Share: is your skin affected by food or by cream?

It seems to me, based on what I’ve read in various reports and facts gleaned from workshops attended, that many dermatologists do not see a strong link between diet and the state of our skin. For example, most of them would tell us that eating unhealthy food will not cause acne, or that they’ve seen no evidence that eating collagen will benefit our skin in any way. They seem more in favor of topical application of products on the skin to stimulate collagen production as according to them, absorption is higher through the skin. I suppose their stand comes supported by scientific data but I wonder if it holds true for everyone. So my question today is: what affects your skin more – is it what you eat or what you apply?

My personal experience with a dietary change
For me, it’s definitely my diet. Long time readers will know that I suffered a bout of acne issues for almost a year and I managed to eliminate the problem with a detox and a change in my diet. In fact, introducing a probiotic supplement saved my skin and those who are interested in the specifics can read about my experience here.  I also realized recently that a diet that promotes a better blood circulation has improved my skin tone, reduced the severity of my dark eye circles and sped up the recovery of my acne marks. And based on my experience with collagen supplements, I found that they’ve worked for as long as I was taking them.

Sun protection with food source
I also found that a proper nutrition would protect our skin better than just using sunscreen.  This is also confirmed by holistic physician, Jonathan Wright, MD, who advises his patients to eat organic foods and take supplements such as those rich in beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and astaxanthin as these are powerful antioxidant carotenoids and have been shown to help protect against sunburn because they provide an SPF of about 4.  However, he said that it’ll take at least 10 weeks of supplementation before you build up to sun-protective levels. (source)

My formula – 60% internal and 40% external
Of course I also rely on topical application of products and while they do improve my skin condition especially if they contain ingredients like vitamin C, I would have to concede that it is my diet that saves my skin more than anything.  We are what we eat rings true for me and it’ll be useless for me to apply the best products and yet not guard what I put inside my stomach.  So if I may put a random figure for my beauty formula, it would be 60% internal and 40% external.  Internal would mean a healthier lifestyle in terms of what I eat and how I treat my body.  External would mean what I apply to protect and improve the state of my skin.

So what about you ladies?  Is the state of your skin affected more by what you eat or what you apply?


  1. Nat says:

    For me, it’s probably 65% external and 35% internal. My skin is very sensitive, so whatever I apply on it will affect the way it looks much more than dietary changes will.

  2. Mel says:

    It’s definitely around 75% internal, 25% external for me. My skin – which used to be acne-prone, with eczema to boot – took a 180 degree turn since I’d turned vegetarian… and then improved even more when I cut down drastically on dairy products and eggs. What I eat definitely has a massive impact on how my skin – and body – looks. What I put on my skin though has a much less minimal effect. In fact, my diet has meant that I no longer need to put so much skincare products on my face to maintain it.

  3. Minzy Ling says:

    I’m agree with this. I have cut down oily foods and some dairy products as well… It makes the difference on the ski.

  4. EcoBeauty says:

    For me, it’s 60% internal and 40% external although it changes from time to time. I remember that instance when I had a big pimple on my nose (deep, headless pimple). I was so desperate that I made a super green detox smoothie and took it for 2 days. On the third day, my pimple flattened and became less red. I became so ecstatic that I decided to celebrate by taking McNuggets. The next morning, I felt the big swelling on my nose again. ?

  5. Audris says:

    I still believe in you are what you eat – to a certain extent. For example, if I feast on durians, in a matter of just a few hours, my chin area and jawline will start sporting small pimples that pop out from nowhere. Definitely “heatiness”! Same goes for several days of fried food too. Tried, tested and proven.

    However, topical applications certainly make a difference to, especially my l-ascorbic acid Vit C serum coupled with the Avene Diacneal/Triacneal & Eluage for pimples, scars, marks and anti-ageing purposes. A basic moisturiser also helps seal it all in as and when I need.

    I also think the “food relation to skin” belief is probably more prevalent because of the Chinese culture of heaty vs cool food and not so much in the West.

  6. Soos says:

    Eating dairy causes breakouts around the mouth! Then it gets into using the right cleanser, how much to exfoliate and moisturize.

