One of the most common questions I get is “What do you do for your skin?” And while I have a lot more to share than just “beauty secrets,” this question never annoys me, because truth be told… I am incredibly proud of my skin!

My skin didn’t always look like it does now. This is me at 22 – when I went from clear skin to horrible acne. At the age when most people’s teenage breakouts were ending, mine were just beginning. 

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Let’s skip to the good part – here I am today: 

photo of brie photo of brie

So how did I get here? It wasn’t one special product, a miracle facial, or just “growing out of it.” I learned quickly that glowing, clear, youthful skin starts internally. 

Yes, products can be fun (I love my nighttime routine) – but if you want gorgeous skin, you have to start on the inside. 

What finally worked for me was a combination of:

  • Addressing hormone imbalances (I have PCOS)
  • Switching up my diet (I was eating way too many carbs and not enough protein as a vegetarian)
  • Healing my adrenals and gut
  • Using Chinese medicine to speed healing and prevent long-term damage

(Learn more about acne and PCOS here.)

These principles not only helped me clear my skin back then – but now more-years-than-you’d-probably-guess later, they’re the same principles I use to keep my skin youthful and glowing. 

Yep – the real “beauty secret” has nothing to do with fancy products, lasers, or needles. It’s all about what’s happening inside! Let’s dig into what really matters for beautiful skin – and how you can achieve it. 

 

6 Factors that Actually Matter for Naturally Youthful Skin

How our skin ages is about both our genetics and the environment in which those genes exist. That means having good genes isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for caring for your skin – and it also means even if you’re genetically predisposed to less-than-perfect skin, you’re not a lost cause! 

If you want to change the look or feel of your skin, there are 6 factors to focus on:

  • Gut health
  • Oxidative stress & inflammation
  • Hydration
  • Omega 3 & 6 balance
  • Liver health
  • Hormone balance

Let’s go through each of these and explain it a bit and I’ll offer some easy, right-now things you can do to optimize each one.

 

Factor 1: The Gut

Younger skin literally starts in the gut. As you probably know, the gut isn’t just where food is digested – it’s home to the gut microbiome, a stronghold of beneficial bacteria that play a massive role in the proper function of almost every aspect of the body. 

Research has shown that various species of probiotic bacteria found in the gut impact everything from UV damage and repair to acne. Skin barrier function, hair growth, oil production, and the acidity of skin are all impacted by the bacteria of the gut microbiome. 

A healthy gut – meaning a diverse, healthy microbiome, healthy gut cells, and intact, tight junctions (no leaky gut) – has been proven beneficial in the prevention or treatment of:

  • Inflammatory skin diseases
  • Acne 
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea
  • Aging skin changes
  • Hair loss
  • Some pigmentary disorders

If you have any history of gut symptoms or digestive issues, or a history of skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, or acne, I recommend starting with a comprehensive stool test like GI Map and a Parawellness parasite and pathogen test. With my clients, these tests are often the first step in a customized gut-healing protocol.

If you don’t have digestive symptoms, or have already resolved your digestive issues, the Biome Fx test by Microbiome Labs is a great way to better understand the bacteria living in your microbiome so that you can strategically supplement to tweak and optimize your microbiome for overall well-being, longevity, and glowing skin.

 

Factor 2: Oxidative Stress & Inflammation

Oxidative stress is what literally kills us all. Oxidative stress occurs when unstable molecules called free radicals outnumber stabilizing antioxidants, creating a state of inflammation and “cellular aging.” Free radicals are created both by your body (as a result of normal metabolism) and are found environmentally in things like pollution and UV light from the sun. 

Research has shown oxidative stress plays a major role in the skin’s aging process both internally and externally. Sun spots, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation are all a direct result of oxidative stress. 

To assess oxidative stress levels in my clients I rely on the ION Panel and Organix Organic Acids testing to assess antioxidant and nutrient levels. 

The best defense against oxidative stress is to minimize free radicals and increase antioxidants. Some easy ways to do that are to:

NAD+ is especially important – it’s a coenzyme essential for cellular energy and mitochondrial health, two key factors of anti-aging. If you’ve heard a lot of buzz lately about niacinamide as a skincare ingredient, here’s why: it converts to NAD+ down the line! NAD+ levels naturally decline with age, so supplementing can be especially helpful. I like a liposomal NAD+, which is the best absorbed. 

