Laura Rudoe, the UK-based founder of S5 Skincare, has been focused on addressing skin stress and inflammation since the brand’s inception — and her interest in the effect of inflammation on the body has only deepened over time, prompting her to become a certified naturopathic nutritional advisor on the side. We asked her for her top anti-inflammatory lifestyle tips since, as she puts it, it’s all tied together: “The understanding of inflammation and its impact on our health, inside and out, is transforming our understanding of skin and its requirements.” Her wonderfully calming skincare products tend to draw on marine bioactives to soothe inflammation and redness, but she's also got lots of tips to calm inflammation from the inside out.
Ayla: Is inflammation always bad? When does it become a problem?
LAURA: Inflammation is in fact a critical and positive response in our body; it’s our rapid response to stress, toxicity, injury, or attack. It’s how our body knows to release the processes required to kick off our immune system and enable healing.
But when the body becomes over-responsive to stressors, inflammation becomes chronic, leading to serious consequences — including accelerated aging, immune system issues, and health complications. It also leaches essential nourishment from the skin, leading to dullness, skin conditions, patchy complexions and significantly increased premature ageing.
Ayla: What are some common causes of this type of inflammation?
LAURA: Causes of low-grade, non-self-healing inflammation affecting the skin can include:
- Candida and digestive impairment
- Sugar & processed foods
- Exposure to toxins, chemicals, cigarette smoke and pollutants
- Environmental stress and free radicals (oxidative stress)
- Vitamin deficiencies, particularly D and B
- Anxiety and stress
- Lack of sleep
Ayla: What lifestyle choices can minimize unnecessary inflammation?
LAURA: You can approach it from a couple of different angles to start with:
The number one thing you can do for your skin, health, and overall well-being is improve your diet (this can reduce by inflammation by up to 80%).
Sugar is the number one source of inflammation in the body. Facialists and nutritionists can always tell when someone’s diet includes a lot of sugar, because they develop “sugar face”: fine lines, puffiness under the eyes, spots on the forehead and chin and dullness. Processed foods are usually the source, but sugary drinks and sweets are also culprits.
It is also wise to avoid excessive amounts of dairy, alcohol, processed meats (bacon and sausage), and refined grains. Many people are intolerant to gluten, which is a key inflammation agent; it’s well worth getting tested for this.
Once you’ve figured out what to take out of your diet, think about what to put in. Specific foods known to have anti-inflammatory properties include:
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Leafy Greens
- Fermented vegetables
- Shiitake Mushrooms
II. Stress management
The second most helpful thing you can work on, where inflammation is concerned, is stress management. That isn’t easy in our “always-on” culture, but it is vital if you wish to get inflammation under control. Here are some ways to do this:
Seek inspiration from the slow living movement. Take time to eat your food, and try to live in the moment instead of racing towards every deadline. Mindfulness (the practice of learning to understand your body and its reactions) can help with this.
Reduce your screen time. Make sure you have at least three screen-free hours a day, especially before bed, when cell regeneration occurs. Blue light from your smartphone interferes with your body’s circadian rhythms and prevents the production of melatonin, which is important for sleep. And a lack of sleep is hugely inflammatory, both inside and out!
Try “grounding.” Simply explained, this is the process of walking on the earth barefoot. You might not want to do this in the concrete jungle, but ten minutes at the local park (checking the area first) or around the garden has been evidenced to reduce the heart rate and improve emotional well-being, reconnecting us to the world in which we live.
Finally, consider touch. Daily gentle massage improves blood flow and encourages the body to desensitize to external stimulus, leading to improved glow and elasticity in the skin. Simply applying your nightly serum or moisturizer in short, upward strokes while breathing deeply can be enough to activate this response.
We don't know about you, but we're ready to run outside and try this grounding business. Want to support your skin from the outside in, too? Check out the S5 Skincare line. Our newest favorite for sensitive, reactive skin is their amazingly lightweight and soothing Serenity Cream, which comes in an airless pump that's ideal for travel.