High maintenance is not a phrase I’d use to describe my beauty regime. My nails are bare, I wear as little make-up as possible – though eyebrows are a non-negotiable – and I let my hair air-dry. The last beauty technique is a risky one, as you never know how it’s going to turn out, especially after going to bed with a soggy head!
This isn’t because I think I’m naturally stunningly beautiful; it’s just because I’m lazy. If I’m not at work or in the gym I want to be doing pretty much nothing other than eating or laying still on the sofa, so my beauty regime maximises the time spent doing this.
I still want to look healthy, though I’m aware the natural look takes a lot of effort to look just that – natural. However, since I started working in sports nutrition and I’ve tried out more goodies, I’ve found some supplements provide surprising benefits other than sports performance.
I’ve used generic hair, skin and nails supplements before which haven’t produced any noticeable effect. Over the past month or so I’ve been trying out a few different products, mainly for their recovery, muscle growth, or internal health benefits. What I’ve found is that since I’ve been using them my hair has grown more than usual, my skin has been super clear, and my nails are shiny. Admittedly, my diet has been top-notch, however I’ve had periods of very healthy eating before but haven’t experienced the same benefits for my hair, skin and nails.
So which supplements have had this seemingly magic effect – and why have they worked so well?
I’m wearing all Nike everything, as per usual
I don’t eat my full breakfast until I get to work, so I drink a shake as soon as I get up, but my usual whey protein didn’t seem to sit well on an empty stomach. I decided to give hemp protein a go, and though it’s very earthy I quickly got used to it – in fact I now find it quite enjoyable with ice-cold coconut milk!
Although it has less protein in than whey (15g compared to 20g) it contains all the amino acids the body needs to function, and it’s usually organic. It’s also high in fibre, so great for your digestive system. Although other protein powders contain amino acids, they don’t tend to have the fat that hemp has, which not only creates healthy cell membranes and produce the skin’s natural barrier, but help carry vitamins and minerals around the body, reaching the outermost stations on the track – that’s your hair and nails.
Hemp has minerals itself, which digest along with the powder – it’s likely that the hair, skin and nails supplements I was taking before didn’t digest so well as they were in capsule form.
Based on the promise of reduced DOMS I started drinking branched chain amino acids throughout my workout – and it’s worked, to some degree! I still get DOMS, of course, but they’re not as agonising as before. BCAAs increase protein synthesis and keep the body energised during exertion, plus the fruity flavours encourage you to drink more whilst working out – and of course, we all know that water helps flush out any toxins that might present themselves in the skin’s surface.
Hair and nails are made up of keratin, a type of protein, though it makes sense that they’re the last on the body’s list of priorities when it comes to protein distribution as they’re not necessary bodily functions. At least, not since we started wearing clothes to keep warm! Getting in extra BCAAs means there’s plenty available to line the potassium-ion channels in hair follicles (one of BCAA’s many roles) which means hair can grow longer and stronger.
I’ve always been big on good fats; even when I had an avocado-a-day habit I noticed a difference in my hair, skin and nails. When I was a student every spoonful of coconut oil was sacred – however, since I’ve been working full-time I’ve been a lot more generous with my use of coconut oil and almond butter, as I order a big tub of each every month.
The benefits of eating good fats are well-known, but since I’ve been more liberal with coconut oil, I’ve rubbed it into my scalp and also into the lengths of my hair around an hour before washing it. Whatever’s left on my hands gets rubbed into my face and also into my cuticles, which have always been ragged (I’m a picker, okay?), but have improved significantly since I started doing this.
Of course, I don’t recommend you do the same with almond butter – that’s much better on toast, or my current favourite, a spoonful of crunchy butter in chocolate casein pudding!
A little disclaimer – I did buy all of these from Myprotein, where I work, but I just used a normal on-site discount, not a staff one. If you keep your eyes open they post some amazing codes, making a supplement habit like this pretty affordable! One of these supplements on their own perhaps wouldn’t have had such an impact on my hair, skin or nails, but all of them working in harmony have created some sort of beauty synergy that I’m going to stick with until I get the mermaid hair I dream of.