Vitamin C can be used internally and topically – this one absorbs well through the skin and results show in a matter of weeks.

Because many people have genetic SNPs that impede the transformation of beta carotene (found in plants like carrots) to bioavailable forms of vitamin A, I use a product like Acnutrol or Hi-Po Emulsi D3. (If you’re wondering if this or other genetic SNPs are impacting your health, I can help – book a call to learn how we use data from over-the-counter DNA tests like 23andMe to unlock the next level of health.)

Finally, be sure you’re eating plenty of foods high in antioxidants like:

  • Fatty Fish
  • Avocados 
  • Organic nuts and seeds – especially walnuts and sunflower seeds (for healthy fats, vitamin E, and zinc) 
  • Tomatoes, which contain lycopene
  • Blueberry (and other berries like pomegranate and raspberry)
  • Spinach and other leafy greens
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Green Tea
  • Bone Broth
  • Lemon
  • Turmeric

And don’t forget to make sure you’re getting adequate protein! Proteins are needed to regenerate the skin, protect skin integrity and prevent sagging.

 

Factor 3: Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!

Almost everyone I work with is chronically dehydrated. Dehydration isn’t just about a lack of water – it’s also about a lack of electrolytes and minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, chloride, and phosphate. Electrolytes help draw water into the skin, deeply hydrating the aquaporins, the intricate system of channels in the skin that control hydration. Without adequate hydration and electrolyte levels, skin becomes dehydrated and looks dull and lifeless.

What can you do about this? Simple: go refill your water bottle! It’s essential that you’re drinking clean, filtered water – I highly recommend a home filtration system like Berkey, which is what I use personally. 

Also consider adding a pinch of natural mineral sea salt or an electrolyte product like BodyBio Electrolytes to your water. 

You might also see skincare products infused with electrolytes, but it’s actually much more efficient to balance electrolytes internally by consuming them. Remember, your skin is an outward expression of your internal health!

 

Factor 4: Omega 3 & 6 Balance

Omega 3 and 6 are two types of essential fatty acids that can have major impacts on your skin.

Omega 3 regulates the skin’s oil production, balances hydration, and minimizes breakouts and signs of aging, and soothes skin irritation. Research has shown that taking fish oil, a potent source of Omega 3, can help protect against skin cancer and UV damage.

Omega 6 improves skin moisture, firmness and elasticity. It can reduce transepidermal water loss and improve the skin barrier, making it especially beneficial for eczema and dry skin. Research has also shown its anti-inflammatory qualities can help clear acne. 

While Omega 3 and 6 both have benefits, for maximum benefit they need to be in balance. Most people have far more Omega 6 than 3, and need extra support getting balanced. The ION Panel can show you where you are, and 500 mg of Omega 3 or 2 servings of fatty fish per week can help bring balance. If you’re supplementing, I recommend a purified, tested fish oil like OmegaMonoPure. (Please contact our office for a shopping cart) Studies have shown 3x higher absorption with OmegaMonoPure compared to other brands. 

 

Factor 5: Liver Health and Detox

When you think of skin health, you probably don’t think of the liver – but you should! The liver and the skin are both part of the body’s larger detox system. When the liver becomes overburdened, it often presents through the skin as rashes or eczema, acne, premature or accelerated wrinkling, brownish “liver spots”, and lack of youthful tone and elasticity. 

The liver’s main job is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract to obtain nutrients and remove toxins and waste products from the blood, detoxify chemicals, and metabolize drugs that are secreted into bile for elimination. Today, our livers have to work much harder than they ever have before to detox the slew of chemicals, pesticides, solvents, and plastic-related compounds present in the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in, foods we eat and personal products we use every day. Skincare and beauty products in particular often contain estrogen-mimicking chemicals that must be metabolized and eliminated by the liver.

In addition, I see many people struggle with toxins generated from internal pathogens like candida overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, mycotoxins from mold, and viral pathogens. 

Using the ION Panel, I can actually see exactly how my clients’ detox pathways are functioning. Two markers I look at are antioxidant status and organic acids. Having looked at thousands of these results with my clients, I see a direct correlation with antioxidant status and external signs of aging. Those who seem to “not age” usually have the highest antioxidant levels, and those with early signs of aging have the lowest. 

Eating lots of antioxidant-rich foods (see the list above) can help protect your liver cells from damage and allow for completion of phase 2 detoxification by a series of enzymatic pathways in the liver. The antioxidants also help to protect your skin cells from free radicals, and therefore premature aging. 

