A Model-Turned Beauty Nutritionist Shares Her Top 5 Skin Nutrients

Photo: Frances Phillips

Having spent over a decade working as a model while also struggling with her own skin problems, registered nutritional therapist Frances Phillips now offers private nutrition consultations and is a freelance health and natural beauty writer. Frances resides in London, where her practice is based.

People often ask me about the best food they can eat to transform their skin. Unfortunately there isn’t just one "cure-all" miracle food. Nutrients work synergistically so one without another isn’t going to do a lot. That’s why a varied diet is always by far the best way to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients. That being said, there are certain nutrients which directly benefit the skin. While this list is in no way exhaustive, here are my top five and what to eat to ensure you’re getting enough of them…

Keep reading for five nutrients that will nourish your skin.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash


I’ve spent most of my adult life living in some of the busiest and polluted cities in the world. While I love being a city dweller, I’m conscious of the level of pollution I’m exposed to on a daily basis. Antioxidants are a key form of defense as they protect against free radicals, aka the unstable chemicals in our environment that can cause premature aging. They protect our collagen and elastin, vital proteins that maintain elasticity as well as increasing blood flow to the surface of our skin to help achieve that glow. The main ones to look out for are vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, and resveratrol.

Find them in: All fruit and vegetables. Try to eat as much variety as possible. This is where that whole "eat a rainbow" idea comes from. Some of my favorites include blueberries, cherries, sweet potato, and acai.

sous-vide cooking
Photo: Stocksy/Jamie Grill Atlas

Omega-3 fatty acids

Making sure there are enough omega-3 fatty acids in the diet ensures skin stays hydrated and plump. Omega-3 is also anti-inflammatory so great for calming skin or helping in inflammatory conditions such as acne and eczema. It’s also essential for skin healing. Almost all the clients I see with any kind of skin disorder usually benefit from supplementing with a good quality fish oil.

Find them in: Wild caught oily fish such as salmon or mackerel or in a good quality fish oil supplement. Vegan sources include chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.

bell pepper
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Vitamin C

Vitamin C, while also being an antioxidant, is getting a special shout out due to the key role it plays in collagen formation and synthesis. Topical vitamin C products are also having a moment right now. I recommend both topical and dietary sources for maximum effect. Our bodies can’t store vitamin C so it’s important to regularly include sources of it in our diet.

Find it in: Fruits and vegetables (ideally raw as cooking can destroy the vitamin C). Some of my favorites include strawberries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, and basil.

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It’s understood that the health of our gut is directly linked to the health of our skin. Most people are now aware of the benefits of probiotics when it comes to gut health but may not know they’re also great for your skin too! You may have noticed that some skin care brands have even started to include them in their formulations.

Find them in: Fermented foods and drinks such as kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, or in supplement form.

The best foods to eat when you have a headache
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More than anything, the most instant effect you can have on your skin is by drinking enough water. Everyone has a different optimal amount but I usually recommend around two liters of filtered water sipped throughout the day. Your skin is considered a "non-vital" organ as your body prioritizes other essential bodily processes in order to keep you alive. Since your skin is lowest on the priority list, you have to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts to see the benefits!

Find it in: Water (obviously) and caffeine-free herbal teas, but also foods with a high water content such as watermelon, celery, and cucumber.

Now that you know what to eat for glowing skin, check out the foods that will keep your hair strong and shiny. Or, you could go all-out and try The Beauty Diet.

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