The Benefits of Kale in Skin Care, According to Experts

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We know the dark, leafy green vegetable kale is packed with nutrients that benefit many of the inner workings of the body, making it a celebrated focal piece in many green juices and salads. However, the veggie’s benefits don’t stop at bodily health—kale can also enhance your skin. Over the past year, kale has been a rising star in the skin-care game.

“Kale was our original superfood muse. We were blending it in smoothies, drinking it cold-pressed in juices, and eating it massaged in every salad,” says Laura Cline, senior director of product development and education for Youth To The People. Eventually, Youth To The People, along with a handful of other brands, decided to “find a way to tap its nutrients to reap its benefits topically.”

What are the nutrients in kale that make it a skin-care superstar?

Kale is nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants and vitamins A, B, C, K and E. Surprisingly, HUM Nutrition’s education specialist, Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN says one cup of kale has more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. Holistic nutritionist Jennifer Hanway adds that kale’s signature dark green color is a reflection of the veggie’s high level of phytonutrients.

What are the skin-care benefits of kale?

The vitamin C present in kale is an antioxidant that’s great for brightening your skin’s appearance and can help reduce the appearance of dark spots, says New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD.  Cline says when used daily, antioxidants, like those in kale, can help defend skin from free radicals, environmental aggressors and pollutants, all of which can speed up aging. Vaca-Flores adds that kale is also high in carotenoids, “a type of pigment that can help slow down aging and protect against the damaging effects of the sun.” 

Dr. Peredo explains, “The combination of the vitamins helps tighten pores, diminish the appearance of dark circles, increase cell turnover and collagen production and prevent free-radical damage. It also can help hydrate the skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.”

Can eating kale also help your skin?

“Since eating habits have the potential to influence the appearance of the skin, it can be beneficial to include vegetables like kale in both your diet and skin-care routine,” says Vaca-Flores. She points to a 2017 study that found that women who supplemented kale extract every day experienced a boost in collagen levels.

“Kale is good for you all around. Our skin is our largest organ and can be impacted by what we eat. Incorporating foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants is a great approach to healthy skin from the inside out,” says Cline. Dr. Peredo notes that the effects of eating kale, such as hydrating the skin and brightening complexion, can mirror the results of applying it topically.

Hanway says antioxidants can help minimize free radical damage, “including them in our diets can help prevent signs of skin degradation and premature aging such as loss of elasticity and fine lines and wrinkles.” Additionally, ingesting the phytonutrients in kale “can help with skin brightness, tone and glow, and even help to lower stress-related inflammation in the skin,” says Hanway.

What are some great skin-care products with kale?

Dr. Peredo recommends Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser ($36). Like many Youth to the People products, it features the brand’s proprietary Superfood Blend that includes kale, spinach, green tea and alfalfa. This blend can also be found in the Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant ($38), Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream ($48), and Superfood Hydrate + Firm Eye Cream ($35).

For those with oily or acne-prone skin, Dr. Peredo recommends Pacifica Kale Detox Deep Cleaning Face Wash ($10). “It helps prevent breakouts and clears pores of dirt and oil.” Other popular skin-care products with a kale infusion include ELEMIS Superfood Facial Wash and Eminence Organic Skin Care Citrus Kale Potent CE Serum ($110).

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