Food for Glowing Skin: What to Eat and What to Avoid

You’ve probably heard it said before: Good looks begin on the inside. If you’re eating a diet full of sugar, bad fats, preservatives, and other yucky stuff, you’re going to have a hard time getting your skin to look its very best. But with a few simple changes, you’ll discover that it’s easy to follow a diet for glowing skin while enjoying your food at the same time.

The Best Diet for Glowing Skin

Are vegetables good for skin? Absolutely, and so are fruits. That’s why vegan skin almost always looks amazing! Don’t worry – you don’t have to go on a plant-based diet if you’re not ready for it. What you are going to do is cut back on foods that tend to cause inflammation and replace them with delicious foods that are food for your skin. You’ll notice better results faster if you cut these foods out altogether or indulge in them just once in a while.

Avoid These Foods if You Want Amazing Skin

Before we talk about the best foods for skin, let’s take a quick look at some of the worst offenders. These items on this list might be tasty, but they’re definitely among the worst foods for your skin.

Processed Carbohydrates

White flour, sugar, white rice, and even rice cakes are among the foods that make it into this category. Any food that contains lots of simple carbohydrates and increases blood sugar rapidly can damage collagen once it has turned to glucose. This process is called glycation, and it damages other tissues inside your body, too. When glycation affects collagen, it weakens the cells that form your skin’s underlying structure. This leads to the rapid formation of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s just one part of the big picture, but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind as you decide what to eat.

Dairy Products

Bad news! Milk, cheese, and other favorites can sometimes contribute to breakouts. The reason for this is that conventional dairy products contain hormones and growth factors that are meant to speed a calf’s journey to adulthood. These are present even after dairy products have been pasteurized. The good news is that plant-based alternatives can take the place of milk on your favorite cereal and in your coffee. Nibble on a little bit of real cheese if you must, but know that cutting back on dairy means better-looking skin.

Trans Fats

Knowing which fats are best can be confusing! The good news is that it’s pretty easy to weed out the offenders and replace them with fats that help your skin thrive. Just like processed carbohydrates, highly processed fats – we’re talking hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated fats – are among the worst for your skin as well as the rest of your body. There’s not a lot of evidence linking trans fats to skin damage, but scientists know that “bad fats” found in processed baked goods, fried foods, snacks such as chips, and many margarines and coffee creamers are linked with inflammation. When inflammation is present in the body, it often shows up in the skin as redness, irritation, eczema, and acne.

Fast Food

Fast food tends to be high on the glycemic index, meaning it turns into glucose rapidly and leads to glycation. Additionally, many fast food favorites contain trans fats that contribute to faster cell aging (oxidation). Many contain dairy, too. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t treat yourself once in a blue moon, but keep those visits to your favorite fast food joint few and far between, and you’ll soon notice that you look a whole lot better. Pack your own lunch if you think you’ll be tempted. It’ll be tough to skip the burgers and fries at first, but once you get over the initial cravings, you will find it’s a whole lot easier to say no.

Eat These Foods for Glowing Skin

Now that you know more about which foods can cause skin problems, it’s time to add healthier, skin-loving foods to your shopping list. These foods help turn off inflammation, strengthen your skin from the inside, and nourish your cells so that skin takes on a beautiful glow.


Now that you know which fats to avoid, it’s time to focus on adding some healthy fat back into your diet. Skin loves avocado – and so does the rest of your body! This fruit is high in monosaturated fatty acids, which help reduce the aging effects caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Additionally, the fat in avocados helps your body take advantage of the many fat-soluble vitamins found in fruits and vegetables. If you don’t like the taste of avocado, you can still enjoy its benefits by using avocado oil in cooking and salad dressings. It has a neutral taste and it’s perfect for replacing questionable oils such as corn, soy, and vegetable oils.


Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, so be sure to add them to your salad. Cooked tomatoes are an important part of a healthy skin diet too. Once tomatoes have been cooked, lycopene is concentrated. This potent antioxidant helps build collagen, so skin looks tighter and more youthful. Lycopene helps protect your skin from damage another way, too. In a study conducted by the British Journal of Dermatology, people who consumed five tablespoons of tomato paste per day showed a 33 percent increase in natural sunburn resistance than those who didn’t eat the tomato paste. Wow! You can get a similar effect by eating other forms of tomato sauce or even drinking cooked tomato juice (preferably the low-sodium variety).


Salmon is a great source of skin-building protein, plus it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for glowing skin. Your heart, blood vessels, and muscles will thank you for choosing this delicious protein source, too. Note that you should choose wild-caught salmon, since farm-raised varieties are fed a poor diet that changes their nutritional profile. We’ll go as far as to say that it’s a good idea to avoid farm-raised seafood altogether. Lots of it comes from overseas, and it often contains antibiotics and other nasty stuff that doesn’t benefit you.

Bright Orange Fruits and Vegetables

If a vegetable or fruit has a bright orange color, then it’s going to be great for your skin. The reason for this lies in these foods’ high vitamin A and beta-carotene content. These foods can help put an end to breakouts when you eat them every day, and their vitamin A content helps keep skin’s outer layers turning over at a healthy rate. There’s still more. When you eat carrots, brightly colored winter squash, sweet potatoes, and other brilliant orange foods, the natural vitamin A inside can help reduce the likelihood of skin cancer so long as you cooperate with healthy lifestyle choices like avoiding overexposure to the sun.

In case you need more convincing, the carotenoids found in bright orange vegetables and fruits contribute to radiant, glowing skin. Red fruits and veggies contain lots of carotenoids too, so be sure to eat them every day!


If you love curry, you’re in luck. Turmeric contains a potent antioxidant called curcumin, which fights free radicals and oxidation, leaving skin looking more radiant than ever. If you’re not a fan of turmeric’s flavor, you can take it as a supplement.


As if you needed more encouragement to indulge in delicious tropical fruits! Papaya is among the best thanks to its enzymes, including papain and chymopapain. Both help to alleviate inflammation, leaving skin looking clear and bright. Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C, too. One cup of sliced papaya treats your body’s collagen cells to an impressive boost. Keep in mind that other yellow and orange veggies and fruits deliver vitamin C, too. You can take a papaya supplement for the enzymes if it’s hard to find in your area and replace that valuable vitamin C with oranges, tangerines, clementines, or crisp yellow and orange bell peppers.

Leafy Greens

Mom was right when she told you to eat your spinach! Not only do leafy greens contain lots of B vitamins to keep skin cells in tip-top shape, they’re also linked with a lower risk of skin cancer. Try to eat a huge salad at least once a day. By huge, we mean about 8 ounces of leafy greens or more, plus healthy fat like avocado or extra-virgin olive oil. Add eggs or salmon for protein, and top it off with colorful carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Extra points if you squeeze a lemon over your salad. Your skin will love the vitamin C!

Because different greens contain different mircronutrients, be sure to change things up with your salad a few times per week. Mixed pre-washed salads that contain spring greens and baby spinach are ideal, and so are salad blends that contain kale and brussels sprouts. If you’re new to the concept of leafy greens, this might sound a touch adventurous. We get it. Work your way out of your comfort zone slowly, and as you focus your diet on more veggies and fruits, your tastebuds will change and you’ll find things like this absolutely delicious. It’s a sign that you’re finally giving your body the natural nutrition it deserves.

Blue and Purple Berries

Blueberries, blackberries, and black grapes are all fantastic for your skin. If you have to choose just one of these, think about making blueberries your go-to. These tiny berries are filled with antioxidants that help fight free radicals that lead to rapid aging. They’re also high in anthocyanins, which are phytonutrients that give collagen a boost. Other blue and purple fruits and berries are a close second, so don’t worry if blueberries aren’t your favorite.


Packed with vitamin C, strawberries help your skin fight off free radicals and continue producing collagen. There’s more. Strawberries are high in an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which helps keep skin supple while providing a little bit of protection from UV damage. The folic acid in strawberries helps skin produce new, glowing cells benefits your entire body too. If you like, you can mash a fresh strawberry and apply it to your face as a mask that helps strip off dead skin cells and reveal fresh, new ones underneath.


