1. Home
  2. /
  3. The esmi Edit
  4. /
  5. Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Skin

Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Skin

Is an anti-inflammatory diet the answer to helping soothe red, itchy, inflamed skin?  

Great skin care isn’t only about applying the right products, it’s also about eating the right foods.  

Learn more about how inflammation impacts your skin and use our anti-inflammatory foods list and menu ideas to help eat your way to calmer, clearer skin.  

What is inflammation and what causes it?  

Put simply, inflammation is your body’s immune response to fight off disease and heal from trauma.  

It’s the natural response of your immune system going into repair or defense mode, sending out chemical signals to heal a wound or fight off an invader such as a virus or bacteria.  

When inflammation acts in a healthy way once the ‘job’ is done the chemical signals shut down and inflammation subsides. This kind of inflammation is known as acute inflammation. 

Things go awry and inflammation switches from healthy to unhealthy when it becomes chronic. Meaning, your body is constantly in an inflammatory state. The chemicals are always ‘on’ and flooding the body with an inflammatory response.  

This can lead to a continual assault on healthy cells in the joints, nerves, and connective tissues. Internal symptoms of chronic inflammation can show up in your complexion.   

Eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea are skin conditions exacerbated by inflammation. These conditions call for ongoing management, including an anti-inflammatory diet, to help keep them under control. 

Or, you might be dealing with temporary symptoms due to an inflammatory trigger like an allergic reaction or sunburn.  

Symptoms of skin inflammation include:  

  • Flushing 
  • Hotness 
  • Redness 
  • Bumps 
  • Swelling 
  • Rash 
  • Red patches 
  • Itching 
  • Flaking 

What causes skin inflammation?  

Skin inflammation can be provoked by any number of things from an allergic reaction, to UV rays, smoking, pollution, and a surge in hormones such as stress-related cortisol.  

Diet also plays a huge role and adjusting what you eat to focus on anti-inflammatory foods for skin can help get your complexion into a calmer, happier state.  

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet  

Just as you’d guess from the name, an anti-inflammatory diet is all about reducing inflammation by a) avoiding inflammatory foods and b) increasing anti-inflammatory foods.  

Let’s start with the foods that can promote inflammation and are best to avoid or significantly cut back on in your diet. 

Inflammatory foods to avoid or cut down 

Foods high in sugar and fructose corn syrup including:  

  • Soft drinks 
  • Flavoured instant oatmeal 
  • Canned fruits 
  • Juice 
  • Most cereals except for unsweetened, 100% whole grain cereals 
  • Pre-made salad dressings (especially French dressing) 
  • Flavoured yoghurt 
  • Chocolate  
  • Biscuits 
  • Cakes 
  • Ice cream  

Fructose is usually added to food because it’s a cheap and easy way for food manufacturers to enhance the taste. 

Refined carbohydrates including:  

  • Refined white bread 
  • Pizza 
  • White pasta 
  • White rice 
  • Muffins 

Not only have refined carbohydrates been linked to skin inflammation but also diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease. 

Other inflammatory foods including: 

  • Processed vegetable oils 
  • Alcohol 
  • Margarine 
  • Processed and packaged foods high in trans fats  
  • Processed meats and red meat like burgers and steaks  

A good rule of thumb is to always read the label and scan for any pro-inflammatory ingredients such as trans fats, fructose corn syrup, MSG and sugar.  

Increase anti-inflammatory foods  

Swap those inflammatory foods for healthier, anti-inflammatory options that work to heal and protect the skin (and body!) rather than inflame it.  

We’ll get to a list of some of the best anti-inflammatory foods in a moment but overall they’re packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals and good fats. They’re foods that are as close to their natural states as possible - not processed.  

Not only will you reap the benefits of a calmer, glowing complexion, but you’ll also boost your health, including your immune system, all around.  

Anti-Inflammatory Foods List  

Now you know what foods cause inflammation, you might be wondering what foods are anti-inflammatory? Key players include foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, healthy fats. 

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage  
  • Capsicum 
  • Fruits: berries, grapes, cherries, and oranges 
  • Avocados 
  • Olive oil 
  • Olives 
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) 
  • Nuts 
  • Green tea 
  • Dark chocolate (hooray!) with 70% or higher cacao and no added sugar 
  • Red wine (in moderation and avoid if you have rosacea) 
  • Turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon  
  • Flaxseeds and chia seeds 

Anti-Inflammatory Menu   

Following the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating means loading your plate up with plenty of green vegetables, berries, citrus fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy oils and fish.  

We’ve rounded up some super delicious recipes that use anti-inflammatory foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Get ready to be inspired! 





Don’t forget, an anti-inflammatory diet works best when teamed with a healthy lifestyle. Incorporate regular exercise, watch your alcohol intake and stay hydrated.   

If you’re interested in exploring more eating plans with an anti-inflammatory focus, get your Google on and search Mediterranean, Weil, and Perricone diets.  

Before making any drastic changes to your diet we recommend seeking advice from an accredited practising dietitian. 

Anti-Inflammatory Skin Care 

Double down on the glowing results of your anti-inflammatory diet by supporting your skin with an anti-inflammatory skincare routine.  

Focus on ingredients that work to strengthen the skin barrier, hydrate, soothe and minimise redness.   

Tasmannia lanceolata extract (Mountain Pepper): Cools irritation and strengthens skin. 

Hyaluronic acid: This humectant ingredient delivers hydration deep into the skin cells. 

Broccoli Sprout Extract: Helps reduce skin redness and heal damaged skin. 

Wild Mint: Can target sensitivity and has wonderful antiseptic and antibacterial properties. 

esmi Anti-Inflammation Mint Gel Booster Mask 

This soothing gel mask comes to the rescue of sensitive, inflamed skin to cool and calm redness with powerful anti-inflammatory and moisture promoting ingredients.  

The Anti-Inflammation Mint Gel Booster mask is ideal for acne-prone and irritated skin or post laser treatment. Shop the Anti-Inflammation Mint Gel Booster Mask here 

You Might Also Like to Read 


  • Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation 


  • What is the anti-inflammatory diet? 


  • An anti-inflammatory diet can help you live a longer life