Summer's Skin-Protecting Supplement (& Giveaway)

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[UPDATE: Giveaway closed. Congratulations to Taylor Callahan, winner via Instagram!]

Want to know one of my top summer skin secrets this year? I’ve been adding astaxanthin and its super potent UV defense benefits to my summer skin protection arsenal, in addition to my other favorite sun protective foods and mineral sunscreens. Astaxanthin (as-ta-zan-thin) is a mega powerful antioxidant to have in your diet for UV defense. The antioxidant levels of this deep red carotenoid pigment are actually among the most potent found in nature. While it doesn’t block UV rays, astaxanthin helps protect against UV-induced cell death, meaning that less damage accumulates in your skin whenever you’re exposed to the sun. One study show that after taking 4mg of astaxanthin every day for two weeks, about 20% more UV exposure was needed to create skin redness.

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Regardless of the season, astaxanthin supports youthful skin tone, texture, elasticity, and moisture levels. It neutralizes free radicals, protecting from oxidative damage that speeds up aging, and provides excellent nutrition for healthy eye and vision function.

You’ll find astaxanthin in wild sockeye salmon, shrimp, red trout, lobster, and crab, many of which feed on astaxanthin-packed microalgae. The whole food astaxanthin supplement I’ve been using from Pure Synergy contains organic red freshwater algae to deliver 6mg of astaxanthin in each capsule. (60 of these whole food capsules are $30.) It’s one I’ll be taking all summer long as I soak up the healing benefits of the sun!

To celebrate the arrival of summer, I’ve partnered with Pure Synergy to give away a bottle of this SuperPure Astaxanthin and a signed copy of Eat Pretty Every Day, which has a page of beauty inspiration for every day of the summer (and the rest of the year!). Leave a comment on this post or like and comment on my Instagram or Facebook posts by the end of the day on Sunday, June 23rd to enter to win this pair of summer essentials. [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Healing from the Hive

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Honey Love— and a Giveaway

I have a longstanding love affair with honey, and it’s no secret. I’ve come a long way— from the grocery store honey-filled bears of my childhood, to discovering local apiaries that source raw honey from their hives, to treasured jars of healing Manuka honey. I’ve probably slathered as much on my skin as I’ve ingested (raw honey masks were a key discovery during my blemish-filled years and to this day honey remains my #1 favorite skincare ingredient). Beyond honey (the raw variety is my personal fave), I love the nourishing, immune-supporting properties of bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly, which I’ve used for years and relied on for immune support while fighting late stage Lyme disease. There’s so much healing that comes from the hive. Read on for the beauty and health benefits of these bee-born ingredients, as well as an exciting giveaway from one of my favorite bee brands— Beekeeper’s Naturals!

Important note: those allergic to bee venom should proceed with caution. Check with your doctor before using products with bee-related ingredients to prevent allergic reaction.

HONEY: THE HYDRATOR

Suspend your skepticism for a moment and slather on the sticky stuff (be sure it’s raw, unheated honey, which packs the most active enzymes). Wait 20 minutes and rinse away with warm water- your skin will feel softer, tighter and more even. Honey may go on smooth, but it acts as a gentle exfoliant, with mild alpha hydroxy acids that loosen dead skin cells and refine pores for a rejuvenating effect. Combine this with honey’s ability to attract and retain moisture, its naturally-occurring antibacterial hydrogen peroxide and its antioxidant content, and you have a recipe for a natural line-reducer and blemish treatment. While all honey disinfects, the Manuka variety contains a special molecule that is even more potent in its ability to inhibit bacteria growth. It’s an incredible skin healer (with a history of being applied to wounds to speed healing) and potent antibacterial.

ROYAL JELLY: THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

The one lucky larva chosen to become queen bee enjoys lifelong nourishment with royal jelly, a nutritious, milky secretion from the glands of bees. As a result she lives a stunning 40 times longer than worker bees. The queen owes her longevity to the essential nutrients in royal jelly, among them 17 amino acids and a rich store of B complex vitamins and trace minerals. This crème de la crème of the hive is prized as a beauty ingredient for its anti-aging, cell-rejuvenating properties and as a wellness aid for its immune support and energy boost.