Notice we didn’t say “egg whites.” While an egg’s whites are a valuable source of lean protein, the yolk is rich in biotin, which is nicknamed the “beauty vitamin.” Biotin strengthens your hair and nails, plus it helps keep your skin protected from irritation while strengthening cell walls so they retain moisture better.

Olive Oil

Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats that can help increase your skin’s ability to resist wrinkling caused by photoaging. This wonderful oil is high in antioxidants too! It is versatile enough to use in cooking and as an ingredient in healthy salad dressings, making it easy to get your daily dose.

Coconut Oil

Coconut meat and coconut oil are fantastic for your skin, thanks to the medium-chain triglycerides they contain. These fats help keep cells nourished while increasing good HDL cholesterol levels and benefitting your body as a whole.

Coconut Water

Unsweetened coconut water offers a lovely, tropical taste plus it’s brimming with electrolytes that help replenish your skin while providing plenty of hydration. If you don’t like the taste of unsweetened coconut water, you can add a little bit of stevia or monkfruit to make it seem like more of a treat.

Green Tea

Hot or iced, real green tea is a treat for your tastebuds and your skin! This potent elixir contains powerful antioxidants called catechins, which offer anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea has been proven to help repair damaged DNA, but you need to drink quite a bit of it to get the effect. According to research published by the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, the optimal amount is five to six cups per day.

You get a little bit of caffeine when you drink green tea, so try to enjoy it during the first half of the day so your sleep isn’t interrupted.

The #1 Food for Glowing Skin

We covered an entire list of food for great skin that glows and now it’s time to talk hydration. You might be surprised to discover that the best food for glowing skin isn’t an actual food at all. Instead, it’s a vital nutrient that makes up most of your body’s composition. That’s right. Water! You need to drink lots of water if you want to look your best. Here’s why.

If you’re not drinking enough water, you’re probably dehydrated. You might not be dehydrated enough to feel really thirsty, since water makes its way to vital organs before ever reaching your skin. This is bad news, since even mild dehydration leaves your skin looking flaky and dry. Without enough water, skin is more prone to wrinkling, too.

Drinking water rids your body of toxins, so common issues like acne are often easier to clear up when you are well-hydrated. Additionally, water carries essential nutrients to every tiny cell that makes up your skin, so drinking enough means that your food and supplements are doing their jobs.

How Much Water to Drink for Beautiful Skin

Experts agree that everyone needs to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. There’s a bit of disagreement on whether drinking more than that will help, but it certainly won’t hurt you. If you drink at least half an ounce of water for every pound of body weight you carry, you’ll be very well hydrated and you will probably notice that your skin takes on a gorgeous glow. This is easy to calculate – just divide your weight in half to get the number of ounces of water to drink each day.

Can Other Liquids Take the Place of Water for Hydration?

You can replace some of your water with other liquids, but make sure that those drinks are good for your skin. We mentioned coconut water and green tea on our list of the best foods for glowing skin, and those can be used to replace some of your water.

Herbal teas can be used to replace water as well. Most types are beneficial, so choose flavors that appeal to you. In case you’re not quite sure where to begin, here are just a few of the best teas for skin:

Yogi Soothing Rose Hibiscus Skin Detox:

This tea helps you cleans from inside. It contains rose petals and hibiscus flower, along with clover leaf and flower, delicious cardamom, and other beneficial herbs. It also contains green tea, so you get lots of skin-boosting benefits in every cup. Stevia leaf provides a touch of natural sweetness so you don’t need to add anything extra. Most reviewers like Yogi Rose Hibiscus Skin Detox tea for its flavor and a few mention that it helped clear up acne. A few people warn that this tea might have a slight laxative effect.

Rooibos tea:

This lovely tea contains lots of natural flavonoids including spalathin and nothofagin, which offer anti-inflammatory properties that can help clear up issues like acne or rosacea. Also known as red tea or red bush tea, rooibos tea treats your skin to superoxide dismutase, which helps fight free radicals and slow the signs of aging. Of all the brands available, Cederberg Tea Company’s Organic Red Rooibos is among the most popular. A scan of reviews shows that people tend to enjoy this brand for its freshness, flavor, and aroma. Some mention a subtle calming effect, so you might want to see how it affects you before driving or doing other important tasks.

