Beauty is a complex topic to discuss, we've all experienced the self-doubt and shame that comes from seeing the unrealistic Western standards of beauty, and we want to reassure you that at SuperFeast we don't want you to conform to anyone else's idea of what beauty is.
So much of your 'beauty lens' is formed through your genetics, your upbringing, the media you are exposed to, and the cultural context in which all of these facets intermingle.
An ideal of ‘beauty’ set by an industry designed to sell you a story of never-enough is not the kind we are speaking of, rather a natural expression of your own truest health and radiance; beauty from within, radiating out.
In this article we will explore:
- Ancient beauty traditions and skin
- The relationship between the Lungs and our skin
- How your diet impacts your skin
- How gut health, stress and toxic exposure affects skin health
- Why loving your Liver can create healthy skin
- How hormone health can impact the skin
“Chinese tonic herbalism is a primary means in the Orient for replenishing and enhancing energy and for preserving harmonious balance in the human body. It is the primary tool for attaining radiant health”
- Ron Teeguarden
Ancient beauty traditions
In Ancient Taoist philosophy, longevity is regarded as one of the primary virtues, using practices to cultivate harmony and the smooth flow of Qi throughout the organs and channels of the body.
Our deep reverence for Taoism and these practices are a constant source of inspiration when speaking to our approach to health, vitality and beauty today. The many ancient beauty techniques of the East are rich with history, stemming from thousands of years of cultural traditions that are still used today.
In paying our respects to these traditions, sharing the knowledge we have collected, and creating this resource for you, we hope to inspire you to look at beauty a little deeper, and see how the cultivation of vitality, longevity and inner radiance will be the key to lasting beauty.
The relationship between the Lungs and our skin
The health of our skin can involve a multi-faceted approach, especially looking at it through both a Taoist and Western perspective.
According to Classical Chinese Medicine and Taoist theory, the skin is governed by the Lung channel and directly reflects the function, quality and radiance of the skin. Therefore ensuring a smooth flow of Qi through the Lungs will nourish the skin.
Common skin issues like acne, eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis relate to heat in the Lung channel, weak Lung Qi and dampness in the body. Plus we know day-to-day stress weakens our immunity and diverts Qi to our sympathetic nervous system which is not something that we are trying to cultivate.
If you are experiencing a more complex skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, read our article 'Skin - The SuperFeast Take on Eczema and Psoriasis' to dive a little deeper.
Lung Qi tonics and breathing exercises can profoundly benefit the skin. Our Lungs are one of our major defences against the outside world!
Inner radiance does not always stop here however, as many other organ systems in the body contribute to our radiance and glow. Whether you want to simply enhance the beautiful skin you already have, or are working to heal a skin condition, we also recommend to consider the following:
Eating for you skin
Let’s first say that no one diet is for everyone, and what feels most aligned for you may not be the case for someone else. These are a few general tips to consider when making any dietary changes to nourish your skin.
- Be mindful of food allergies or sensitivities and focus on an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Remove dampening foods (gluten, dairy, salicylates, amines/histamines, cheap oils (such as vegetable oil) and the four whites - sugar, wheat, dairy and processed salt).
A healthy gut supports healthy skin
The health of the skin is also a reflection of our gut health, this encompasses the integrity of the entire gastrointestinal tract as well as the intestinal microbiome (these are two different things). The integrity of our gut lining ensures that nutrients are properly absorbed and assimilated. Any damage to this lining (as in the case of intestinal hyper-permeability) can lead to an inflammatory response in the body, affecting nutrient absorption and eventually impacting the integrity of the skin’s barrier.
As for the microbiome, the gut microbiome and the skin microbiome are always communicating. When there is a disturbance or imbalance in the gut microbiome, it can lead to inflammation in the skin affecting integrity of the skin barrier, hydration and sebum regulation and impaired skin cell turnover.
Eating a nourishing diet that incorporates a wide range of macro and micro nutrients, reducing your intake of inflammatory foods (including alcohol) and reducing your stress can also support the health of your gut.
When supporting gastrointestinal health, we love working with medicinal mushrooms, whether singularly (Chaga, Tremella, Turkey Tail and Lion’s Mane are all amazing) or working synergistically in our Mason’s Mushroom Blend or Mushroom M8 capsules.
How stress affects your skin
The impact of stress on overall health and vitality has been well explored. Chronic stress can impair our gut health, hormonal function, immune capacity and increase inflammation in the body, factors that directly influence the health and appearance of our skin. Read more about the stress response in our article 'Stress, What Is It & What Is It Doing In Our Body?'.
Knowing this, it makes sense that engaging in practices that encourage the nervous system to move out of ‘fight or flight’ and into a state of ‘rest and digest’ can greatly benefit mental, emotional and physical health, and allow the body and its various functions to operate in harmony. There are many stressors we cannot avoid, however what we can control are the simple daily choices that we can make to nurture ourselves and build resilience, so we are able to respond to these exterior forces with more grace and equanimity.
So remember to rest, intuit your needs, take space, find consistency and connection and cultivate daily practices that nurture and restore.
To support the nervous system and regulate stress in the body, we love working with our SHEN Blend, Reishi and Ashwagandha to nourish the Shen Essence, calm the body and mind and improve the body’s ability to adapt to stress.
Love your Liver
The Liver supports the movement of Blood and the suppleness of the tendons and ligaments of the body, ensuring that our tendons, muscles, skin, and joints are properly nourished and that Blood flows smoothly. When there is a toxic load present in the body, it places excessive stress on the Liver to detoxify and excrete that toxicity, and can impair the capacity of Liver function and increase inflammation in the body, potentially leading to skin issues or exacerbation of already present skin conditions.
When the Liver is happy, we have more buoyant skin, a radiant glow and less pigmentation.
Why toxic exposure matters
Exposure to environmental toxins can contribute to the health of the skin, and although to some degree we cannot control all of them (such as air pollution), we can control what chemicals we are exposing to our skin through the products that we use. Synthetic chemicals and fragrances are known endocrine disruptors, which in turn can affect our hormones as well as our Liver function (increasing toxic load in the body) - these two factors alone can impact the health of our skin.
So how do we reduce this toxic exposure?
Go through your skincare and haircare products, your toothpaste and perfume and if they contain synthetic chemicals such as phthalates and parabens, then look into replacing them with ethically sourced, organic/chemical free brands.
Hormones and skin health
An imbalance in sex hormones is another core causative factor of skin issues and conditions. Hormonal health is an intricate web with many factors at play, if you are experiencing major disharmonies in this area it is always best to seek the guidance of a skilled practitioner. When working to support the hormones generally, placing focus on practices that tone the Liver, nourish the GI tract and reduce stress positively influence hormonal health. All the herbs suggested above have endocrine supporting properties (through their support of the GI tract and Liver).
When specifically focusing on hormonal imbalances however, we love working with our JING Blend, Beauty Blend and lastly our I Am Gaia blend, formulated as our women’s blend to support Blood, Liver, Kidney and Spleen health, and ensure a healthy flow of female hormones throughout the cycle.
If you want to learn more about beauty through the Taoist lens, check out some of our podcast episodes below: