No matter how many high quality hair and skincare products you buy, true beauty really is skin deep. The easiest way to ensure that your hair is glossy and your skin is radiant glow? Eating a well-balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and nutrients. Now yes, most of us know this and we faithfully munch on apples and open our minds to chia and flax seeds. But that morning cup of milk or giant pasta dinner could be undoing all your good food choice. Experts agree that certain foods and beverages thwart your efforts to have gorgeous hair and skin, so before you head to the grocery store or make dinner reservations, here are 6 foods to avoid… unless you want them acting like thieves in the night, robbing you of your hard-earned beauty.
1. Milk, cheese and yogurt. Most of us grew up believing milk and dairy products were our sole source of calcium, and therefore incredibly important to our diets. Not to knock cows, but their manna isn’t going to do sufferers of acne any favors. “I recommend to all my clients who are acne-prone to avoid diary,” says Skin Therapist Lauren Young London. “The high volume of hormones from cows contained in many diary products can stimulate your oil glands and produce more sebum, which gets stuck to dead skin cells that accumulate within the pore. This makes your pores more clogged and therefore causes more blackheads and blemishes.”
2. Lollipops and pasta. Although we learned long ago that chocolate doesn’t necessarily cause zits (hormones are the real culprit), sugar and high-glycemic foods can trigger hormonal imbalances and lead to acne. “Stay clear and avoid sweets and simple carbs like white bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice,” London says. “Too much sugar can trigger hormonal ups and downs within the body, which can cause an increase in sebum being produced and cause new pimples to form.”
3. Advanced Glycation End Products (AEGs). “I recommend to all my clients looking to postpone aging to limit the amount of Advanced Glycation End Products (AEGs), which occur when you cook animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein, as well as eating large amounts of sugars,” London says. “These AEGS are known to increase oxidative stress within the body and promote inflammation that can lead to early signs of aging within the body and contribute to visible aging. Over time this damages collagen and elastin, which leads to premature aging and winkles.”
4. Potato chips. If you find yourself constantly battling puffy eyes and skin, throw out that bag of potato chips. “Taking in too much sodium on a daily basis can make your face look puffy and very unhealthy,” London says. “Whenever I have a client attending an important event or awards show, we usually cut all salt for a minimum of 72 hours.”
5. Alcohol. It’s one thing to enjoy an occasional glass of red wine–and another entirely to drink on a daily basis because your skin never has a chance to recuperate from the inflammation caused by all those good times. “Alcohol is very dehydrating to cells,” London says. “I can always tell when clients drink on a regular basis or even the night before because their skin looks puffy and their texture becomes very dry to the touch while an underlying redness is present because the alcohol acts as a vasodilator making skin look very flushed. Over time it prevents the absorption of key nutrients and leads to excess inflammation, which is one of the underlying causes of cellular aging.”
6. Fried chicken. The basic rule of thumb to keep in mind when trying to figure out which foods are bad for your hair is: are they bad for my skin? It’s that simple. “Deep fried foods, like fried chicken and French fries, can cause build up on your scalp and hair, not just from consuming it but also from your hands,” says Carla Rivas, co-founder of the all-natural hair growth vitamin Hair La Vie. “Sweets like cake and ice cream can irritate your skin as well. Anything that irritates your skin will bother your scalp, which can damage your hair follicle. A damaged hair follicle will either grow weak hair or not grow hair at all. Any foods that would make you breakout, such as those filled with sugars and grease, are going to cause a buildup on your scalp that’s going to affect the way your hair feels, looks, and grows. People should be eating nutrient and antioxidant rich foods like fruits and vegetables. These help hydrate your scalp and strengthen your hair.”
For more beauty tips, check out how to shave your legs less often and the single most effective treatment for 11 of the most common skin problems.