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Feed your skin

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The newest cutting-edge skincare takes its inspiration from your local greengrocer. And there’s not a homemade avocado mask in sight…

It’s an old adage that we are what we eat. Of all the food trends, from raw to macrobiotic, it is superfoods that have truly earned their health-giving reputation. The mere word ‘superfood’ is responsible for the surge in blueberry consumption worldwide and it’s why we consult the orac scale (the measurement of the oxygen radical absorption capacity in foods) before making our super salads. Now the latest research from skincare labs is that superfoods can also transfer their powerful qualities to skincare and revolutionise your complexion.

Do superfoods equal super skin?

At the core of this new skincare revolution are the antioxidants that are found in superfoods such as berries, dark green vegetables and nuts. Antioxidants are key because they help to neutralise free radicals – the unstable molecules that cause wrinkles on our skin when it is exposed to the atmosphere. Antioxidants also help protect against the second blow to our skin caused by unhealthy vices such as junk food, smoking and sun exposure, which can also cause ageing free radicals to form. It’s these free radicals that burden our skin, causing blemishes and signs of ageing from the stress of coping with it all.

“Antioxidants in skincare work by neutralising those free radicals,” says Dr Nicholas Perricone, a distinguished LA-based dermatologist and nutritionist, and one of the first to discover the power of superfoods. “We need that antioxidant protection barrier to keep our skin youthful.”

Dr Perricone’s new 14-product strong range, Super, which draws on a number of superfoods to help restore vitality to your skin, is at the centre of the food-meets-beauty innovation. Supermodel Legs, £37, uses the stimulating properties of capsaicin, derived from chilli peppers, to help invigorate the skin and bring a glow to even the most sunlight starved limbs.

Perricone’s O-Mega Moisture Restorative Cream, £29.50, uses another more unusual ingredient called chia, which is causing a buzz in both the health and beauty worlds for its ultra-moisturising properties. “Chia seeds are the most exciting new superfood I’ve come across recently,” says Dr Perricone. “Chia seed oil improves the skin’s barrier function, ensuring moisture is locked in and skin remains supple.”

Skin infusions

The ancient Chinese guzzled green and white tea by the gallon for their antioxidant properties. Now the anti-ageing power of tea is being harnessed for the skin in the A Perfect World range from Origins. “White tea is legendary for its potent antioxidant properties,” says Dr Lieve Declercq, Origins’ global spokesperson for plant physiology and molecular biology. “Because our skin has the most exposure to environmental free radicals, it’s the part of our body that needs the highest level of antioxidant protection.”

The efficacy of white tea hasn’t gone unnoticed by other naturally inspired brands either. Neal’s Yard’s White Tea Toning Eye Gel, £22.50, works to soothe puffy eyes and A’kin’s White Tea & Aloe Vital Hydration Gel Crème, £22, makes use of tea to hydrate and protect. We’d never have predicted the modest cuppa could make such a pertinent contribution to skincare, but we’re happy to reap its rewards.

Of all the antioxidant-rich superfoods, it is açai (pronounced as-sai-yee) that has beauty insiders the most excited by its skin-saving virtues. Harvested from the Brazilian rainforest, this berry is a powerful weapon against damaging free radicals because it is packed with the antioxidant compound anthocyanin – most famous for being in red wine. It is the key ingredient in new product Açai Damage-Correcting Moisturizer, £37, from Kiehl’s which uses this mysterious fruit to repair damaged proteins in the blood vessel walls – leading to firmer more taut skin.

But Açai is not the only anthocyaninrich product on the superfood block. The last few years have seen a plethora of medical studies lauding the healing properties of the pomegranate. This is credited with the ability to lower cholesterol and prevent cancer as well as help to repair skin. Greek brand Korres has harnessed this blood-red liquor in its pore-refining Pomegranate Tonic Lotion, £14, that helps to strengthen skin and protect it from the environment by depositing antioxidants across the forehead, chin and nose.

Taste of the exotic

Aside from the fruit in your kitchen, herbs and spices can also have a positive effect on your skin. It was only three years ago, in 2009, that Michigan University scientists uncovered turmeric’s antioxidant compound curcuminoid – noting its incredible anti-inflammatory properties that prevent scarring on the skin’s collagen layers. The standout weapons are Darphin’s Melaperfect Anti Dark Spot Treatment, £57, and Jurlique’s balancing Day Care Cream, £27.50, but Clarins is the first to include the super-spice in its entire Daily Energizer range. “Turmeric was traditionally used in Indian medicine to treat digestive and anti-inflammatory problems. But the latest research has revealed that its powerful antioxidant benefits protect the skin from oxidative stress too,” says Dr Lionel de Benetti, head of research and development at Clarins.

“There is a perfect synergy between superfoods and skincare,” says Dr Perricone. “I’ve always said beauty is from the inside out and outside in.” At last, it seems, the skincare world is catching on.

Picture credit: Rex Features

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