  7. Stephanie/Yukaeshi says:

    For some reason, what I eat doesn’t really affect/show on my face/skin (Touch wood). That’s not to say that I don’t believe in “you are what you eat”, though. I tried taking supplements to improve my skin and overall health, but it just doesn’t show. My skin’s pretty sensitive, though, so any reactions to external/topical stuff shows way faster than any thing I consume.

  8. Alexandra says:

    As much as we want to keep a safe and healthy diet, sometimes the cravings will just completely overwhelm us. Usually my skin gets affected by craving foods such as the heaty food like chips, spicy or deep fried stuffs before ‘the time of the month’. If I go overboard, I would eat or drink ‘cooling’ stuff to balance my body back. 1 or 2 pimple will just appear around the chin area. Noticed that less consumption of water will also dehydrate my skin A LOT!

  9. espenine says:

    70% external – I have pretty sensitive skin so topical application of the right skincare products makes a lot of difference to my acne prone skin. Likewise, using unsuitable products can cause breakouts/clogged pores quickly. Sudden changes in climate also causes my skin to react negatively.

    30% internal – I have tried all sorts of supplements & medication to improve skin and reduce acne occurring but it does not work significantly for me. I also don’t get acne flare up from the usual suspects e.g. ‘heaty’ food or dairy products. Even so, I try to maintain a healthy diet as I believe good health will not harm, if not improve, the skin. The only thing that causes my skin to turn poor is the lack of water so I make sure I drink lotsa water, healthy beverages, e.g. green tea, everyday to keep skin from dehydration.

  10. sesame says:

    Very interesting! I’ve always thought acne is more a result of internal issues so yours appear to be due to clogged pores and unsuitable products.

  11. sesame says:

    Yeah, water is really important. I get the same problem when I do not drink enough water or when I drink too much tea.

  12. sesame says:

    Oh that’s good because at least you can eat a lot more stuff. ?

  13. sesame says:

    Breakout around the mouth? If I remember correctly, I think that’s reflective of intestinal health.

  14. sesame says:

    Wow, durian is so potent for you! I get breakout from eating stuff but the usual reaction is overnight but not in a matter of hours.

    Not too sure about the Chinese culture vs Western because I think many acne sufferers in the west do take note of their diet. But you’re right that the ‘heaty’ food is something that is only known here.

  15. sesame says:

    Haha…McNuggets killed the Smoothie. ?

  16. sesame says:

    Glad an improved diet is helping your skin condition.

  17. sesame says:

    That’s a great change! I met up with someone who told me after eating some colored vegetables for two weeks, his complexion improved so much. I’m really inspired but the best I can do is to rely on supplements.

  18. sesame says:

    Interesting! So you have to take care about what you apply but not so much what you eat. ?

  19. MissQ says:

    is it possible for the proportion to change over time? 5 years go, it took me 75% internal and 25% external to change my skin for the better… i eliminated fast food and soft drinks from my diet. i also cut down alot on dairy products/red meat and piled on lotsa greens and fruits. thankfully my skin improved! although i am still plagued with clogged pores and the occasional breakouts, they are still under control with the help of right products. however, i am not as strict with my diet as compared to 5 years go and once in a purple moon, will give in to an icecream or that enticing tempura! :p

    i started taking supplements 6 months ago and am still figuring out which one does best for me. i would say i am 65% internal and 35% external. ?

  20. sesame says:

    Yes, I believe it changes with out age. Like I don;t remember being so sensitive to what I eat in the past.

  21. Mel says:

    #k8SjZc9Dxk _ #k8SjZc9Dxk Take it slow and easy – I think just increasing the number of times you consume coloured veggies a week will already have a visible impact! It really helps!

  22. sesame says:

    I was doing it for awhile but then stopped. Need to get back on track. ?

  23. Ann says:

    It’s been a while I am trying to cut down on sugar and carbs, so prolly if I am taking these in my diet even in small amount, my skin is reacting. Don’t know but it’s like more of coz of eating and not products. But I am sure oily food is one of the culprits for me.

