You can slather on expensive creams and treat your tresses to weekly masks — but the truth is, healthy hair, skin and nails are an inside job. Start with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and plenty of water, while minimizing processed and refined foods. Also important: sleep and exercise. Studies suggest poor sleep quality is linked with signs of aging, and regular exercise not only keeps skin looking younger, but it may even reverse skin aging. High-quality supplements can boost your beauty-care regimen, too. Support healthy hair, nails and skin with these natural solutions.
The most abundant protein in the body, collagen is a major component of skin, adding structural support and elasticity. As you age, the collagen matrix in skin begins to decline and regeneration slows dramatically. Without its collagen structure, skin starts to sag, and fine lines and wrinkles become more noticeable. Several studies suggest that taking collagen supplements can increase collagen levels in skin, reduce dryness, improve elasticity and moisture, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles. Other studies show that collagen may support nail health, enhancing growth, improving brittleness and reducing breakage. And the amino acids in collagen can be used to produce keratin, the primary protein found in hair. TRY: Garden of Life Grass Fed Collagen Peptides (280 g). $25, gardenoflife.com
Related: Do Collagen Supplements Work?
Antioxidants, especially vitamins A, C, E and selenium, play a critical role in skin, nail and hair health. Vitamin A protects against sun damage and enhances skin repair, and it may also speed hair growth and improve its thickness. Vitamin C fights skin inflammation and stimulates collagen synthesis, and studies show supplementing with vitamin C improves skin elasticity, minimizes facial wrinkling and reduces signs of aging. Vitamin E protects against sun-induced skin damage and suppresses collagen breakdown in skin. Vitamin E works synergistically with vitamin C to improve skin elasticity and moisture; using a combination of the two is also more effective in protecting against sunburn and reducing skin cancer risk. Selenium, too, protects against sun damage, and deficiencies are linked with an increased risk of skin cancer. Studies show selenium to be an effective treatment for psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions as well, and some research suggests deficiencies may play a role in hair loss. TRY: Rainbow Light Nail, Hair & Skin Connection. $25, rainbowlight.com
Horsetail & Biotin
These two nutrients have long been used to promote healthy hair, skin and nails. Horsetail, derived from a perennial plant related to the fern family, is rich in silica compounds, important for synthesizing collagen and improving skin strength and elasticity. Silica may also reduce hair loss, increase hair strength and shine, and protect against soft, brittle nails and nail splitting. Biotin, a B vitamin, helps keep scalp and follicles healthy, and some studies suggest biotin deficiencies are linked with hair loss. Other trials have reported an improvement in firmness, hardness and thickness of brittle nails after taking biotin supplements. TRY: MegaFood Skin, Nails & Hair (60 count). $30, megafood.com
A red pigment that occurs naturally in algae, salmon, krill and lobster, astaxanthin is a carotenoid antioxidant that protects skin from inflammation and oxidative stress, a critical factor in skin aging. It may also inhibit enzymes that break down collagen and can protect against skin cancer. A number of clinical trials show supplementing with astaxanthin can reduce wrinkle formation, improve skin elasticity, combat age spots and minimize crow’s feet around the eyes. It appears to be especially effective when combined with collagen supplements, and several studies suggest the two compounds work synergistically to prevent or reverse skin aging. TRY: New Chapter Perfect Hair, Skin and Nails with Astaxanthin (30 count). $31, newchapter.com