In our Powered by Plants series, created in partnership with Califia Farms, we're highlighting forward-thinkers who use plants to fuel their lives—and their passions. They're out to prove that plants are so much more than just a sad plate of broccoli. Check out the other plant-based pros here.
If seeing is believing, one look at Carla Oates, "The Beauty Chef" and author of the best-selling book Feeding Your Skin, will make you a believer in beauty from the inside out. Thanks to 15 years as a beauty editor and a childhood stint with eczema, Oates knows all about the connection between what you put in your body and the health of your skin.
She started out making her own skin care from scratch with plants and organic foods, and experimenting with lacto-fermentation, a process that utilizes good bacteria to produce lactic acid that preserves food and aids digestion. (You already know it from foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, and kimchi.) Oates passed these skin care concoctions out to friends and family like candy, and the results were legit: firmer, more radiant, healthy-looking skin.
We know what you're thinking: That all sounds lovely, but you don't have time to make your own science-experiment skin care. (Us either.) The good news is: Oates did all the hard work for us with The Beauty Chef collection, a line of research-backed serums, balms, and whole-food supplements like her best-selling GLOW Inner Beauty powder.
We got to chat with Oates about the intersection of plants and beauty, plus nab the smoothie bowl recipe she turns to when her skin needs a serious radiance boost.
Why plants? What makes them the perfect beauty ingredient?
I believe glowing skin comes from within, which means feeding your skin from the inside out. Luckily, nature provides an abundance of nutrient-dense, skin-loving ingredients. My favorite beauty foods include antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory foods like dark, green, leafy veggies; berries; and pomegranate, which are packed with vitamin C to support collagen production, help protect the skin from UV stress and free radical damage, and provide a good dose of fiber for cleansing the bowel and skin.
When you ferment, nutrients are made more bio-available for the skin to use. For example, if you eat a plate of superfoods, by the time your body takes what it needs to function, you end up absorbing around 15 percent of the nutrients. However, if you ferment these foods, you can actually absorb up to 85 percent! Lacto-fermentation also creates naturally occurring probiotics that help balance the skin. We have this incredible process that turns natural ingredients into supercharged and superactive ingredients, and it is all done by nature!
When do you feel the most beautiful?
When I have spent time in nature, when I've nourished my body and mind (and therefore skin), and when I've spent time with those I love most.
Why is it so important to care for your skin from the inside out?
I know it doesn’t sound very glamorous, but beautiful, glowing skin does begin in your gut. If you're working toward more radiant skin, you might be surprised to know that the answer lies more in your digestive tract than on how much you're spending on creams and cleansers.
The skin, hair, and nails are the last places to receive nutrients (they go to more important organs first), so nutrition and healthy digestion is key. If we’re not getting enough nutrients or digesting our food properly due to poor gut health, our skin literally starves. This affects skin elasticity and collagen production, and will manifest in dull, lackluster skin with poor tone.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Getting up early enough so that I can do some exercise—generally a walk along Bondi Beach—as well as preparing a delicious, healthy breakfast for myself and my kids.
Get Glowing Smoothie Bowl
This skin-loving smoothie bowl is full of fiber; vitamins; antioxidants; lipids; and glow-giving minerals like selenium, copper, and zinc. The added boost of GLOW Inner Beauty powder will keep your gut healthy and your skin happy.
Makes: 2 servings
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen unsweetened açai pulp, coarsely chopped
1 very ripe frozen banana, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut kefir or natural yogurt
2 teaspoons GLOW Advanced Inner Beauty powder (optional)
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons cacao nibs
1 small ripe banana, peeled and sliced
6-10 fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons granola
1 tablespoon finely chopped pistachios
1 tablespoon goji berries (optional)
1 teaspoon hemp seeds (optional)
1. Blend ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy.
2. Pour smoothie into two wide, shallow serving bowls. Decorate with toppings. Eat immediately.