Biohacking is the hot new buzzword in every health and nutrition blog online, but what exactly does it mean? According to Webster’s dictionary, biohacking is “biological experimentation done to improve the qualities or capabilities of living organisms (1).”
That sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie! What does that have to do with my skin?
In layman’s terms, biohacking implies changing the environment around you and inside of you in order to control your biology and improve your body. Certain techniques can be used to improve your work performance (2), while others specifically target mental health (3).
Today we will focus on certain biohacking strategies which have been scientifically proven to improve your complexion and the overall wellbeing of your skin.
What to drink
Needless to say, your diet is going to have a significant impact on your complexion. It is important to get plenty of essential nutrients and avoid harmful compounds.
Water is crucial! Many studies have shown how skin hydration is essential for its appearance, protection, complexion, softness, and barrier functions (4).
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that daily fluid intake recommendations vary according to age, sex, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status (5). However, the recommended intake of total water for young men and women (ages 19 to 30 years) is 3.7 L and 2.7 L per day, respectively (6). Remember, total water refers to beverages as well as fluids found within solid food.
Surprisingly, coffee has also been positively linked to skin health. One study showed higher coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of melanoma (7), while another praised its ability to prevent photoaging (8).
On the other hand, you should limit your consumption of alcohol. It has been linked to systemic inflammation and is a risk factor for sunburn, melanoma, and nonmelanoma skin cancer (9).
What to eat
Beverages aren’t the only aspect of your diet you should pay attention to. Ensuring you have a high intake of antioxidants is also crucial.
The sun and environmental pollutants lead to photoaging, oxidative stress, acne, and even cancer. Oral antioxidants are known to counteract the harmful effects of UV radiation and to strengthen the skin’s natural antioxidant defenses (10). Some foods packed with antioxidants include avocados, nuts, berries, peppers, and spices like ginger and clove (11, 12, 13, 14, 15). Here’s a tip: the brighter the color of the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it contains!
It is also important to avoid consuming excessive sugar and dairy. Studies have shown that a lower intake of milk products has positive effects on acne (16). Diets with high glycemic loads have also been linked to acne development (17).
Omega-3 supplements are useful against the development of specific skin conditions like dermatitis and skin cancer (20, 21). And supplements containing linolenic acid are known to ensure optimal hydration levels since they prevent water loss through the skin (22).
Watch what you put on your skin
Your diet isn’t the only way to satisfy your skin’s antioxidant cravings. Topical treatments containing retinol are known to significantly reduce signs of aging (23).
Clay has also been shown to improve the skin’s appearance by increasing the amount of collagen fibers in it (24). Topical applications of coenzyme Q10 can also be a powerful source of antioxidants (25).
Activities that keep your skin clear
If you are suffering from acne, perhaps face mapping will be your most valuable biohacking tool. Face mapping implies determining which areas of your face are most affected by acne and using this to find solutions for your specific acne profile (28, 29).
If wrinkles and fine lines worry you, these signs of aging can be improved by certain exercises. The Kyunghee Facial Resistance Program specifically targets muscles used for facial expressions. It makes the skin of the face and neck more firm and elastic (30). One study even suggests that it stimulates underlying muscle growth (31)!
If stress is what’s ruining your skin, yoga and relaxation techniques have also been attributed multiple health benefits. It’s no surprise that they can also help keep your skin clear.
How? Yoga is known to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit systemic inflammation (32). Less inflammation equates to less sun damage as well as fewer breakouts.
Making these simple lifestyle changes can help you get rid of acne, even out your complexion, keep your skin hydrated, and prevent wrinkles from forming in the future.
Biohacking might sound intimidating, but as you can now see it’s as easy as drinking more water, altering your diet, taking supplements, and stocking up on nourishing face masks.