We’ve all heard the key ingredients for good skin. Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, retinol - all the trending buzzwords that make us sound like a dermatologist when we drop them into conversation. The same goes for hair care: from Brazilian blow dries to keratin treatments. But it’s not just what we apply on the outside that makes a difference.
Our copywriter Lauren King caught up with nutritionist Jade Ellis to discuss how eating your skin and hair care is just as important as applying it. But before you start ingesting your moisturizer (please don’t) - we’re talking about food. And some of what’s on the menu may surprise you.
LK: Hi Jade, thanks so much for catching up with us. So let’s start with the question everyone wants an answer to: what are the best foods for hair and skin health?
JE: As much as a good, nourishing cleanser and moisturizer can support the health of our skin, the food we consume daily is just as important. What you fill your cupboards with and put in your fridge can make a huge difference to the health of your hair and skin. The cells that make up each strand of hair and our skin require a regular supply of key nutrients.
That said, my go-to foods for hair and skin health are…
Salmon, which is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and vitamin D. One of the building blocks of healthy skin is fatty acids, an essential part of the skin’s natural moisture barrier and all-round health.
Next, eggs - a healthy source of protein, vitamins B12 and D, and biotin - known as “the hair vitamin”.
Sweet potatoes are full of beta carotene, which helps stimulate collagen to boost hair growth. Eat in a soup or stew, or roast in the oven with olive oil and sea salt. My tip: fruits and vegetables rich in beta carotene tend to be red, orange or yellow in colour / color. Try eating squash, peppers, carrots, pumpkin and mango, too.
Blueberries are antioxidant-rich and a great source of vitamin C, one of the best vitamins for hair growth and healthy skin. Eat a handful of blueberries as a snack, or add to yogurt.
Avocados are incredibly nourishing, full of essential vitamins for hair and skin health: vitamins A, D, E and B6. Eat on toast, in a salad or blend to add creaminess to your morning smoothie.
Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein, omega 3-fatty acids, vitamin E, and Zinc, which are all excellent for supporting healthy hair and skin. Try adding a nut butter to porridge in the morning.
LK: Ok, adding all of the above to my shopping list! You mentioned biotin is known as “the hair vitamin”. Can you explain why this is and more about what it does?
JE: Biotin is also known as vitamin B7. It supports numerous processes related to the metabolism of fatty acids and is also necessary for tissue repair due to its role in cell signalling / signaling. That’s why a deficiency of biotin can lead to hair loss. Foods like egg yolks, legumes, mushrooms, broccoli, bananas, liver, avocados and nuts are all a great source of biotin you can introduce into your diet for strong, healthy hair*. Biotin is often found in ‘hair, skin and nails’ supplements, as it’s beneficial for all three.
LK: I’ve heard additional protein in your diet can make your hair feel thicker and stronger, too. Is this true?
JE: Yes, protein is critical for keeping your hair and skin healthy - it’s the building blocks of both.
Protein is full of amino acids, which create collagen in your body - essential for skin’s plumpness and elasticity, as well as hair strength. Our bodies cannot produce amino acids, so they must be sourced from nutritionally rich foods. It’s important to eat protein from different sources for variety, from animal proteins to plant proteins such as legumes and tofu. Try adding protein to every meal - a portion is around ¼ of your plate. It will benefit blood sugar balance, satiety, energy levels, weight management and the health of our hair and skin.
LK: Amazing, I’m going to try that this week. Can you recommend some plant-based proteins for those of us who don’t eat meat?
JE: Of course, there are so many options. Try legumes, eggs, nuts, nut butter, seeds, tofu, tempeh, edamame or quinoa. If you’re pescatarian, oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies are great, ticking both boxes for protein and healthy fats.
LK: What about specific vitamins that are good for hair and skin health, in case people want to try supplements to support?
JE: The best vitamins for hair growth and healthy skin are vitamins A, C, D, E and all 8 B vitamins. A multivitamin is great to fill the gaps in our diet to make sure we’re covering all bases when it comes to our nutrition.
If you’re looking for a more specific supplement, GROWTH PHASE features vitamins to balance nutrient deficiencies, adaptogens to reduce stress (a leading cause of hair loss). It also supports hormone levels and collagen production to speed up hair growth.
If you are prone to breakouts or pigmentation, SKIN FILTER contains beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A - a.k.a. retinol. This keeps skin clear, firm and healthy from the inside. It also contains vitamin C to brighten and boost collagen production. Try these alongside diet changes to really feel the difference.
LK: Anything we should avoid that can impact hair and skin health?
JE: It sounds a little dull, but steering clear or reducing sugar, processed foods and alcohol will be extremely helpful for the health of our hair and skin. All of the above are inflammatory and dehydrating for our bodies, which affects hair and skin. But all in moderation is fine.
LK: Any final words of wisdom?
JE: The best way to support hair and skin health is to eat a balanced diet, featuring a variety of vitamins, minerals and proteins. If anyone wants to find out more, you can book a Free Mini Health review with me to unpack your health goals, finding the foods and supplements to help get you there.
LK: Thank you, Jade!
Tap here to book in for a Mini Health Review with Jade Lauren Ellis DipNT, mBANT, CHNC.