Most of us know vaguely that things like ‘minerals’ and ‘vitamins’ are supposed to be good for our skin and our health in general. However, we aren’t sure what minerals for skin we should specifically look for, nor are we adequately informed what our skin actually needs in order for it to look the way we would like it to look.
As a result, we may begin to feel tempted to try a multitude of skincare products or beauty supplements in the hopes that they’ll be just the thing we’re looking for. Unfortunately, that can tend to be a hit-and-miss approach if we cast too wide a net.
Let’s try to take at least some of the guesswork out of the picture by looking at five minerals our skin really needs, and even get more of – whether it be in our diet or in our skincare routine – and how we might go about doing that.
Zinc is a highly important trace element in the human diet, and zinc deficiencies have been linked to a myriad of health issues. A lack of dietary zinc can impact, among other things, the health of one’s skin; this can give rise to issues such as acne, flaky skin, and eczema. If you are lacking zinc in your diet, you would also be missing out on the mineral’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
These are used in skincare as they help to reduce the oxidative damage to skin caused by free radicals – in case you are unfamiliar with the term, ‘free radicals’ are unstable molecules that individuals gain exposure to in the course of their daily lives from a variety of sources such as air pollution, and alcohol; researchers largely believe that free radicals are the primary cause of aging processes in the skin and elsewhere in the body.
Zinc has also been found to accelerate the healing of damaged skin, and to have a protective effect on the skin from UVA radiation – you might have noticed that photoprotective zinc oxide is a common inclusion in the formulas of mainstream sunscreens, labeled as reflective sunscreen.
If you suspect that you might not be getting enough zinc in your diet, consider incorporating foods such as crab, oysters, beef and cashew nuts into your meals, as these are some of the richest sources of dietary zinc available.
This is another mineral that can play a beneficial role both when included in your diet as well as in your skincare routine. For instance, a study conducted on the magnesium-rich salts of the Dead Sea has shown that a fifteen-minute bath containing the salts calmed inflammation of the skin. The bath also improved skin hydration and strengthened the skin’s water barrier, helping to retain moisture. And if you are in need of even more hydration for your skin, you could read up on the ingredients of the different skincare products you have in mind, looking out for formulations containing a combination of magnesium and ceramides – this combination, too, has been found to be effective in delivering much-needed hydration to skin.
Much like zinc, magnesium in the diet is vital for human health and can have antioxidant effects. It has also been shown to be helpful in alleviating allergic skin reactions. To get more of this mineral in your diet, eat more of foods such as almonds, sunflower seeds, tofu, and spinach.
One study on the relationship between dietary nutrients and the appearance of skin aging in middle-aged American women found that individuals who had significantly lower potassium intakes, amongst other things, were more likely to have ‘a wrinkled appearance’. This does make sense considering the fact that potassium is yet another dietary mineral with antioxidant properties – therefore, if you are trying to come up with a diet and skincare plan that focuses on anti-aging treatments and strategies, you might find it useful to incorporate more potassium into your diet.
There are also people who find that a potassium-rich diet helps to control water retention; according to these groups of people, the mineral helps to stabilize the electrolyte balance in their bodies. You can reap the benefits of potassium by consuming more of such foods like bananas, avocados, tomatoes, canned bamboo shoots, and potatoes. And when it comes to topical applications, formulations containing potassium, and the compounds containing that mineral, appear to have used in treating conditions such as acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis, so look out for this mineral in your future potential skincare product purchases if this is something you’re looking to address.
You might have noticed that copper compounds have become common inclusions in the skincare product formulations of recent years; ingredients like copper complexes, copper PCA (short for ‘pyrrolidone carboxylic acid’) and copper peptides have been advertised in numerous recent product releases. There is one compound, in particular, copper oxide, which has been found to be particularly beneficial to skin – numerous studies have found it to be effective in accelerating the healing of damaged skin, as well as in addressing several skin concerns, such as in improving the elasticity of skin, and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
And when it comes to the role of copper in the diet, you could say in a way that copper is crucial for not just good skin, but skin as a whole. That’s because, in order to synthesize one of the major structural components of your skin, which is a protein called elastin, your body needs to have an adequate amount of copper available. In order to take care of your skin at this fundamental level, eat more of foods such as garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds, chicken liver and beef liver; they are all good sources of this mineral.
To some, the smell of sulphur is associated with rotten eggs – pungent and repulsive. To a few others, however, the smell is pleasantly earthy and volcanic, though strong. If you are part of the former group, and you’re not feeling particularly excited about being in close proximity to more sulphur, hearing a little bit about its powerful skincare benefits could just change your mind. This mineral is antifungal and antibacterial, and it’s good for treating oily, itchy and irritated skin as well as acne.
In one study, a cleanser containing 3% sulphur was part of a skincare routine that helped to significantly reduce the appearance of acne in the group of participants. And though it smells strong, adverse skin reactions to the topical sulphur application are noted to be rare, meaning that topical use of this mineral should be suitable for most skin types.
Just as with the other minerals, sulphur, too, has health benefits in the diet and protective properties against oxidative stress. In particular, sulphur-containing amino acids have been found to play a protective role against free radical damage. Some foods that are rich in sulphur are apple cider vinegar, eggs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and garlic (when crushed or cut).
As you can see, these five minerals have a myriad of beneficial properties to impart to your skin, whether they are included in your diet or in the formulations of the skincare products you use. When you look at the skincare concerns you’re facing while keeping the beneficial effects of each mineral in mind, you can begin to develop some idea of what might be lacking in the food you eat and in your skincare routine. This list is by no means exhaustive, and you may have noticed in any case that the mineral-rich foods recommended here are the varieties of foods that are already often considered generally ‘healthy’, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and organ meats – in general, what’s good for the rest of your body tends to be good for your skin as well.
It is also absolutely crucial to note, however, that when it comes to certain minerals, there can be too much of a good thing. When an overly high concentration of some minerals are applied to skin and absorbed into the bloodstream, or when these minerals are over-supplemented in the skin supplement, this can impair the absorption of other minerals (for instance, taking too much zinc can impact the body’s uptake of copper) and even be toxic to our bodies. Furthermore, diets low in minerals such as potassium and copper are sometimes necessary and beneficial for those suffering from specific illnesses. Take the information in this article as a general guide to what certain minerals can offer your skin and the directions in which you can take your research to find out what exactly your skin needs – but don’t forget to consult your doctor and/or dermatologist before making radical changes to your diet and skincare regimen.
Recipe for getting your minerals
Aside from applying minerals on your skin, here is a smoothie recipe (created by Black Paint Singapore’s team) to get these key minerals in to your system!
Mineral-rich Cocoa Smoothie
- A handful of walnuts (about 10 pieces)
- 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 large banana
- 1-2 kiwi fruits (depending on how sweet or sour you want your smoothie to be)
- 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon brown rice powder (or vegetable protein powder of choice)
- 1.5 cups water
Instructions and steps to blend your smoothie!
- In a grinder (or with a mortar & pestle), grind walnuts & sunflower seeds together, until a granulated texture.
- Mix all ingredients together in to a blender.
- Adjust taste with cocoa powder or fruits. Honey can be used as a sweetener if required.
This mineral-rich recipe is also great as a breakfast option, as its super filling! (Great for weight management, too!). Best served chilled. Enjoy!