Remember when you were pregnant and your skin was all glowy as you awaited the arrival of your new little human? Welp, those days are over. It turns out that while pregnancy can be great for the skin, actually raising children? Not so much. According to the Sleep Foundation, all those nights of lost sleep can age your face, leading to paler skin, wrinkles and fine lines, and dark circles. In addition, added stress and wildly changing hormones postpartum (and in the perimenopausal/menopausal years) can also take its toll on your skin.

And while you can slather on high-end creams and laser away imperfections, the easiest way to get your skin glowing and healthy is to feed it from the inside. Although your overall diet makes a big difference in keeping your skin clear, some foods stand out for their skin-boosting powers.

“There are several ways the food your skin can help your skin, and one of those ways is by protecting it. Your skin is under siege every minute of every day, and the foods you eat can provide some powerful protection to your skin,” says dermatologist Rajani Katta, author of Glow: The Dermatologist’s Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. Whether you want to feast on yogurt and mangoes or eat almonds by the handful, here are the best foods for healthy and glowing skin:


These little nuts have big superpowers. A rich source of fatty acids, phytochemical polyphenols, and antioxidants, almonds are also potent wrinkle-fighting nuts. According to a University of California Davis study published In Nutrients, snacking on almonds every day for six months (consuming 20 percent of their daily calories in almonds!) reduced wrinkle severity by up to 16% and improved skin pigmentation by 20%. Katta said she’s not surprised.

“I’m a big believer in synergy—that the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in food are more powerful when they’re combined,” says Katta, whose book uses scientific evidence to lay out a food plan for achieving healthier skin. “But I do think there’s something to almonds.”

Kefir (and other fermented foods)

A healthy gut helps support pretty much everything else in your body—your skin included. As noted in Healthline, eating fermented foods (with live healthy bacteria like lactobacillus) can smooth out imperfections by alleviating conditions such as eczema, acne, dry skin, and UV-induced skin damage. So stock up on yogurt (low or no sugar is best), kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. (Pssst: A Harvard study found that probiotics can boost your immune system, cure constipation, reduce inflammation, and improve your moods—so eat up!)


Mangoes are high in vitamins A, C, and E and are a great source of soluble fiber. They may also smooth out your skin! A University of California Davis study found that after just two months, postmenopausal women who ate half a cup of Ataulfo mangoes four times a week saw a significant decrease in deep wrinkles.

But don’t overdo it! The study also found that women who overate mango (just a cup and a half!) saw an increase in wrinkles, possibly due to the fruit’s high sugar content. “While some mango may be good for skin health, too much of it may not be,” Vivien Fam, a doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Nutrition, said in the UC Davis report.


Besides warding off vampires, garlic is also great for your skin. Research has found that garlic is effective at reducing inflammation and that it protects against UV-induced photoaging. One study even showed that it reduced wrinkles and improved collagen production. Studies also show that topical application of garlic extract combats psoriasis, and alopecia areata, and assists wound healing. Sure, you stink up a room, but you’ll be skin-beautiful doing it!


Studies show everyone’s favorite poolside snack isn’t only hydrating (it’s 92% water, after all) but also contains high amounts of lycopene, which can prevent and repair DNA damage from the sun’s rays. Consequently, watermelon has also been used as an ingredient in sunscreen, where studies have also shown it to be effective in preventing sunburn (and will make your skin smell delicious). Other foods high in lycopene include guavas, cooked tomatoes, grapefruit, and papaya.


Vitamin C is important for your skin because it helps it produce more collagen (which breaks down as we age). Kiwis have about 140% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C—with golden kiwis packing even more. It’s no wonder kiwis have gotten a reputation as a skin-saver — so much so that the “Two Kiwi a Day” challenge has become a thing, with some people claiming that eating two kiwis a day for 30 days boosted their skin and overall health.

And while there haven’t been any medical studies to corroborate these claims, Katta said it can’t hurt to try. “I can see why it would help,” she said. “Kiwis are a great source of Vitamin C.”

Interestingly, there has been other promising research on kiwis: A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating kiwis can boost mood within four days! Another study, published in Foods, found that two kiwis a day for six weeks can reduce the need for Vitamin C supplements.


