Forget the plastic surgery and expensive products. Natural skin care experts say the secret to wrinkle-free, supple skin is right in your kitchen.
By Denise Mann
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
For great natural skin care, it's time to say bye-bye Botox and hello ... blueberries?
The fountain of youth may actually be located in your kitchen, not your plastic surgeon's office.
"Through a three-tier approach involving diet, supplements, and creams, we can control the rate at which we age," says dermatologist Nicholas V. Perricone, MD. "And we can delay the need for surgical procedures, including facelifts, by 15 to 20 years -- if we even get them at all."
Here's a step-by-step guide to natural skin care using ingredients largely available in your own kitchen. For this information, WebMD turned to two leading experts on natural skin care. Nicholas Perricone, MD, is a clinical professor of medicine at Michigan State University and the author of The Perricone Prescription and The Wrinkle Cure: Unlock the Power of Cosmeceuticals for Supple, Youthful Skin. Deborah Chase is a health and beauty expert and the author of Fruit Acids for Fabulous Skin and The Medically-based No Nonsense Beauty Book.
Follow a Diet for Natural Skin Care
Try Perricone's three-day nutritional facelift to get omega-3 fatty acids vital for natural skin care:
For lunch and dinner, eat:
A green salad (making a dressing out of olive oil and lemon juice)
3-oz of broiled salmon or another cold water fish such as tuna or mackerel
Strawberries, raspberries and/or blueberries for dessert.
Fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, an important ingredient in natural skin care. A deficiency of omega-3s has been linked to a wide array of diseases as well as premature aging of the skin, Perricone says. "Blueberries, strawberries, cranberries and raspberries are all loaded with antioxidants which save cells from premature aging," he says.
For breakfast, Perricone suggests you "choose a sensible breakfast that is low in carbohydrates and sugars." Also drink 8-10 glasses of water a day to keep skin hydrated and supple.
After three days, this natural skin care diet "will make such a difference in your appearance that people will say, 'Wow!'" Perricone says. "You will look as if someone turned a lamp on your skin. Your pores will be tighter. Your dark circles go away and you will look like you were on vacation."
Here's why: "Inflammation is triggered by what we eat and sugar is the bad actor," says Perricone. "Anything that is sugar or rapidly converted to sugar (carbohydrates such as white rice, white breads or pasta) can attach to collagen and cause stiffness of skin and very old looking skin," he says. Collagen is a natural protein that forms connective tissues in the body.
Use Toners and Creams for Natural Skin Care
A facelift in a bottle. Sound too good to be true? It's not if you choose a natural skin care cream rich in DMAE (dimetheyaminoethanol), Perricone says. "If you apply it to your skin, it can enhance muscle tone -- which stops sagging -- and in just 30 minutes, your face is lifted," he says. Apply this natural skin care cream twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. "The longer you use the cream, the more pronounced the difference," he says. "It also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and protects the skin from the irritation that can cause wrinkles and age-related skin damage."
Also consider natural skin care creams with alpha lipoic acid. "It helps restore a healthy radiance to your skin. It also can tighten pores and diminish fine lines in just a few months," Perricone says. Another key ingredient in a natural skin care cream is vitamin C ester. "It is fat soluble and thus penetrates the skin at 10 times higher levels than vitamin C [without ester]," he says. "It will thicken skin, decrease fine lines and is a necessity for a youthful appearance."
Aside from creams, a toner is an important aspect of natural skin care, says health and beauty expert Deborah Chase.
Here's a recipe Chase suggests for your own natural skin care toner.
1 teaspoon of rosemary, dried
1 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine
Gently boil herbs with white wine for 10 minutes. Allow herbs to cool in white wine for one hour. Drain off herbs and discard. Keep the liquid and transfer the strained toner to a clean glass jar. Store in refrigerator for one week.
To use this natural skin care toner, dip a cotton ball in toner and dab on freshly washed skin before bed and in the morning. "It's refreshing, and it has anti-inflammatory properties. The alphahydroxy oils in wine encourage good healthy cell growth," Chase says. "Use it for any skin type except those parts of the skin that are dry and irritated."
Try Homemade Masks for Natural Skin Care
While you can go out and spend $100 on masks, facials and all sorts of natural skin care treatments, Chase says, "save your money." Instead, "try a cell renewal mask using ingredients you can find in your own kitchen."
It's great for dry skin, takes off the top layer of dead skin cells, and helps stimulate new cell growth, she tells WebMD.
Mask for Dry Skin
1 tablespoon of buttermilk.
1 egg yolk
teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of mayonnaise
"Stir -- but don't whip -- ingredients in a bowl," she explains. "Apply it to your face with a cotton ball, let it harden for 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse with cool water," she says. "You will see results immediately."
The natural skin care mask takes off the top layer of dead skin, she explains. "The top layer has a crepe-like, wrinkled appearance, so you will look less aged and more youthful when it is removed," she says.
Mask for Combination Skin
If you have combination skin -- some parts dry and some oily -- Chase suggests this natural skin care mask recipe to remove dead cells on the surface of your skin.
cup of mashed, seedless grapes
1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
"Mix them together into a paste," Chase says. Use a small, clean paintbrush to apply the paste. Keep it on for 20 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water followed by cool water. "Instantly, your skin tone will look more even and you will have a brighter, rosier, and fresher complexion."
Take Vitamins and Supplements for Natural Skin Care
Perricone suggests that you take a multivitamin every day containing vitamin C, as well as vitamin E, for natural skin care. These vitamins are strong antioxidants and may help prevent damage done by free radical molecules in the body. He also recommends taking 50 to 100 milligrams of alpha lipoic acid daily for natural skin care. "Underneath aging and age-related disease is low-grade inflammation," Perricone says. "So the best ways to decrease disease risk and slow the aging process is to take nutrients with powerful anti-inflammatory activity on a regular basis." Enter alpha lipoic acid. Alpha lipoic acid "is 400 times stronger than vitamins C and E combined," he says, so it's great for natural skin care. "Our skin is always getting inflamed by sun, weather, pollution, and products because it is our interface between the environment and our body, but alpha lipoic acid will bring inflammation down."
Finally, for good natural skin care Perricone recommends that you take 30 milligrams a day of the antioxidant coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ10). "Levels in the body decline due to age as well as excessive sunlight exposure, but reintroducing CoQ10 can help slow or even reverse the aging process," he says. "You are going to see your skin look more radiant in just a few weeks"
By trying these natural skin care treatments, you can save yourself thousands of dollars. Even better, you can get fresh-looking, healthy skin without pain or discomfort.
Published March 2003.
Medically Updated Oct. 2, 2006.
Sources: dermatologist Nicholas V. Perricone, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at Michigan State University in East Lansing and the author of "The Perricone Prescription" and "The Wrinkle Cure: Unlock the Power of Cosmeceuticals for Supple, Youthful Skin" and Deborah Chase, author of "Fruit Acids and Fabulous Skin" and "The Medically-based No Nonsense Beauty Book."
My only confusion is how to know where to find the specified supplements and how to know which toners and creams with the recommended "ingredients." They don't recommended ANY brands... So am I supposed to take my magnifying glass to the drug store and read the ingredients on all the countless creams and toners till find the right stuff???
Just what the hell IS perricone? Where do I find it??