Looking for a sun-kissed glow in the middle of winter? Try heading to the salad bar instead of the tanning bed. Eating lots of vegetables gives our skin an attractive “golden” hue that beats out the look of a suntan, a new study from the University of Nottingham discovered.
Antioxidants called carotenoids give vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes their color, and researchers found that they also lend a pleasant glow to our skin. When participants were shown pictures of people tanned by the sun and others who ate lots of carotenoids, they thought the veggie eaters were more attractive than the tanners.
The researchers think a predilection for the carotenoid-hued skin could be a result of evolution — it makes sense to pick a partner who looks healthy.
“This is something we share with many other species,” said researcher Dr. David Perrett in a press release. “For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is.” Though the study was conducted by showing participants Caucasian faces, researchers said similar results have been found in related studies that looked at different races.
The compound has other benefits besides attracting mates, too. Carotenoids give the immune system a boost and may even help slow the appearance of aging — the opposite of what too much time in the sun can do for your skin.
So, want that golden glow for yourself? Carotenoids are found in winter vegetables like kale, collard greens and sweet potatoes. Apricots, mangoes and tomatoes can also contribute to healthy looking skin. Or spice up your meal with cayenne or chili pepper, both of which contain carotenoids.
But even if you’re not a big fan of fruits and vegetables, you can still get that attractive tan (or carotenoid glow) without subjecting your skin to UV rays. Try one of these great “fake-bake” products for a golden look any time of year:
Tell us: What do you use to keep your skin a golden hue?