If you’re looking for a book that takes a nutritious and holistic approach to beauty and health, I highly recommend Glow: The Nutritional Approach to Naturally Gorgeous Skin. Written by Nadia Neumann of @bodyunburdened, Glow is a gorgeous resource filled with amazing pictures and valuable health information PLUS lots of skin-loving (and delicious) meal recipes as well as fun homemade skincare recipes, all using fresh, easily obtained ingredients.
Main sections include: Understanding the Skin, Glowing Skin from Within, Skin-Loving Superfood Recipes, Boost Your Inner Glow, and Natural DIY Skincare Recipes. Throughout, Glow is full of insightful nuggets presented in creative ways. In Understanding the Skin, Ms. Neumann has one of the best analogies for the three main layers of skin that I have ever encountered: “the epidermis is the very thin, bright orange part of the peel; the dermis is the thicker, whiter part of the peel that’s visible when you cut the orange; and the hypodermis is the pulp of the fruit.” It’s such a great way to remember!
Along with a great overview of healthy nutrition that covers how both macronutrients and micronutrients relate to healthy skin, Ms. Neumann reminds us that our choices matter and that every meal is a chance to nourish our skin and our health from within. Unlike many books that simply vilify sugar, Glow explains exactly how sugar wreaks havoc on our skin: glycation (when glucose attaches itself to proteins, including elastin and collagen, making them rigid), depletion of micronutrients, inflammation, harming gut flora and health, and contributing to hormone imbalances–all of which are taxing to skin. Fortunately, Glow also features several tips to lessen sugar’s burden: limiting refined and simple carbohydrates, balancing carbohydrates with protein and fat to offset the sugars, and using natural sweeteners rather than processed sweeteners.
Glow also tackles two issues that I believe are key in the intersection of health and beauty: gut health and chronic inflammation. Inflammation in the gut can manifest in the skin, and intestinal permeability can also greatly contribute to inflammatory skin troubles. Glow offers some really sensible advice about how to improve digestion–from reminding us that chewing thoroughly is an important step of the process in which enzymes are released to pointing out that drinking lots of liquid with a meal dilutes gastric juices. She also recommends eating probiotic-rich foods for the sake of the microbiome and suggests foods (like gelatin and bone broth) that are healing for the gut lining. Reminding us why all this is important, Ms. Neumann points out, “Remember all the glow-getting nutrients your skin is craving? Well, they’re worth diddly squat if digestion is impaired—if you’re not properly breaking down those nutrients, your body simply can’t make use of them.” In terms of inflammation, Glow describes the very different implications of acute and chronic (systemic) inflammation and gives great tips on taming systemic inflammation: by adjusting omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid intake (increasing omega-3), being mindful to avoid pro-inflammatory foods (like sugar, gluten, and overcooked foods), adding anti-inflammatory superstars to the diet (turmeric, ginger, pineapple), as well as neutralizing free radicals with antioxidant-rich foods (like watercress, blueberries, and green tea).These are just some of the helpful highlights in a very comprehensive guide.
Glow offers a wealth of healthy beauty advice, which is really the best kind, as well as fantastic superfood recipes and DIY skincare recipes (below, see one of my favorites, excerpted with permission). Ms. Neumann promotes beauty and health simultaneously, with an understanding that our skin complaints reflect of our internal imbalances. Rather than scolding poor choices, Glow offers explanations of why things are healthy or unhealthy, along with action steps to get on a better path. This is a jam-packed resource that has the potential to inspire and greatly improve both health and beauty for its readers. Highly recommended.
Chamomile Rose Cleansing Grains
These cleansing grains are a one-stop shop for all of your skin needs. They wash away impurities without the use of potentially irritating soap while providing a buff gentle enough to be had daily.
This particular recipe contains goodies that benefit all skin types. Oats may have a reputation for being boring but are actually quite the opposite—not only do they calm irritated skin, but they also contain natural saponins that absorb excess oil and cleanse the skin. Rose petals are rich in the antioxidant powerhouse vitamin C and act as a mild astringent, keeping pores clear and tight. Chamomile soothes irritated, inflamed skin. Last but certainly not least, French green clay absorbs dirt and excess oil while providing skin with a healthy dose of minerals.
YIELD: 4 OZ (115 G)
4 tbsp (22 g) oats
2 tbsp (4 g) loosely packed rose petals
2 tbsp (4 g) loosely packed chamomile flowers
3 tbsp (27 g) French green clay
In a high-speed blender, food processor or coffee grinder, grind the oats, rose petals and chamomile flowers together into a fine powder. Transfer the finely ground mixture to a jar, add the French green clay and give the mixture a shake to blend the ingredients.
To use, mix about 1 teaspoon (5 g) of cleansing grains with a small amount of water in the palm of your hand to form a thick paste. Rub the grains into your face using gentle, circular motions. Rinse and bask in the beauty of your skin!
To avoid bacteria growth, make sure your hands are clean and dry before scooping the grains from the jar and to securely close the jar after you are finished.
Since these grains do very mildly exfoliate the skin, use them no more than once a day.
Cleansing grains are not fantastic at removing makeup, so be sure to remove makeup (a little bit of oil does the trick) before using.