(Want to learn more about detox? Make sure you’re subscribed to my email list to receive my upcoming deep dive article on detox! Sign up for emails here.)

 

Factor 6: Hormone Health

This topic is one close to my heart. Your skin health is often a direct expression of your hormone health. One of the most common things I see is a correlation between PCOS and acne, like I experienced personally. You can learn more about PCOS and acne here

But acne is not the only way hormones can affect your skin! Both estrogen and progesterone impact skin integrity as we age. Low levels of these hormones can result in dryness and the appearance of premature signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of tone. Estrogen and progesterone can also impact hyper and hypopigmentation. Low DHEA is another hormone issue I keep an eye out for, as it can slow skin repair.

For suspected hormone issues, I always start with a comprehensive hormone test. My favorite is the DUTCH panel, which gives a far more in-depth and comprehensive look at hormone levels than a typical blood test can. Once we know exactly what the imbalance is, I create a customized protocol to return your hormones to harmony. 

 

Do This Now For Better Skin

Keeping in mind all the factors discussed, there are some simple steps you can start taking today for better skin:

#1 Optimize Nutrients

Vitamins A, C, D, E, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), calcium, magnesium, biotin, selenium and zinc are some of the most important nutrients for skin health. Vitamin C, zinc, copper, manganese and silica are cofactors for the production of collagen and keratin, which help keep hair and skin supple and strong. Eating a diet with lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies can help provide many of these essential nutrients. 

Two other supplements I recommend are fish oil for Omega 3s (please contact our office for a shopping cart) and a collagen supplement, paired with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid for the best results.

#2 Add Probiotics

Multiple studies have found that specific probiotics can help protect the skin from sun damage. In one study, the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus johnsonii NCC 533 (La1), provided protection from UV rays. In another, probiotics actually reversed existing sun damage. 

#3 Try Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbal formulas have been used to slow aging and stimulate repair for thousands of years. General beauty and anti-aging herbs include goji berries, tremella fungus, green tea, Dong Quai (Chinese Angelica), He Shou Wu, Ginseng (Asian Ginseng), Schisandra, and Pearl Powder. 

For best results, Chinese medicine formulas need to be personalized for your skin conditions and your constitution. A trained Chinese herbalist will assess your skin – is it dry, and easy to wrinkle? That’s a sign you need to nourish Yin. Do you have sagging? That tells us spleen Qi will need support as well. Rashes and redness? Clear heat. This is how custom formulations can be made. (Need help with this? Book a free consultation with my team here.) 

 

What About Products?

I love skin care products as much as the next girl – but the truth is that products simply aren’t as important as what is going on internally. Products and external practices like microneedling should always be a compliment to what’s going on inside.

That being said, here’s some of what I use and recommend:

  • DRMTLGY Needle-Less Serum – this is wonderful for fine lines and collagen! Studies have shown it produces a 15% reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and volume in only 2 weeks and 190% increase in elastin production after 11 days. 
  • DRMTLGY Vitamin C E + F to reduce fine lines, decrease hyperpigmentation and provide strong antioxidant protection. 
  • Skin Saint Tretinol .5% Renewal Serum and The Dream Eye Cream include safe and effective levels of retinol plus vitamin C to reduce dark circles, promote collagen production, and improve fine lines 
  • Anything by Biologique Research – but these products should be prescribed by a licensed esthetician trained in the use of the products. 
  • A high-quality sunscreen (I like Supergoop).
  • I also love microneedling, facial gua sha and cupping. A microneedling tool like this one makes it easy to get started and this is the cupping and gua sha kit I use.

Need more guidance on cupping and gua sha? Watch my three how-to videos below to get started:

Health Looks Good On You

Good health glows – it shows in your hair, nails, mood, and of course, your skin. If you want to look better, you need to start with feeling better!

So if you’re looking in the mirror and not loving what you see… don’t go spend a fortune on new products. It’s not the answer! Instead, consider booking a no-obligation consult with my team. Let’s uncover what isn’t working in your health, right the wrongs, and get you that glowing-from-the-inside look you really want!

>>> Let’s talk! Book a free consult here

Modern medicine does a great job of healing acute diseases, but a poor job of looking at the bigger picture and helping you optimize your health so that your most vibrant version of you can shine. That’s where I can help. Book your free session now to learn more!