Sleepytime Extra:

Sleep plays a vital role in building healthy skin and looking your best. If you have trouble catching enough Z’s, consider sipping on a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra wellness tea before bed. This soothing tea contains plenty of antioxidants to nourish your skin, along with a relaxing blend of herbs including valerian, catnip, passionflower, and chamomile. There are other sleep blends to choose from as well, but this brand is among the best-rated. Reviewers love its relaxing effects but warn that it’s so powerful that it should only be taken at bedtime.

Ginger tea:

Ginger tea boosts circulation, and studies show that with regular consumption, it can help reduce LDL cholesterol (that’s the “bad” kind.) It also contains plenty of anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help your skin take on a gorgeous glow. You can purchase ginger tea, but you’ll enjoy more benefits and a fresher flavor if you make it yourself by steeping a few slices of fresh ginger root in boiling water. If you like, you can treat your skin to extra nourishment by adding a green tea bag to your cup!

Reishi tea:

Reishi mushrooms are so well-known for their anti-aging properties that they are nicknamed the “mushroom of immortality.” Because these mushrooms are too dry and leathery for culinary use, one of the best ways to get your daily dose is by drinking a cup of reishi tea. This tea contains lots of antioxidants to help your skin look younger and healthier, plus it boosts circulation. If you don’t like the somewhat earthy taste of reishi tea, you can take this mushroom in supplement form or mix the powder into a smoothie and reap the same benefits. There are many products to choose from, with some getting far better ratings than others. A quick scan of Micro Ingredients Organic Red Reishi Mushroom 100:1 reviews shows that most people love this product for its efficacy, versatility, and purity. A few people disliked the taste, as expected.

If you’re trying to kick a soda habit, these wonderful naturally flavored drinks can help make the transition easier. Choose a healthy, natural sugar replacer like stevia or monkfruit if you are craving the sweet taste of soda, and consider trying your herbal teas iced instead of hot.

If you are craving fizzy drinks, go for sparkling water instead of soda! It hydrates just as well as regular water, and many companies offer nice, natural flavors. Be careful not to drink too much sparkling water since overconsumption of bubbly drinks can contribute to bloating.

How to Drink More Water

If you’re not accustomed to drinking water, you might wonder where you’re going to put it all. The truth is that once you start drinking water more often, your body will start demanding it. It’s been in survival mode for so long that you’ve learned to ignore those thirst signals.

Start by scheduling your water intake. Have a cup of water first thing in the morning. Have another cup hourly. By the end of the day, you’ll have taken in more than enough water.

If you think the flavor of water is boring, treat yourself to spa water a few times per day or try some of the teas mentioned earlier. It’s easy to make spa water; simply cut up your favorite citrus fruits and add them to your water. The flavor is light and delicious, and you’ll get some extra vitamins this way. It’s worth noting here that you should use organic fruits for your spa water, since conventional varieties skins often hold onto pesticides. If you can’t spring for organics, squeeze citrus juice into your water instead of adding it skin and all.

It’s worth noting here that when you suddenly get hydrated, your body goes into overdrive, flushing out old toxins with lots of trips to the restroom. Don’t worry – this isn’t permanent. Once you’re hydrated and your body realizes that you’re staying hydrated, it will adjust. You won’t need to run to the restroom as often, you’ll feel more energetic, and you will crave water instead of drinks that aren’t doing you any favors.

You probably won’t notice an improvement in your skin overnight when you add more water to your day, but within a week or two, you’ll be able to see a difference.

Try to enjoy a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy, lean proteins, and beneficial fats, and you’ll be amazed at the way you look – particularly if you are vigilant about staying away from sugar, processed foods, bad fats, and lots of dairy. Since many of the best foods for healthy, glowing skin support overall good health, you’re likely to notice some improvements in your entire body over time. Here’s to your health!