Every day, your body does battle with environmental pollutants and toxins--and your looks are the ultimate losers. "Pollutants can dry out skin, and carbon monoxide and ozone can damage your complexion's protective barrier and lead to aging, redness, and irritation," says Dennis Gross, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. It's enough to make anyone crawl inside a BPA-free plastic bubble. Fortunately, experts say a few small changes to your diet and beauty care routine can give your hair and skin a detoxifying beauty boost. Here's how:
1) Be Choosy about Meat and Cheese. "Hormones in traditionally produced dairy, poultry, and meat may contribute to acne," says Katie Rodan, MD, a dermatologist in the San Francisco Bay area. "My patients who eat those less frequently--or at least choose grain-fed beef and poultry and organic dairy--often notice their skin looks better."
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2) Cut Back On Sugar. Refined sugar causes a process called glycation, which can damage the collagen and elastin that keep skin firm and youthful, according to pharmacist and homeopath Margo Marrone, owner of the Organic Pharmacy. Try all-natural stevia, an easily digested herbal sweetener that doesn't trigger glycation, according to board-certified dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, MD, an adjunct professor of medicine at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine.
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3) Eat For Alkalinity. Cleansing your body from the inside out isn't all about what you can't have. Kimberly Snyder, a Los Angeles nutritionist and author of The Beauty Detox Solution ($10; amazon.com), says she sees a big improvement in her clients' skin and hair when they eat more alkaline-forming foods, such as parsley, almonds, kale, pears, lemons, and apples. "If your body is too acidic, which can happen when your diet is unbalanced, it leaches the alkaline minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, that allow us to have strong, healthy bones, teeth, and hair," Snyder explains.
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4) Start Fresh With Clay. To remove pore-clogging sebum and skin-drying heavy-metal residue from tap water, Marrone suggests applying a clay mask, like Ren Pore Minimizing Detox Mask ($34; renskincare.com). "Clay's negative charge attracts the positive charge of the impurities and pulls them toward the skin's surface, where they're whisked away when you remove the mask," she says.
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5) Exfoliate Daily. Rather than scrubbing vigorously once a week--and irritating your skin in the process--Dr. Rodan suggests doing the deed daily to slough away the dead skin cells that dull your complexion. "Switch to a cleanser with tiny exfoliating particles," she says. "They should be so small you can't see them, but you can feel them when you wash." Try Aveeno Smart Essentials Daily Detoxifying Scrub ($7; drugstore.com) or Benefit Refined Finish Facial Polish ($22; benefitcosmetics.com).
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6) Try Chelators. "Our skin absorbs heavy metals every day, and they can diminish the health and beauty of skin," Dr. Gross says. Worn daily under moisturizer, a serum with chelators, such as Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hydra-Pure Firming Serum ($95; dgskincare.com), counteracts these effects. "Chelators are a class of ingredients that detoxify existing buildup and prevent new damage," Dr. Gross explains.
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7) Keep Skin Pure. Once you've got a clean slate, so to speak, maintain it by applying a moisturizer with sunscreen and antioxidants, such as Bliss Fabulous Face Lotion with SPF 15 ($35; blissworld.com), every morning. The antioxidants neutralize free radicals that damage skin, according to Dr. Rodan. The sunscreen...well, if you don't know what that does by now, you have been living in a plastic bubble. Still, the importance of SPF can't be understated: "If you go outside unprotected, there's no point in taking anti-aging measures, because the sun is the biggest source of inflammation, premature aging, and free-radical formation," Dr. Rodan says.
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