*Spoiler alert* it all depends on what is meant by a detox.
It’s that time of year when we give ourselves a hard time for being indulgent over the festive period, and we go on a detox as a counterbalance. A detox means different things to different people; for some, it’s giving up certain foods or drinks, for others it’s taking supplements, or drinking green juices, or smoothies, or taking an enema, or going for a colonic… there are so many interpretations of a ‘detox’. In this post we’re revealing whether detoxes are essential, how they impact the skin and hair, and our favourite detox methods…
ARE DETOXES NECESSARY?
Well, the body is pretty adept at detoxing and resetting itself naturally. The liver is our main organ for ridding the body of any unnecessary toxins, and it works all the time to do this. Every day and every night, whether we have been overindulgent or not. The kidneys also filter the blood of any toxins, the lymphatic system drains away waste from cells, and the skin also helps to eliminate toxins from the body. All-in-all, the body is already in detox-mode, ramping up functions as and when needed. This all takes time and the so-called “quick fix” detoxes don’t actually get us there any faster and can cause more problems. However, some of the principles which support the body to detox can be beneficial to our skin, hair and minds. Below we’ll explore both the negative effects and how you can more positively aid the body’s natural detoxification process.
THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF EXTREME DETOXES
Any drastic change in diet and hydration will result in skin and hair looking and feeling different. Cutting out food groups completely (a common method of detoxing), rather than making some simple swaps or reductions, can leave you depleted of essential nutrients, starving the skin and hair of vitamins and minerals it needs to function effectively. For example:
- Carbohydrates are needed to provide the body with energy (to prevent fatigue) and as brain fuel (helping us to concentrate).
- Protein is required for collagen production to maintain skin elasticity, prevent hair breakage and support hydration while iron helps hair follicles to grow.
- Vitamin A and Calcium help to rebalance the skin and scalp by reducing the amount of sebum (the body’s natural oil) produces. They also help to slow down the normal ageing breakdown of collagen, elastin and keratin, aid cell regeneration and even out skin tone.
- Vitamin C (an antioxidant) aids the skin regeneration process, helps the body to repair damaged skin cells and protects the skin barrier. It boosts proteins, collagen and elastin responsible for the skin’s structure, density and elasticity. Also, it neutralises free radicals in the body and prevents oxidative stress.
- Vitamin E also prevents oxidative damage by removing the protection against free radicals. It aids blood circulation in the skin and scalp, improves hair and growth, balances oil production, reduces dandruff, strengthens the skin’s protective barrier by locking in moisture, promotes cell turnover and regeneration, stimulates collagen synthesis, protects fibroblasts which increases elasticity. Vitamin E is also a powerful anti-inflammatory which calms and soothes the skin and scalp. It can aid sleep too. Lacking in this can lead to breakouts, rashes and irritation.
- Essential fatty acids and potassium are needed to prevent dryness that often come with detoxes – they keep skin hydrated and plumper. Omega 3 fatty acids help to keep skin supple while potassium moisturises the skin cells and helps build protein in the body, support growth of new skin cells and reduce hair loss.
- Zinc has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial healing benefits for skin. It plays a role in hair follicle growth and repair by keeping oil glands working efficiently; preventing itchy scalp and dandruff.
But perhaps the most important reason to avoid extreme detoxes is because toxins may be stored in the tissues if the organs responsible are at capacity as a result of extreme detoxing. Ultimately, these will be released into the bloodstream when the body requires energy from fat stores and can lead to organ damage.
OUR FAVOURITE WAYS TO SUPPORT THE BODY TO DETOX
- Consulting a functional nutritionist is probably the healthiest way to support detoxing in the body however that’s not always possible, so as a starting point we make sure we increase our water intake to aid elimination and increase hydration in our cells, this leaves our skin and hair looking and feeling healthier while eating more plant-based foods increases vitamins and minerals without overloading the digestive system. We also try to reduce sugar intake and alcohol consumption again and switch from coffee to matcha which has detoxifying properties thanks to its chlorophyll content.
- Getting back into our usual skincare routine if we’ve slacked over the festive season, especially by massaging the skin, giving ourselves a lymphatic facial and dry body brushing to promote blood circulation. Not forgetting massaging the head and scalp We also love to slather on a face mask (making sure we don’t leave this on longer than recommended to prevent stripping the skin of its natural oils) and working in a hair treatment (our scalp oil can be used for this) whilst relaxing in an epsom salt or magnesium flake bath to help draw out impurities. Expensive treatments aren’t necessary, however, taking time to exfoliate will remove dead skin cells and any product/dirt build-up leaving skin looking brighter and hair looking healthier. We’ll also give our hair and scalp a breather by laying off hairdryers and heated styling tools.
- Increasing exercise – this is more so to get our blood pumping again, the lymph moving, and for our minds than it is to flush out toxins, waste or impurities as the amount detoxed through sweat is actually minimal but nothing feels better than getting moving, especially outside in the fresh air. Practising mindfulness – perhaps a spot of forest bathing – is a great way to help release any tension held in the body which can also prevent the aggravation of skin and potential hair loss/halting of new hair growth.
- The most important thing is not giving ourselves a hard time about an indulgent few weeks to avoid added stress. Instead, we try to get plenty of sleep which allows our body to do its job to recover and regenerate.
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DO YOU DETOX? IF YOU DO, HOW DO YOU LIKE TO DO IT?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below!