydrates the layers between the nail, and vitamin C which helps rebuild their structure.

WEEK 1

I’m terrified of the juices. Chard, kale and parsley? It sounds horrific, but I’m surprised by how nice they taste. Preparing the juice and washing up afterwards is a nightmare in the mornings, especially if I decide to go to the gym at 6.30am – and wake my flatmates up with the loud whir of the juicer. I learnt a hard lesson this week too: there’s a difference between a Japanese daikon radish and a parsnip. I hadn’t realised my mistake until I was mid-juicing and the sour, rotten taste was too much to bear. After a week of juicing, I’m much more aware of what else I’m consuming – and have even been turning down office treats. But my nails haven’t improved just yet.

WEEK 2

Already, it feels like I’ve been juicing all my life. It’s become the norm to get up 40 minutes earlier to prepare the juices. Two I like, enjoy even, but the other two, I drink quickly while holding my nose. They all require a long list of ingredients which make them quite costly, I'm spending roughly £30-40 per week. Still, I am starting to see some positive effects – my skin looks healthier, somehow brighter, and my spots appear to be finally clearing up. It’s a little early to see the effect on my brittle nails, but they do look shinier.

WEEK 3

Hurrah! My nails are growing like daisies and, remarkably, without any breaking. At the risk of sounding shallow, I am absolutely overjoyed. The juicing has become part of my routine now – although it’s not exacly what you crave when hungover. Another tip: save the full day of juice detoxing for a weekend, it’s tough at work when everyone’s enjoying a Pret baguette.

WEEK 4

I’m pleased this is the final week of juicing. I can’t wait for a lie-in and more space in my fridge. I do feel better though, and my nails are strong and healthy looking for the first time in years. I'm sure my colleagues will be glad I’ve finished boring them about juicing.

Conclusion

I’m happy to report, juicing has been a success for me. I have proper, incredible nails now. I definitely think the juice test has been worth my while, even if it has meant getting to grips with a new daily routine. I’ll keep at it, although realistically it will be more like three or four juices a week rather than 14.

Try Sarah's Juicing Plan

Lucy Foster, associate editor, ShortList magazine

My skin is extremely dry, flaky and tight

Skin complaint: My skin is extremely dry. Every month I’ll get a raised rash (what I charmingly call ‘dehydration scum’) all over my face. It’s flaky, tight, ugly and sometimes doesn’t shift for two weeks. Scrubs, E45 and water are my only defence.

Juicing prescription: Two juices a day that are rich with omega-3s to nourish and vitamin A to promote repair, and Viridian 100% Organic Ultimate Beauty Oil.

WEEK 1

“I think I’m going to be sick,” I whimper to my boyfriend. It’s 8am, and I’ve just had a pint of green sludge. This is the second day my morning juice has made me ill. The coconut ‘beauty oil’ is the worst bit – it’s like drinking vegetable Malibu first thing. I hate Malibu. When I get to work, I Google ‘green juice nausea’. Sure enough, tales of juicing woes fill the screen. Apparently, the human body needs a slow introduction to this kind of vitamin assault.

WEEK 2

Things are looking up. I sip the juice rather than knocking it back, which seems to help the sickness. I’m beginning to see a difference in my skin too – it’s smoother around the bridge of my nose, and brighter. It also shines, but in a really healthy way. I could actually pass as a wholesome person. One who hangs my washing out in meadows to dry.

WEEK 3

I am exhausted. Constantly ferrying vegetables and slicing fruit is one thing, but trying to fit that around my morning gym habit and a hectic evening schedule of film screenings and restaurant reviews is impossible. On the plus side, I’ve become a rabid celery and beetroot consumer and am also more mindful of what I put in my body – my coffee intake is waning and I’m trying not to drink alcohol. And my skin? Glowing.

WEEK 4

I went to my parents’ house for the Jubilee weekend and had to make do with a handheld blender – it was less juice, more mush. I’m now back to juicing, but have a hen do in Liverpool – and a spa isn’t on the itinerary. I wonder if anyone will mind if I sit in the corner drinking liquefied cucumber rather than champagne?

Conclusion:

It was very hard. Not so much the drinking of the juice, but the impact it has on your daily routine. My skin, however, looked lovely. I can’t remember it being so smooth, bright and dewy – and despite some big nights out, the acute dehydration did not return. Juicing is something I want to continue – maybe not in the industrial scale of the past month, but I now know that the right raw foods can nourish my skin.

Try Lucy's juicing plan here

Amy Adams, sub editor (maternity cover), Stylist

I get bouts of spots that stay for ages

Skin complaint: Acne seems too strong a label, but I suffer from bouts of spots that stay for ages and slapping on creams hasn’t helped.

Juicing prescription: Three days of juicing, followed by one juice in the morning supplemented with Udo’s Choice Oil plus zinc and selenium tablets. Key ingredients include blueberries – high in vitamin A, they help to regulate sebum levels.

WEEK 1

I’m so excited by my new juicer and blender I don’t fully take in the fact I’m to have juice instead of food for three days. It hits home when I meet friends for lunch and nibble dried apricots (fruit’s allowed) while they feast on burgers. By Monday I have a dull headache and don’t feel like the sharpest sub on the bench. Still, the total immersion has given my regular diet an overhaul. Now I’m back to solids for lunch and dinner, I find myself opting for salads and snacking on Brazil nuts.

WEEK 2

The novelty has worn off and the beetroot and avocado juice is proving particularly hard to stomach at 7am – the avocado turns into lumpy mulch no matter how long I blend it for so I eat it separately instead. On the plus side I’ve had a few comments about how good my skin is looking and haven’t had any spots for a week. I feel more alert and positive too. This could be because I’m still eating better. There’s no way I’m cancelling out all that chopping, juicing and washing up with a Lola’s cupcake – or even half of one.

WEEK 3

Each morning I add spoonfuls of lecithin, Clear Boost Skin powder and Udo’s Oil to my juice. I’m also meant to ditch regular tea for a sour-tasting herbal brew of red clover and burdock root. This is a step too far, but I have cut back to two cups of tea a day. And I’m still a slave to the juicer. My hands might bear the scars (I keep cutting myself blearily chopping) but my skin is blemish free.

WEEK 4

The excesses of the Jubilee weekend have taken their toll – prosecco equals giant spot, it seems. I spend the rest of the week staying faithful to the diet and the prospect of Cheerios and an extra 30 minutes in bed tomorrow buoys me more than I’d have thought.

Conclusion:

According to a Dermalogica scan my most urgent skin problem is dehydration, not spots, so juices can only help so much – I need to look at the products I’m using too. While the diet wasn’t a miracle solution, it did make me pay attention to my skin. I hope to carry on juicing, but perhaps not at 7am daily.

Try Amy's juicing plan here

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