We know that what we eat and drink has an effect on our general health. But not all of us think about the toll that poor diet takes on our skin. Too much fatty food, sugary food, refined food, caffeine, smoke and alcohol can have a visible impact on our skin, making it seem dull and lifeless. Dr Amanda Wong-Powell, Clinical Director of cosmetic treatment provider Courthouse Clinics, says it's time to start thinking about skin health from the inside out.

That's not to say that topical skincare products won't play a part in helping our skin look and feel good, says Wong-Powell. They can: but problems may start when skincare regimes get over-complicated. “People aren't compliant,” Wong-Powell points out. “If you tell them that they need 10 products because they have to clean their skin with this and then tone it with that, and then scrub it with this and then moisturise it with that... it can become too much. We're all so busy in our daily lives that, by the end of the month, we might only be using one product out of the entire skincare range that we've bought.” When it comes to topical applications, simple, easy to use products are the key to good skin health, says Wong-Powell: a cleanser, a cream for repairing the skin and an SPF (sun protection factor) to protect against sun damage.

Then, when thinking about how you can help your skin from the inside out, consider supplements, such as collagen and multi-vitamin drinks, on a daily basis. “Collagen is the structure that holds things together,” says Wong-Powell. “As we age, collagen dies and so the skin loses its vitality; but there are products on the market that can help skin rejuvenation. As new collagen forms, the skin is plumped up.”

Reduce skin ageing

Think about natural nutrition, too, to prevent skin conditions. “If you eat the wrong sort of food, it will cause break-outs on your skin,” says Wong-Powell. “Natural, good food will help produce collagen. I recommend cabbage, bok choy, soya-based products, apples, oranges, cherries, strawberries, beetroot, beans and carrots; flax seeds and walnuts are a natural source of Omega 3 fatty acids — and olives are great, too, plus avocado. Protein-wise, turkey is a source of carnosine, one of the amino acids naturally made in the body which helps reduce skin ageing, wrinkles and helps support skin elasticity.”

That's not to say you shouldn't have the occasional treat. Small amounts of (good) dark chocolate and red wine are fine, says Wong-Powell. But the rule is: everything in moderation. Plus, drink plenty of water. Water is vital for skin hydration, yet when we're busy we sometimes forget to drink enough of it.

Thinking about your skin from the inside out will have an effect, but don't expect to see immediate results, Wong-Powell cautions. “You won't see an improvement instantaneously,” she says. “But within a month you should start to see the difference in your skin. Then, if you maintain a healthy diet, you will have less blemishes and notice that your skin looks more rejuvenated and less dull.”

Good nutrition is also important for patients who have undergone body shaping treatments, such as liposuction. “I always advise liposuction patients to go on a healthy diet,” says Wong-Powell. “They'll have collagen drinks and vitamins in order to replace what we have taken out — because it's not simply fat they lose.”