Several weeks ago, my face decided to stage a little rebellion. I’ve had acne-prone skin since my teens, but I have managed to keep a pretty clear complexion for the past few years thanks to regular dermatology visits. When suddenly I was invaded by a small army of pimples accompanied by a couple painful nodules, I freaked.
I remembered what esthetician Lindsey Blondin recently shared with Verily. She said, "Fifty percent of what is happening to your skin is genetics, 25 percent is what you’re ingesting, 15 percent is environmental (sun, pollution, dirt, air, stress, hormones), and 10 percent is your regimen."
I decided the quickest fix might be option two: what I was ingesting. So I did what anyone would do; I Googled it. "What to eat for clear skin" was my search. Suddenly I was inundated by articles touting the complexion-saving benefits of drinking liquid chlorophyll.
Sounds like a science experiment, not a skin care routine, right? Here’s what this new craze is all about.
What in the World Am I Talking About?
Flashback to grade school science class, and you'll remember a little thing called photosynthesis—that is, when plants use chlorophyll to process sunlight into energy. So, yes, if you decide to give it a try, that very same chlorophyll, or a synthetic version of it, is what you'll be gulping down.
Wendy Rowe, makeup and skin expert and author of a new book, Eat Beautiful: Food and Recipes to Nourish Your Skin From The Inside Out, told me she drinks chlorophyll as part of her regular routine. "Chlorophyll works to purify the blood; when the blood is cleaner, it is better equipped to protect the body and it also helps to carry oxygen around the body more efficiently, which has the external effect of fresher, healthier looking skin." You already get some of the good green stuff from leafy vegetables like spinach or kale. It's chock full of vitamins and antioxidants, hence why it makes plants happy and also your skin.
Studies have proven that chlorophyll, in its various forms, has been proven to fight carcinogens in the body and reduce cancer risk. It also helps detoxify the liver and can expedite the healing of wounds. On top of all that, some have attributed improved digestion and weight management to a chlorophyll routine. Are you intrigued yet?
Drinking Liquid Chlorophyll IRL
This is where things get interesting. Trendy juice shops sell chlorophyll water pre-bottled for upward of $9 a pop, but I went in search of liquid chlorophyll at Whole Foods in order to make my own at home. The store stocked a few options, so I opted for the cheapest—a 16-ounce bottle from a brand called Nature's Way for about $12. I had read about how chlorophyll had this delightfully minty flavor, so I chose to embrace that and buy the mint-flavored variety as opposed to the original. That was a mistake, but more on that later.
The bottle recommended taking 2 tablespoons once or twice a day. I poured a tall glass of water and added 1 tablespoon because I wanted to start slow. The water turned a deep shade of swampy green. I liken the experience of drinking this water to eating purple ketchup back in the day when that was a thing. It's mind-bending but ultimately harmless. The first time I drank the water, I sort of enjoyed it. It definitely tasted very synthetically minty—like I had put a little squirt of Crest in my drink. (This, friends, is why I recommend you not get the mint flavor.) But it was bearable, and I wanted those zits gone!
The next day, the flavor seemed immensely more repulsive. I ended up gulping down the glass as fast as possible and chasing it with juice. Many bloggers will tell you they mix their chlorophyll with orange juice, but when I mixed mine with pomegranate juice, I didn't think it masked the taste very well. (Also, I recommend using a straw as it can stain your lips and teeth green.)
On day three, I added it to my hot tea. I figured this was a normal way to enjoy a mint flavor, so I might like it—and I was right. This quickly became my preferred method of consumption, although I have yet to be able to determine whether heat alters the properties of the chlorophyll. I also tried adding it to smoothies, hoping for a camouflage effect. The smoothies were better than the water but worse than the tea.
(Update: Since this article was published, the folks over at Verday sent me some of their chlorophyll water to try. To my surprise and delight, it's very drinkable. It's pre-bottled and comes in several flavors. I suggest watermelon.)
I continued to consume chlorophyll once per day for two weeks, and I definitely noticed some of the effects. Chlorophyll reportedly offers a little energy boost, which I felt. Things seemed to be operating very well in my intestinal department, which I also felt chlorophyll played a role in. And as for my skin, well, on day three someone complimented my complexion. I laughed, but I thought, maybe, just maybe, it was working after all. By week two, my breakout had subsided and nothing new had emerged. Some of that is just the natural course of things, but I felt like the chlorophyll gave my skin a little nudge in the right direction.
My journey with chlorophyll has been tenuous. At times I've wanted to gag; at others I've wanted to jump for joy. I think I felt (and saw) enough to stick with it. I'm eager to finish this mint-flavored bottle so I can try the "original" variety instead. I'm hoping it will be subtle enough to enjoy with just water, as that's the easiest way for my lifestyle. I definitely think that what's happening inside our bodies is equally, if not more, important than what we do on the surface, as Blondin suggested, so I'm not going to go back to relying solely on topical treatments for my skin just yet.
Wendy, like many skin experts, says one of the best things a person can do for his or her skin is to eat more probiotics and drink water. "A great habit to get into in the mornings is drinking a glass of hot water with lemon, or take apple cider vinegar; they both work to neutralize the body’s pH and reduce acid levels naturally," she says. Countless chlorophyll converts have said one of the reasons they love it is simply that it encourages them to drink more water. Whether it's drinking warm lemon water or green chlorophyll water, if it'll make my skin clearer and more hydrated, I'm on board.
Photo Credit: Satu Knape