  24. sesame says:

    Adjusting diet can be painful but can be worth it too.

  25. holly says:

    I have a wheat allery (celiac disease). If I eat anything with wheat or gluten, I get a rash and my scalp gets itchy when I use hair products with wheat oil/ protein.

  26. ktee says:

    For me, diet and healthy lifestyle both play a very important part in how my skin behaves. When i was on a healthy diet ie: 50% raw and slept by 10pm most of the nights, my skin looked so much better and hardly have any breakouts except for the time of the month..

  27. sesame says:

    Interesting sharing about the 50% raw diet. And sleep is definitely important!

  28. OSeñorita says:

    For me, it’s 80% internal and 20% external. My skin is greatly affected by what I eat. I’ve noticed that when I eat too much fried foods, my face gets oily. That’s why I don’t eat too much fried foods. I am more of a veggies and fruits person. And I drink lots of water. 20% external because, a little moisturizer in the dry areas like the knees, elbows and feet. And I also have allergies so I am very careful in what I take in and apply on my skin.

  29. sesame says:

    Your diet sounds good…a little bit of control in terms of the fried food and your skin will always remain clear. ?

  30. Swati says:

    I strongly believe in what goes inside shows out…topical treatments do affect but the effects fade away with time if discontinued…and skin doesn’t absorb even too much that topical treatments would do wonders as far as my belief goes…instead a proper controlled and balanced diet and regular exercise coupled with proper habits does wonders for the skin…of course not to forget the usual cleansing and moisturizing of the skin…

  31. sesame says:

    Yes, you’re absolutely right! For long term benefits, best to have a healthy diet and lifestyle.

  32. Heather says:

    For me food has a huge effect on my skin, the more natural foods I consume such as berries, fruits, green veggies (kale, spinach and the like) as well as organic meats the better my skin has become. I wash it daily and have very very fair skin so I have to be very protective outside from the sun. I live in the USA so I have a harder time finding some of the things you show on this site though I’d love to have them! I’m into the organic products and foods pretty heavily, but here people eat very badly and its pretty overwhelming. Really I stick to the idea that if it didn’t come from the ground, walk, or swim, then I wont eat it. Also, including four cups of green tea a day makes a huge difference in the acne area for me. In two weeks my acne has completely cleared!

  33. sesame says:

    Oh your diet sounds really healthy! Bravo to good, clear skin!

  34. Jyoan says:

    I think for me, it’s as much as 80% internal, 20% external, with the exception that too much consecutive makeup makes my face “dirty”.

    I do realise that fried food has an almost immediate effect on my skin, with a couple of breakouts within the week.

  35. sesame says:

    80% is pretty high…

  36. Swati says:

    I do think what we eat does show on the skin. Just as an experiment, refrain from drinking water for half a day and skin will be so dull and it will instantly revive if I drink loads of water and keep myself hydrated. Similarly, when I go back on nuts, my skin gets drier. Yes, what we apply externally also helps and sun protection from inside is more important than outside.

  37. sesame says:

    I agree…and water is important! I find my skin drier even when I drink too much tea, which is diuretic.

  38. Annie says:

    75% external and 25% internal for me. Maybe because i see immediate result with topical treatment and my skin generally is not that problematic. I rarely break out or have pimple, but around final weeks where i’m super stressed and my diet consist of ONLY artificial food like instant noodle, chips and beef jerky then i’ll develop some pimples and dull skin.
    I’m trying to change to a healthy diet consist of juicing, herbal tea and less artificial food. While I do not see much change in my skin, I do feel a lot better. Whenever my skin looks dull, i’ll just whip up some diy mask using rice flour or yogurt and i see instant result. So thats why it’s mostly external for me

  39. Sesame says:

    It’ll probably take awhile but the benefits are worth it. Also, if you don’t have problematic skin, then the results would not be obvious too but like you mentioned, you do feel healthy. ?

  40. Jack Maggard says:

    A proper combination of products applying to skin and food we eat is a perfect result we need.
    Jack Maggard last post is: Hello world!

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