PROPOLIS: THE HEALER

Propolis remains the mystery of the hive, a blend of plant resins, wax and essential oils collected by bees to coat the hive as an antiseptic defense against foreign objects. Its role in skincare is similar: to eliminate unwanted bacteria and inflammation, thereby hastening the healing of scars, blemishes, even rashes and eczema. For whole-body health, propolis is prized for its immune-boosting properties and its content of healing flavonoids. It’s as effective as Nystatin against candida yeast, and can kill pathogens without disrupting the good bacteria in your body.

BEESWAX: THE SOFTENER

Beeswax is an emollient wax produced by bees that is rich in fatty acid esters and skin cell-supporting vitamin A. In the beauty world, beeswax is a natural, nontoxic substitute for petroleum jelly and a favored ingredient for lip balm, given the natural moisture barrier it forms on lips. Beeswax protects skin and seals in moisture- leaving you with noticeably softer skin on lips, elbows, cuticles- anywhere you apply.


Ready to try out some of these amazing benefits in and on your body? I’m giving away a set of 4 Beekeeper’s Naturals products that I personally use and love. One (1) lucky winner will receive: Propolis Throat Spray, Kids Propolis Throat Spray, Bee Powered (a mix of honey, bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly), and Raw Honey.

To enter to win, leave a comment on this post or on my Instagram giveaway post by 11:59 ET on Wednesday, January 30th. Winner will be announced on January 31st. Contest open to US residents only.

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The Vagus Nerve and its Keys to Wellness

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The vagus nerve may be the most subtly powerful part of your body that you’ve never heard of. Nicknamed the ‘wandering nerve,’ it originates in your brain stem and extends through your ears, tongue, heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and sex organs— among other organs— connecting them and creating a body-wide network of influence (the nerve splits as it descends through the body, enabling its extensive reach).

The vagus nerve is a part of your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, which promotes calm, hormone balance, positive mood, anti-inflammatory effects, immunity, and benefits to so many wide-ranging aspects of your health. I’ve been fascinated by the influence of the vagus nerve since I found it to be key for activating a calming response in my own autonomic nervous system, which has for years been disregulated by Lyme disease. And during my research and experimentation, it’s demonstrated itself to be powerful for beauty and wellbeing at large.

WHY IT HELPS

Stimulating or activating the vagus nerve helps switch on your parasympathetic nervous system and normalize the influential HPA axis. It influences your blood pressure and heart rate (both directly through the heart and via the kidneys) along with a spectrum of bodily functions, including digestion and feelings of satiety. I find it particularly amazing that the 90% of vagus nerve fibers send signals up to the brain from the digestive tract. And 10% of its fibers send brain signals to your gut relating to the secretion of stomach acid and enzymes. It’s a true illustration of the gut-brain axis communication!

You might reason that stimulating the vagus nerve can help you stay healthy, balanced, and calm— and you’re right. But I find the advice around how to stimulate the vagus nerve to be a bit confusing and overwhelming. You see, there are dozens of ways to stimulate it. Almost too many to keep track of. My advice would be to pick just one or two methods and practice them consistently.

Here are a few of my favorites, all of which I find inherently calming (perhaps because of their effect on the vagus nerve!):

  • Singing, humming or chanting.

  • Deep breathing from your abdomen, with a long, slow exhale.

  • Yoga.

  • Foot massage.

  • Meditation.

  • Increasing the beneficial bacteria in the gut (via fermented foods & probiotics!).

  • Acupuncture- especially ear acupuncture points.

  • Laughter.

I was also intrigued to see that OSEA just released a Vagus Nerve Oil meant to be applied to the back and right side of the neck to stimulate the vagus nerve and support vagus nerve health. I’ve been using it on my neck, as well as applying it to the center of my stomach (just beneath my ribs to above my bellybutton), where I can feel a calming effect from massage pressure. The blend of juniper, chamomile and lavender smells very grounding and is meant to diminish anxiety & stress and promote relaxation while stimulating positivity and wellbeing in the mind and body. I love discovering beauty products that have such a deep, holistic effect on my body and beauty— well done, OSEA!