Not only do those delicious little beans pack in the protein and fiber (there are about 11 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber per half-cup of shelled edamame), but they also contain isoflavone, a phytoestrogen with skin-plumping properties. This Japanese study found that women who consumed soy isoflavone supplements daily had improved skin elasticity and firmness after just 12 weeks.

Note: It was once thought that eating an excess of soy could increase your risk for breast cancer, but doctors now say a moderate amount (one to two servings of whole-soy foods like tofu, soy milk, or edamame) is healthy, according to MayoClinic

Green Tea

Need to perk up? Coffee’s great (and also contains antioxidants that can help the skin, Katta said), but green tea is better. With a powerful dose of polyphenols, which act as strong antioxidants, green tea has been shown to do everything from reducing inflammation and repairing sun damage to protecting the skin from pollution and UV rays. It can also calm acne and reduce puffiness when applied topically (try putting refrigerated, soaked green tea bags on your eyes in the morning for an instant de-puff).

Dark Chocolate

Hallelujah! This delicious dessert is good for you (in moderation). The reason? Dark chocolate contains a healthy dose of antioxidants called flavanols, which can help hydrate your skin and even increase circulation, which can help your skin by delivering nutrients faster. Try to find chocolate low in sugar, since too much sugar will counteract any skin-boosting properties of the chocolate (sugar breaks down collagen and fuels inflammation, so is on every dermatologist’s No-No list).


Sorry red wine. Pomegranates have you beat in the antioxidant department; they contain three times the amount of antioxidants than red wine (and green tea!). Antioxidants benefit the skin by protecting it against pollution and sun damage. Drinking pomegranate juice has also been shown in studies to increase the skin’s resistance to the sun—so bring a bottle to your next beach outing (but don’t skimp on regular sunblock).

Maybe that’s why it’s called the “Miracle Fruit,” having been heralded in the Bible as a symbol of fruitfulness and long considered a symbol of fertility for ancient Greeks. Besides helping your skin, a 2022 UCLA study showed it may also reduce oxidative stress on the brain and help with memory retention.


Like fish? Salmon is loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help hydrate and nourish your skin from the inside. It also contains a good dose of vitamin D, which can help protect your skin against sun damage. It’s a benefit that’s been touted by nutritionists, medical experts, and celebrities for years (including Victoria Beckham, who said eating it every day cured her skin “issues,” according to this Self magazine article). As for how much to incorporate into your diet, two servings a week should be enough, according to the American Heart Association (who also touts salmon for its heart-healthy properties)

Red Peppers 

You’ve heard of you are what you eat—well, with certain foods, you may also look like what you eat. At least when it comes to your skin’s hue. According to Katta, eating foods that are rich in carotenoids (orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and red peppers) can give your skin a reddish-orange “glow.” She said this may be from the pigments in the vegetables themselves or the polyphenols in the foods, which may work to increase circulation and blood flow to the face.

“These nutrients are skin powerhouses in other respects, also,” Katta wrote on her blog. “Beta-carotene and lycopene function as powerful antioxidants, which means they help to limit the effects of sun damage on our skin.”

Herbs and Spices

Foods aren’t the only things we can eat to help our skin. The spices we put on our foods can help, too! A study published in Science Daily states that herbs like mint, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, and turmeric are all skin-boosting powerhouses, containing more antioxidants per ounce than any fruit or vegetable. These ingredients can reduce inflammation and fight free radical damage in your skin, making them important add-ons. “You should try to add these spices and herbs to every meal,” says Katta.

Tip: Try adding cinnamon sticks to your water for a skin-boosting benefit. 

The takeaway: Skin-saving foods can help, but don’t rely on just one.

While it’d be nice to say you can pop just one of these ingredients into your diet and expect miracles, Katta said it doesn’t usually work like that. It’s the whole diet that can affect your health (including your skin).

“I believe more in the overall pattern. When it comes to adding particular foods or herbs, you’ve got to get small doses throughout the day, and it all adds up,” she says.

Katta said it also helps to eat “whole” foods (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, and nuts); avoid sugar (which can increase inflammation and damage your skin’s collagen); and reduce your meat intake. And she says bacon is the worst offender, as it contains collagen-damaging substances that can wreak havoc on your skin.

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