I love Valentine’s Day. It’s not only a day to share love with my family and friends, but it’s also my birthday. In honor of this celebratory day, you have doctor’s orders to indulge for glowing skin!

Today’s post highlights three of my favorite Valentine’s Day Treats -champagne, strawberries, and chocolate – and how each benefits your skin, including DIY options, which I know we all love.

STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries contain alpha-hydroxy acids which act as a natural exfoliant, sloughing off dead skin cells in a very gentle way so the skin is smooth and soft. Strawberries also have skin-lightening properties thanks to their ellagic acid, which is great for evening out skin tone. They are also high in antioxidants that protect the skin from sun damage and pollution. The pigment that makes strawberries red actually neutralizes free radicals and protects the skin from environmental stressors.

Best Ways to Eat Them:

  • Add strawberries to smoothies, rather than fruit or vegetables juices, to keep as much of their nutritional value as possible. Juicing gets rid of the pulp, and there’s a lot of good stuff, including fiber, in the pulp.
  • When it is not peak season, look for frozen strawberries. Berries are frozen at the peak of freshness, so they retain their nutritional value longer.
  • Avoid processed, strawberry flavored, treats or sauces as they are often high in sugar and void of nutrients.

DIY Options:

  1. Strawberry Hair Mask: Blend 2-3 strawberries with an egg yolk and a few drops of olive oil. Massage into scalp for 10 minutes then rise away with shampoo. The hydroxyl acids in the strawberries are great for gently sloughing off dandruff flakes.
  2. Rough ‘n’ Tough Foot Scrub: Thoroughly mash 6-8 ripe strawberries and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of coarse salt, and mix well. Soak feet in warm water for about 10 minutes and gently scrub your feet with the mixture. Wash feet clean with cold water.

CHAMPAGNE

Enjoy your bubbly AND have glowing skin!

Skin benefits of drinking champagne: champagne contains resveratrol, a potent antioxidant that is key for anti-aging benefits. For topical treatments, the polyphenols found in champagne help reduce inflammation and skin redness, while the tartaric acid evens out tone.

Best Way to Drink It:

  • add sliced strawberries for added flavonoids.

DIY Options:

  1. Hair treatment: Champagne is great for helping you achieve smooth and silk hair, especially for blondes. Just mix one-half cup of champagne with one-half cup of hot water and distribute evenly throughout your hair. Let it marinate before rising with and styling as usual.
  2. Skin Toner: mix an antioxidant-rich Sparkling Wine Toner, ideal for normal to oily skin. Just soak a cotton pad in chilled sparkling wine and wipe thoroughly across a cleansed face, neck and décolleté. Just remember that alcohol can be drying, so only use this treatment 1-2 times per week and be sure to follow with moisturizer.

CHOCOLATE (of course)

The key is that not all chocolates are created equal. Cocoa beans fresh from the tree are very rich in flavanoids. Flavonoids are plant-derived antioxidants that are the main reason why beautifully colored flower petals can bake for hours in the blazing sun without drying out or being damaged by harmful UV rays. The process used to make conventional chocolate strips the chocolate of these potent antioxidants. Thus, white chocolate and milk chocolate hardly contain any flavanoids at all! The highest flavonoid content is in the darkest of chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao (cocoa) or in cocoa powder. This type of chocolate is high quality and even tastes a bit bitter (but still delicious).

The Yummy Facts (Studies):

  • A London study compared a group of subjects who ate flavanol-rich dark chocolate with a group of subjects who ate standard milk chocolate for a three month period. Over the 12 week period, the milk chocolate group was no more or less protected from UV radiation. However, the high flavanol chocolate group DOUBLED their protection from UV radiation as compared to the baseline. In other words, they could spend TWICE as much time in the sun before they started to see a burn! The study found that eating this type of dark chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light and sunburn!
  • Another study in Korean women ages 43-86 showed that eating high-flavanol cocoa for 24 weeks had positive effects on facial wrinkles, skin roughness, hydration AND skin elasticity.

Now, even though these findings are so exciting given my love for chocolate, we can’t go overboard. Chocolate is high in sugar and eating processed sugar leads to inflammation and the risk of increasing the potential for acne and other inflammatory conditions like heart disease or diabetes. I eat a square or two per night after dinner and really try to savor them!

DIY Option:

While you are eating your rich, dark chocolate, you can also indulge in a rejuvenating chocolate face mask which will leave your skin refreshed and radiant!

  • 2 Ingredient Chocolate Face Mask: Mix 1 tablespoon warmed coconut oil with 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder until creamy. Apply to face with brush or fingers and let sit for 15-20 minutes before washing off with a warm wash cloth.