The whole world has jumped onto the Korean trend of 'glass skin', and with this huge rise came an onslaught of K-skincare brands booming on the market. can’t breathe on Tiktok without being shown a girl with the clearest skin I’ve ever seen selling me watermelon scented ultra-mega-hydro gel-based water cleansers that I would have to remortgage my house (figuratively, I’m a gen-z pseudo-journalist so I obviously rent) to get my hands on. But what if Glass-Skin is more than Skin-Deep? Enter fermented foods.
Q: How can you tell LJ wrote a blog?
A: When there’s a needless definition section ofc!
So, fermented foods. What are they?
def. foods and beverages that have undergone controlled microbial growth and fermentation. I.e. absolute fucking gold.
So first thing’s first...
Acne doesn’t make you any less of a person. I know it’s sometimes hard to love yourself when you have a skin condition, and obviously this isn’t a cure-all overnight fix for that. I’ve had chronic cystic acne for a decade now, and have tried just about every topical, both prescription and over the counter to try and clear my skin. I’ve tried being vegan, cutting out carbs, cutting out salt - nothing. When I was doing some excellent sciencey research for this gut health article, I found some studies linking gut health to so many other aspects of our bodily health that I said ‘fuck it’ and decided to give a fermented food fest a fair shot at helping me heal my skin from the inside out. If you’re in the same boat and have tried everything under the sun, then what’ve you got to lose? Worst case scenario you’ll have a 100% chance at a healthier gut microbiome and those are some pretty good odds.
Ok I'm sold. But, how does it work?
The connection between gut health and skin health is actually really well established. Y’know the gut microbiome is now considered a new organ by loads of people who know what they’re on about because it plays such a vital role in our health all-round. The gut microbiome consists of trillions of microbes (that’s stuff like bacteria, fungi, viruses, general nasties that aren’t actually that nasty) that live in our intestines, and it has a huge impact on our immune system, metabolism, and inflammation levels. When the gut microbiome is out of balance, it can lead to a fuck load of health problems, including skin issues. Fermented foods are a great way to increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut, which can help to restore balance and improve your gut health, as fermented foods are high in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that have been shown to improve not only gut health, but skin health, and overall immune function too. Score!
Which fermented foods help clear skin?
Okay, so now I’ve got the attention of all the fellow hot girls with acne, getting in your good fermented gains is way easier than I ever thought it would be. I tried to get through a good few servings of fermented foodstuffs every single day which can be as fancy as a biome boosted eggs-benny, or simple as stuffing my gob with a few good fork-fulls of edible gold when I got home from work. Here’s all the tastiest bits I found on my little gut health journey along the long and gruelling road to better skin.
So when I started looking into Korean skincare, I thought that there must be something more than just the products at play here, so I tried eating a Korean diet, and within a few days, my cystic acne seemed to be less sore. After I did all my gut health research, I realised that the huge volume of kimchi I’d been getting through was probably doing me some good. So I kept on scranning away at this tasty lil spicy jar of cabbage and my skin kept getting clearer. So many microbiomes, so much tastiness.
Every day I wake up and thank the powers at be for the discovery of the scoby. Kombucha is a fermented fizzy drink that’ll not only help you kick your very real diet coke addiction, but also provide you with some bang tidy inner healing. Your gut and your tastebuds will thank you for giving this one a go. It’s also really convenient - I can sip away on my little fruity drink and know I’m doing some good for my skin.
3) Sourdough bread
Not only is baking my new hobby, but it’s my new skin saviour. The key to sourdough is a sourdough starter, which is basically a jar of fermented yeast. It’s the yummiest bread ever and it’s so good for you. I love being able to tuck into all my favourite sarnies with a little extra boost of good bacteria to keep my gut ticking over, and my skin happy. It’s also nice and accessible - sourdough is available in so many supermarkets if you’ve had a really fucking long day at work and don’t fancy spending hours doing the culinary equivalent of watching paint dry as you wait for your loaf to rise.
This little brick of fermented soya is so full of goodness that it’s become a meal staple for me. It’s the easiest substitute ever for all vegan pals - just sub it in for tofu in literally every recipe ever. Let me tell you, this gorgeous block of beans in a ramen or pho style soup with kimchi on the side - a lethal combo for spots. It’s hard to believe that something so tasty is so good for you, but get believing girlie. Truly a life changing food.
For pretty much my whole adult life I haven’t taken photos of myself, nor have I let anyone take pics of me for various reasons, honestly it’s kind of sad that I don’t have any good memories in photo format... I’ll stop oversharing now. My point was going to be that I didn’t think to take before and after photos during my month long delve into the world of the fermented, but I’ll let your imagination create a good image based on this phrase ‘inner nostril cysts’. Eating more fermented foods has definitely shown improvements in my skin; it’s way less sore and inflamed, and I’m seeing few new breakouts. Overall, whilst the trend of K-beauty skincare for glass skin isn’t quite it for my super sensitive skin, Korean foods have been such a saviour. I’m an official fermentation fan, and will for sure be keeping all the tasty goodies I’ve been scranning in my menu rotations at home. Big thumbs up is my verdict, and hopefully it’ll be the same for you too. Give it a go, the worst that can happen is your gut gets healthier.