KEEP GOING

Over time, stimulating the vagus nerve can help you achieve what is called ‘higher vagal tone,’ which improves blood sugar regulation and digestion, lowers blood pressure and inflammation, and can reduce migraines, depression and anxiety. Some treatments have gone so far as to implant a device that stimulates the vagus nerve with the goal of improving inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. One 2010 study found that higher vagal tone was linked to the cycle of positive emotions, physical health, and positive social connections— something we all strive for when it comes to wellness and beauty in our lives. And a 2018 study found that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) could be an important therapy for a range of conditions in the years ahead. I’d encourage you to think about your own vagus nerve health and the effect it could have on any inflammation, digestive issues, anxiety, or depression you might experience. Use some of these therapies consistently, and see how your own body responds to the calming effects.

 

Discover Group Coaching with Eat Pretty Together

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It's no secret that Eat Pretty readers are a passionate, knowledgeable, and driven group. They're trend-setters and leaders, constantly searching for new ideas, inspiration, and cutting-edge information to help them look and feel their best in their everyday lives. I've been inspired again and again by the community of women who have read and shared Eat Pretty, including health coaches, fitness pros, chefs, teachers, students—women of all walks of life and all places on the globe. But I've wanted to bring this dynamic group together in a more meaningful way, to build connection and support, and help us all live our best, most beautiful lives. 

That's why I've created Eat Pretty Together.

This virtual, global coaching group will meet twice monthly for an hour-long video lesson, Q&A, and discussion of all things beauty and wellness. Each month I'll guide you through a new focus topic, action steps to set and meet specific wellness goals, grocery lists, recipes, and daily connection via a private Facebook group. And at $99 a month, working with me via the Eat Pretty Together coaching group comes at 1/4 the starting cost of my one-on-one coaching programs.

The experience of connecting with so many of you in my daily Instagram Live videos this summer has finally pushed me to create a deeper way to connect and educate— and Eat Pretty Together is it! If you've ever thought about working with a coach to get motivated and make faster progress on your goals, this group program could be a perfect fit for you. Visit the Eat Pretty Together page to read all about the program content, schedule, and membership options

And if you're curious about how it will feel to be a part of this group program, please check out the replay of the free 30-minute preview call I hosted for the program.

 

If you watch the video, you'll see that there's a special limited time bonus for anyone who joins as a member of Eat Pretty Together for 3 months or more before the program start on 9/13— a 30-minute one-on-one strategy session with me, to outline your goals and set up action steps for you to achieve them! Check out membership options here.

Thank you for your support and inspiration; I hope to have you as a part of Eat Pretty Together for its September launch!

In beauty and health,
Jolene

Get Plastic Smart for Healthier Skin and Hormones

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Plastic is one of those inventions that has made our lives massively easier. It’s transformed and even saved lives in its many applications in the medical world. But like so many other good things, there can quickly become too much of it. Look around at your environment and scan through your daily routine for plastics. Do you see them popping up again and again—and again? In food and drink products, utensils, cookware, personal care, waste removal, laundry, home cleaning, clothing, accessories— maybe even your kids’ or pets’ bath or playtime? The number of times we’re exposed to various types of plastics day to day is pretty mind-blowing.

Now consider that we know many types of plastics (especially those labeled 3,6, and 7) leach hormone-disrupting compounds into your food, water, and products—those same foods and products that you eat and apply, countless times as the weeks and months go by. Many of these compounds act like estrogens in the body, or otherwise affect and disrupt the healthy balance of our hormones. When your hormones are out of balance, you might see breakouts, redness, and issues with skin texture, your body may hold onto excess weight or water, and you may have reproductive or fertility issues. Hormones have a major impact on our beauty and health!

So how can you get smarter about plastic for healthier skin and hormones?

Start with the big picture of your exposures, like I do with my clients who are just beginning to incorporate safer personal care. The goal is to raise consciousness (so you get smarter about the occasions when you choose plastics), and to cut back in areas that will make a big difference, without stressing you out. I’m going to guess that your food and drink is your biggest regular source of plastic exposure, whether you are conscious of it of not. 

