Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Dry skin is a common frustration, especially coming out of winter and being cooped up indoors with dry air. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the discomfort of dry skin. The food you eat contributes to your skin’s overall health – so, by choosing the right foods, you can restore your skin’s moisture.
Your skin normally keeps itself well-protected with a layer of naturally occurring fats and oils that lock in moisture and block potential irritants. However, that exterior layer can easily be stripped away by a number of elements such as weather, harsh soaps, hot showers and frequent hand washing.
Restoring your skin’s natural moisture barrier can be as simple as eating foods that contain the vitamins and minerals your thirsty skin craves, like fats and oils. Here’s what to eat to combat dry skin and bring back that sought-after glow (and literal comfort in your own skin).
Bell peppers come in a rainbow of colors and include an array of vitamins and minerals. They’re full of nutrients like vitamin B6, iron, potassium, folate, vitamin E and vitamin A. Each specific color of bell pepper can offer even more nutrients.
Bell peppers are great for hydrating from the inside out. The vitamin A found in these sweet peppers can prevent cell damage and premature aging of the skin, research shows. Vitamin C, which can significantly increase your skin’s hydration level, is also a key nutrient you’ll get if you eat bell peppers. Red bell peppers in particular have an impressive amount of vitamin C. You’ll get 106 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C from just half a cup of raw red bell pepper.
You can get a healthy serving of bell peppers in recipes like our Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers with Serrano Ham and Cheese or our Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple and Red Peppers.
Another food that’s rich in the right vitamins for well-moisturized skin is the sweet potato. No matter how you eat them, sweet potatoes contain a healthy dose of vitamin A.
A single sweet potato, with the skin on, offers 1,403 micrograms of vitamin A. That’s a whopping 156 percent of your recommended daily total. While it’s commonly found in skincare products in the form of retinol, vitamin A can also work from the inside out. It’ll help your skin cells repair and regenerate properly, two key functions that play a role in your skin’s moisture barrier.
Reap the skin-plumping benefits of potatoes: try our Creamed Spinach-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon – the added spinach will give you even more vitamin A. Our Sweet Potato Chickpea Hash is another tasty option to try.
You might not reach for guava very often unless you’re seeking it out for a specific recipe. But this bright tropical fruit with pink flesh is a fantastic choice for combating dry skin.
Guava is very high in vitamin C. A serving of 100 grams of guava fruit contains 228.3 milligrams of vitamin C, which amounts to 140 percent of the daily recommended total. So, just like bell peppers, guava is a food that can give you quite a lot of value for parched skin.
But guava offers another skin-friendly benefit. It’s also high in lycopene, an antioxidant that can help keep free radical levels balanced. Lycopene has been found to offer some level of protection for your skin in the face of damage. It’s particularly good at protecting against UV damage and can help prevent or reduce sunburns – something that can really dry out your skin in warm weather.
You can easily eat guava without any prep at all to take advantage of its high vitamin C and lycopene content.
You already know avocados are full of healthy fats. And if you’ve ever tried a DIY avocado mask at home, you also likely know just how great this green fruit is for your skin.
Avocados are especially wonderful for those who are dealing with dry skin. Packed with a ton of vitamins B, C and E, avocados also offer a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Those omega-3s can help keep your skin moist, allowing it to naturally hang onto more water to alleviate dryness.
But the perks of avocados don’t end there. The fruit is also high in important antioxidants – lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene – which help reduce cellular damage within the body. This helps skin stay healthy, and it can be an aid in combating problems like dryness and signs of aging.
There are so many ways to work avocados into your diet. You can try staples like avocado toast, including our Poached Egg Over Avocado Toast recipe. They can become a crispy snack in recipes like our Avocado Fries with Creamy Chipotle Dipping Sauce. You can even make a dessert with this versatile fruit – try out our No-Bake Avocado Lime Pie.
There might be some benefit to the familiar practice of placing cucumber slices over your eyes while relaxing during a spa day. Cucumbers, a highly hydrating veggie, can help soothe and re-moisturize dry skin no matter how you use them.
Cucumbers are 96 percent water. This means every time you bite into a cucumber you’re essentially drinking water, only tastier. Cucumbers will contribute towards your daily hydration goals, keeping your body’s most important functions running smoothly.
This vegetable even helps you retain water thanks to its ascorbic acid, which is key for hydrating your skin from the inside outwards. The better you’re able to retain water, the more easily your skin can replenish or maintain its hydration barrier. And that alone can help prevent or reverse dry skin.
To incorporate more cucumber into your diet, you can make it a side dish standout with recipes like our Korean Flanken Ribs with Shaved Cucumber and Radish Salad or our Broccoli, Cucumber & Napa Slaw. You can also drink your cucumber – our Coconut Cucumber Limeade includes a whole cucumber plus extra for garnish (or snacking).
Create a better moisture barrier with the right vitamins and minerals
The key to preventing or resolving dry skin is focusing on your moisture barrier. If your skin’s moisture barrier isn’t strong enough, dry skin is more likely. And just about anything can mess up that barrier – including oxidants from the surrounding environment and exposure to UV light. Even small actions like scrubbing your skin too harshly or over-washing it can break down the barrier.
Your diet also plays a role in your skin’s health and hydration. Factors like high salt intake, drinking alcohol, too much sugar and a lot of coffee can all contribute to dry skin. A healthy diet, on the other hand, reflects in your skin’s natural glow.
So, when you’re looking for ways to fight dry skin, it’s important to think about what your skin needs for its moisture barrier. A healthy diet can often do the trick. However, if dry skin is already present, you may be lacking some of the key nutrients mentioned above. Vitamins like A, C and E plus skin-friendly nutrients like omega-3s and antioxidants are important to emphasize and eat regularly.
To learn more about the connection between skin and food, keep reading: