Penelope McDonnell

Let’s Get Skintimate: Health Hacks to Get Your Glow Back

Skin is a hot patient topic in my practice – it almost always comes up in every appointment. Not surprising, since the skin is the body’s largest organ and is the most communicative in expressing to us when something in the body is a little off. You see, our skin plays an active role in the detox process (that’s really what acne/ rashes/ eczema/ psoriasis is – your body getting rid of ‘trash’) and therefore, skin issues can be a reflection of all sorts of hormone imbalances, dehydration levels, states of stress, and fatigue.

As we approach the summer months, skin becomes even more the focus as we strive for that balmy summer glow. Here are our basic, easy, and effective health hacks for keeping your skin calm, cool, and collected – nourished and protected – both inside and out.

Hydration matters.

Patients often struggle to remember to drink 2-3 liters of water a day, primarily because of its “boring” lack of flavor or taste. Try adding a slice of citrus or opt for either hot or iced non-caffeinated herbal teas. Sipping throughout the day, herbal teas are a great way to stay hydrated – and depending on the type you chose – can also benefit your skin directly.

The tea company Yogi, makes a great Skin Detox Tea, as well as a Roasted Dandelion Tea, and other Daily Detox Teas – all of which benefit the skin. If you choose to have Green Tea in the morning, reuse the bag a couple more times. Great anti-oxidants are still coming out in multiple brews. Also good for the skin, and extremely hydrating.

Make sure that if you do have any of the big dehydrators, such as caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, that you load up on water (or herbal tea) to counteract their effects.  Assume for every cup of coffee or alcoholic beverage you need two cups of water (or herbal tea) to counteract the dehydration.

Support the other detox organs.

Liver and kidneys are two organs, other than the skin, that are highly involved in the body’s detox process. Help them do their job, and your skin will thank you.

Kidney Support

  • Juiced celery, 1 cup daily
  • Parsley Tea (Alvita is a brand I like)
  • Dandelion Leaf Tea

Liver Support

  • Artichokes, cilantro, arugula, watercress and beets all support liver detox pathways
  • Milk thistle is also wonderful, if you want to go the supplement route

Keep your gut healthy and happy.

How does gut health affect skin? Because inflammation affects nutrient absorption and the skin, along with the rest of your body, is unable to get the nutrients and vitamins it needs. Inflammation in the gut can also cause – or exacerbate – food allergies, which can directly affect the skin through rashes, bumps, and other reactions.

So, what helps gut health?

  • Take probiotics or eat fermented foods like sauerkraut regularly. I recommend half a cup of sauerkraut daily, before meals.
  • Increase fiber by eating half your daily intake of food in the form of veggies.
  • Digestive enzymes.If you feel like your digestion is sluggish, consider some digestive enzymes when you have big meals. Papaya enzymes are a patient favorite and you can get them in most health food stores.

What are the skin’s key nutrients?

  • Vitamin Cis number one – you can’t build tissue without vitamin C – enough said. Food sources are fruits and veggies.
  • Vitamin E. Great topically for reducing scars post injury and for general skin health. Best food sources are sunflower seeds, almonds, and spinach.
  • Selenium and zinc are especially important for the skin. Brazil nuts are loaded with selenium – 3 Brazil nuts a day provide the necessary daily intake. Oysters are loaded with zinc, as are pumpkin seeds and lamb.

In my practice, I treat a variety of skin and health concerns, and we approach these issues in a complete and holistic way, always getting to the true source of the problem. Here are our most common skin issues we see, and a few healthful solutions that have solved the problem, at its root.


When it comes to acne, food allergies can play an enormous role.

For women, the culprit is often hormones combined with diet. I like using the Seed Cycling Protocol in order to balance hormones combined with a diet of high fiber, good fats, and reduced sugar.

For men, diet is usually the culprit. Over intake of bad fats, sugar, and chocolate will bring on acne issues.  I recommend increasing veggies, fiber, and lean sources of protein.

Sun Damage (and Wrinkle!) Prevention & Treatment

Use sunscreen! Here are my favorites.

If you get an “accidental burn,” load up on Vitamin C for three days afterwards, taking 1000 mg three times a day.


Diet is key here. Stopping all dairy for two weeks should make a big difference. If not, try stopping wheat for two weeks.

For immediate relief, Epsom salt baths will soothe the itch and irritation. Pour 4 cups of salts in a hot bath.

Fungal Rashes

Topical treatments like tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar can soothe and reduce rashes associated with fungus irritation.




Also by Dr. Penelope McDonnell, ND
Thoughts on Thyroid: Could It Be The Culprit?

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