One important thing to know: many compounds in plastic are lipophilic, meaning that they tend to combine with or dissolve readily in fats. This is why dairy products (even super high-quality ones!) and other naturally fatty foods (even if they're healthy fats) are not good to store in plastic. The recent news that powdered cheese is a major source of exposure to phthalates (one type of plastic compound) is not surprising, given that harmful compounds in plastics can concentrate in these types of foods during their production process.  

Here are 9 ways to make simple swaps that will reduce your exposure to hormone-disrupting compounds in plastics:

1. Swap plastic storage containers for glass or unlined stainless steel. Do this today! And never, ever put warm food in plastic or reheat food in plastic containers, which can cause plastic to break down and leach harmful compounds more quickly. If you must, put only cooled food into plastic, and get rid of plastic containers that are scratched and worn, since they may leach chemicals even more readily. Personally, I’ve made an effort to skip takeout from places that dump hot soups and curries into plastic or styrofoam— those can be a big source of hormone disrupting chemicals. And I use mason jars for a lot of my portable storage! For at home storage of leftovers, I use Snapware and Frigoverre glass containers, which are glass with plastic lids. 

2. Cut back on plastic wrap. Plastic wrap is super convenient, so we may never be able to ditch it 100%, but consider how often, and for how long, it comes into contact with your food. I don't like closely wrapping halves of veggies or fruits in plastic wrap, and I especially try to avoid wrapping products with fats (avocados, cheese and other dairy, etc.) with plastic wrap because of the tendency for those foods to store hormone-disrupting chemicals.

3. Choose personal care in glass or in BPA-free plastic labeled #1, 2, 4, or 5. Yes, your personal care products can be a concentrated source of plastic chemicals too, especially if they’re stored in plastic, and in hot environments like your bathroom. Opt for personal care stored in glass when it’s available, and then look for companies that consciously choose safer plastics for their products (Acure Organics is one company that I know of that aims to use safer plastics for this reason).

4. Toss your vinyl shower curtain in favor of cloth. Every time that soft plastic shower curtain heats up (every time you take a shower!), it releases plastic chemicals into your environment. A cloth shower curtain is a simple swap that’s also easy to clean (just throw it in the washing machine).

5. No more plastic water bottles. This is a big one. Plastic water bottles are a major source of chemical exposure— not to mention their awful impact on the environment. Treat yourself to a really nice glass or unlined stainless water bottle. If you forget your water bottle and need to grab a plastic one on occasion, don’t stress. But buying plastic water (or other beverage!) bottles by the case, drinking from them regularly, and reusing them again and again is a big don’t for beauty and health. One important thing to note: ‘BPA-free’ plastic doesn't mean ‘free of hormone disruptors.’ It just means that it has no BPA. Other compounds used as BPA substitutes may be just as harmful as BPA, so it’s best to minimize whenever you can. 

6. Be careful with fragrance. Synthetic fragrance is a major source of phthalates, plasticizing chemicals that are hormone disrupting compounds in the body. They’ve also been implicated in fertility and reproductive issues, autoimmune diseases, and asthma. Skip items fragranced with synthetic scents, and opt for natural scents—or none at all—instead.

7. Check your cooking tools. Plastics abound in the kitchen, from rubbery spatulas to plastic cutting boards and mixing bowls. Be careful which of your plastics come into contact with hot foods, and throw away old or worn plastics, which can leach harmful compounds more readily. Keep a stack of glass and stainless steel bowls for mixing, and use glass, metal, and ceramic for serving. 

8. Skip canned foods with BPA. Cans that contain BPA in their lining are Beauty Betrayers called out in Eat Pretty, since BPA mimics estrogen in the body and can alter our healthy hormone balance. Choose canned foods that are labeled BPA-free to support your best skin and hormone balance, and learn a few simple ways to make foods from scratch and skip cans altogether when you have time.

9. Buy fewer foods stored in plastics. This one is hard—it takes consciousness, and effort. But I'm working hard to implement this in my life as well! Opting for more whole foods, especially those stored without plastic containers and wraps, can be more beautifying for us all. 

You're Going to Love the UMA 7-Day All-Natural Challenge!

File this UMA 7-Day All-Natural Challenge under: things that are too good to miss!

Starting Monday, January 23rd, and running through Sunday, January 29th, the UMA 7-Day All-Natural Challenge is an inspiring, health- and beauty-boosting program developed by the lovely natural beauty company UMA, with the goal of getting YOU involved, and helping you get healthy and gorgeous this month.

Participating will get you some incredible rewards, in addition to feeling great after competing each day's healthy habit challenge. Everyone who participates for all 7 days and follows the challenge terms (below) will receive a $100 UMA Detox Bundle, which includes sample sizes of 3 of UMA's amazing masks and 2 gorgeous wellness oils. BUT you have to join the challenge and participate in all 7 days for your prize!

Here's all you need to know to participate and prepare:

To Participate

  1. Sign-up for UMA's email newsletter for challenge updates.
  2. Regram the challenge announcement post and rules on Instagram (Jan. 16) and tag a friend to join you in the challenge so they can win too!
  3. Regram UMA’s daily challenge photo for all 7 days with a blurb about how you participated in each day’s challenge, including the hashtag #UMAallnatural

Super easy, right? And here's how to play along:

Steps to Pure, Natural Lifestyle

  • Day 1 (1/23): Try oil pulling with coconut or sesame oil first thing in the morning to promote oral health rather than using mouthwash packed with cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Day 2 (1/24): Trade your daily cup of coffee for a metabolism-boosting, antioxidant-filled cup of herbal tea. Not only will you get a steadier energy boost, but you’ll be doing your skin a favor with tea’s inherent compounds that are great for skin elasticity and circulation.
  • Day 3 (1/25): Only eat non-processed food all day. Try one of our recipes if you need ideas!
  • Day 4 (1/26): Use only beauty products with ingredients you can pronounce.
  • Day 5 (1/27): Detox your body with warm lemon water in the morning to improve digestion, support liver detoxification, and reduce bloating. Have a spoonful of flaxseed oil before bed to flush out toxins and get a boost of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Day 6 (1/28): Pre-shower, stimulate your lymphatic system and boost circulation with dry brushing. Dedicate 3-5 minutes to massage the body with firm, small strokes in a circular motion towards the heart, starting from the feet and working your way up to the neck and face. At night, give your body a rub down with the oil that best suits your dosha. Discover yours via the link in our bio.
  • Day 7 (1/29): Meditate for 5 minutes with the help of an essential oil. Sandalwood, frankincense, and chamomile are especially soothing. Any of our Wellness Oils will do the trick, especially our grounding Gorgeous for Good blend! Essential oils will help you reach a meditative state and promote focus, clarity, and relaxation. Not quite ready for meditation? Just try switching out your perfume for an essential oil with luscious scent notes to reap the benefits all-day long.Commit to the all-natural life with us! Each day of the challenge, we’re asking you to take an actionable step towards a healthier lifestyle. Let’s hold each other accountable and start treating our bodies better together.

Prize

Everyone that participates in all 7 days of the challenge, following the challenge terms, will receive an UMA Detox Bundle valued at $100.

Challenge Terms

  • Must follow @umaoils on Instagram
  • Must be signed up the UMA email list
  • Must regram contest announcement post and rules (1 week prior) and tag a friend to join
  • Must regram UMA’s daily challenge photo all 7 days with a blurb about how you participated in each day’s challenge
  • Must use the hashtag #UMAallnatural on every photo
  • Followers that participate in all 7 days will receive a Detox Bundle valued at $100
  • One entry per person
  • Open internationally to public accounts only
  • Competition close date: January 29, 2017

Challenge Dates

  • Challenge Announcement: January 16, 2017
  • 7-Day Challenge: January 23-29, 2017
  • Close Date: January 29, 2017
  • Announce Winners: January 30, 2017

Ready to get going? Me too. I cant wait to see you posting and re-gramming your challenge photos starting 1/23! #UMAallnatural

x, Jolene

Win a Whole Foods Gift Card and Vitamix Blender!

Epic giveaway alert!

I'm so excited to announce that I've gathered together a collection of key tools for beauty—and you can win them, along with a copy of Eat Pretty Every Day, this January.

Here's what's being given away—just what you need to make 2017 your most beautiful year yet:

  • a copy of Eat Pretty Every Day & limited edition frame-able recipe print
  • a $200 Whole Foods Market gift card (one of my favorite places to shop for beautifying food!)
  • A Vitamix 5200 Series blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools!)

It's all available to win in the 2017 'New Year, New You' Eat Pretty giveaway. And it's super-simple to enter: just enter your info on the giveaway page here: http://budurl.com/epedgiveaway

US residents can enter to win this amazing package of beautifying tools until January 27th, 2017. Giveaway sponsored in part by Whole Foods Market.

Join Me for a Holiday Celebration at Credo Beauty!

If you'll be in NYC on Thursday, December 8th, I'd love for you to join me and makeup artist Rebecca Casciano for an evening of natural beauty for the holidays at Credo Beauty Soho! I'll be signing books as well as sharing my favorite tips for glow—now and into the new year. Info and rsvp link below!

Support Healthy Skin with Topical Probiotic Power

For decades now, cleaning the surface of our skin has been a collective obsession. Germ-free, dirt-free, and oil-free is how we have come to imagine our skin's ideal state, so we scrub, suds, and lather up like crazy. But, as it happens, we have it all wrong. Gorgeous, radiant, healthy skin has a natural balance of oil and bacteria—and a lot of it.

More than 100 trillion microbes live in and on us, influencing so many of the core functions of our bodies that relate to beauty. On our skin, these microbes impact inflammation, immune defense, allergies and sensitivities, and the health of the skin barrier, which is directly related to the radiance and clarity of our complexions—right down to issues like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles! As you might imagine, cultivating and maintaining a healthy population of good bacteria on the skin is one secret to radiance that we're just now beginning to understand. 

I've been a major advocate of probiotics (both via supplements and food) for beauty since i started my own journey to clear my skin many years ago. My microbiome had been negatively impacted by poor diet, food allergies, and antibiotics, and a combo of probiotics and fermented foods helped me restore the health of my skin by rebuilding those beneficial microbes. Probiotic supplements may be yesterday's news, but probiotic treatments for the surface of the skin are actually a brand new thing.

You may say that you've already seen 'probiotic skin care,' but those products (unless refrigerated to maintain their probiotic bacteria) are erroneously named. These products are often effective because they contain prebiotics—ingredients that feed and support probiotic bacteria—but they don't contain probiotics themselves. Both the preservatives in these formulas and lack of refrigeration kill off probiotic bacteria, so they're not delivering probiotics to the surface of your skin.

But—I've found a topical product that does contain live probiotic bacteria! It's called LiviaOne Daily Liquid Probiotics Topical Spray. This water-based organic spray applies just like a toner or hydration mist, albeit one that's packed with 12 strains of probiotic bacteria. This spray gets shipped to you with a cold pack to maintain the live bacteria inside, and you store it in the fridge. I've used it for calming irritated skin and stopping a yeast infection—both cases a huge success! This spray also benefits oral health (sore throat, cavities, mouth sores), as well as skin irritation, infections, and sensitivity. I think it's such an amazing product innovation and imagine that there will be many more products like this to come in the short-term future.

Now you might ask: couldn't you get topical probiotic benefits from applying fermented foods to your face instead? Totally, but if you applied, say, fermented sauerkraut to your face, you'd stink and your skin would freak out from the extra acid and salt. This spray prevents all of that, and it's a great option for restoring healthy bacteria on the skin, rather than stripping it away.

You can purchase this LiviaOne topical spray (2 oz for $29.95) on Amazon or at liviaglobal.com. It should be shipped to you with a cold pack, then kept in the fridge, to protect its probiotic bacteria.

Best Foods to Eat for the Skin Issues You're Seeing

What foods should you reach for if your skin concern is acne? How about dullness, dryness, discoloration or wrinkles? Rosacea or eczema? Don't miss this excellent Shape article on the foods to eat—and avoid—to target major skin conditions from the inside out. I chatted with Shape for this info-packed piece, and hope that it inspires you to add (or remove) some foods that can truly impact the skin you see in the mirror!

READ: The 8 Best Foods for Skin Conditions

Images via Shape.com