A streamlined stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs - Adapt Naturals is now live. Learn more

How Paleo Makes You Look Younger, Sexier and More Vibrant


Last updated on

benefits of paleo diet skin
The Paleo diet can heal your body from the inside out. Ralf Nau/DigitalVision/Thinkstock

You probably discovered the Paleo diet because you wanted to improve your health and/or lose weight. But wouldn’t it be great if it also made you look like a younger, sexier, and more vibrant version of yourself?

In most cases, the physical attributes that we find attractive – including shiny hair, clear skin, white teeth, and a healthy waist-to-hip ratio – are indicators of good health. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, as choosing mates based on health and fertility would have maximized survival advantage for our ancestors.

This is good news, because it means that you don’t have to try questionable supplement regimens, miracle creams, or invasive surgeries to improve your appearance. When you use a nutrient-dense Paleo diet to heal your body from the inside, these changes will manifest on the outside!

Can #Paleo put the brakes on the aging process?

Hair and Nails

Compared with other parts of the body, hair and nails are not essential to our survival. Thus, if you’re nutrient deficient or otherwise have compromised health, hair and nail quality will probably be the first to go.

The overall nutrient density of a Paleo diet alone can lead to a significant improvement in hair and nail strength, thickness, and shine, but certain nutrients such as zinc, biotin, and iron may play a particularly important role, and it’s common for intakes of these nutrients to increase significantly when someone switches to a Paleo diet.

For example, red meat and shellfish are some of the best dietary sources of zinc, while cereal grains actually decrease zinc absorption due to the presence of phytates. Because of this, people who avoid red meat and shellfish and consume lots of whole grains (in other words, people who follow a conventionally “healthy” diet) might not be getting adequate zinc, which could lead to poor hair and nail quality.

Dietary phytates also decrease iron absorption, and iron deficiency is a less well-known but significant contributor to hair loss, particularly for premenopausal women who have low iron stores but are not anemic. I’ve discussed before how increasing iron intake isn’t beneficial for everyone, but for a large percentage of women, the increased iron absorption resulting from more red meat and fewer whole grains on a Paleo diet could resolve hair loss and lead to thicker hair.

Egg yolks, like red meat, are often discouraged on a so-called “healthy” diet, but are allowed (and even encouraged) within a Paleo framework. Egg yolks also happen to be one of the most concentrated sources of biotin, which is extremely important for hair growth. Biotin is also important for nail health, and in one study, patients experienced a 25% increase in nail plate thickness from biotin supplementation.


Skin problems are incredibly common, and they almost always indicate an underlying health issue that can often be resolved through dietary changes. A Paleo diet is extremely effective at improving skin quality because it directly addresses the three most common causes for unhealthy skin: inflammation, gut dysbiosis, and nutrient deficiencies.

One of the primary goals of a Paleo diet is to eliminate foods that can cause inflammation. One of the biggest culprits is industrial seed oils (including corn, soybean, and canola), which are unfortunately marketed as a health food by many authorities. These oils add excessive amounts of omega-6 fat to our diets, which disrupts the normal inflammatory cascade and can manifest as inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Switching to a Paleo diet and eliminating these industrial fats, along with other inflammatory foods such as refined sugar and flour, is one of the best things you can do for reducing inflammation and calming your skin.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may be aware of the gut-skin axis. This theory suggests that the health of your gut is often directly reflected in the health of your skin. In fact, if a patient comes to see me with skin problems, I immediately screen them for digestive issues and bacterial dysbiosis, because there’s almost always a connection. Unfortunately, gut health can be damaged by things like grain proteins (especially wheat gluten), excessive alcohol consumption, and even excessive stress, so compromised gut health is pretty common. Fortunately, a Paleo diet removes the worst dietary offenders and also promotes gut healing by including plenty of fermentable fibers, bone broth, and fermented foods.

Like hair, skin is very sensitive to nutrient deficiencies. I wrote an eBook on nutrition for skin health, and eating a variety of nutrient-dense Paleo foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and starchy tubers is a surefire way to get these nutrients in your diet. But aside from vitamins and minerals, there’s another often-overlooked nutrient that can have a big impact on skin health: collagen.

Collagen is the primary protein found in connective tissue, and it provides the building blocks for increased skin elasticity and smoothness. One important aspect of a Paleo diet is the notion of nose-to-tail eating (as opposed to solely eating muscle meat) so a Paleo diet should include plenty of collagen building foods with health benefits like bone broth, tendons and skin, homemade gummies, or gelatinous cuts of meat in dishes such as Vietnamese pho.

In short, a Paleo diet doesn’t just improve your health – it improves your physical appearance, too. But when it comes down to it, what’s sexier than someone who has excellent health, doesn’t obsess about their diet, and enjoys their food? Especially if you’ve been struggling with your health for a while, nothing will make you feel younger or more vibrant than finally feeling healthy.

ADAPT Naturals logo

Better supplementation. Fewer supplements.

Close the nutrient gap to feel and perform your best. 

A daily stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs.

Chris Kresser in kitchen
Affiliate Disclosure
This website contains affiliate links, which means Chris may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. You will pay the same price for all products and services, and your purchase helps support Chris‘s ongoing research and work. Thanks for your support!


Join the conversation

  1. My guess is that your bone density (if your K2 and other players intake is high), you get better bone density and don’t lose volume in face – thereby not getting as wrinkly as well.

  2. I’ve been on paleo diet for 2 months now all most three I love the diet it has helped me gain confidence in myself. I struggle with my weight a lot but it helps me. I have more energy.

  3. I started the paleo diet four months ago to lose some weight. The first week I noticed a huge Improvement in my health. And it has only gotten better through the months
    . I truly did not know how unwell I was. I have always been slim but I worked very hard to keep my figure slim through exercise. And watching what I’m eating… aka the traditional grain fueled
    diet.. I was a walking poster child for autoimmune, vertigo, achy joints, sleepless nights, night sweats, depression, I didn’t even know I was depressed until I wasn’t!!!

    When I turn 60 I decided I was going to make some changes. I researched paleo having heard about it from a friend of mine who had lost 40 pounds in a year. I dropped 18 pounds in two and a half months. My vertigo is all but gone, no more achy joints. No more acid reflux or heartburn. My mind is more clear, and my skin is more clear. I now sleep through the night and wake up refreshed. Exercise was never an issue with me because I have always exercised. But now my workouts are stronger and less intense with more benefits. I still have a way to go but I am completely and thoroughly convinced that this has become my lifestyle and not just a diet. Autoimmune? What autoimmune!

  4. I think it’s fantastic that people are finally catching on to Paleo. People are seeing the results it has gotten the Paleo pioneers; they see that these pioneers look healthier, younger, more vibrant, and feel more energetic. I think that this Paleo movement is going to burgeon into something even greater than what we are seeing today. Those ignorant, unhealthy vegans have no idea what they are missing. When you limit gluten, eat grass-fed and exercise, and listen to your body, you will not only look younger, but you will feel younger and tihnk more clearly.

    Thanks a lot Chris Kresser for creating this website and sharing your insights through your podcasts. Without you I never would have discovered the truth about health. Kresser, you’ve been fantastic my man. Keep up the good work!

    Loren Chak.

  5. Thanks for another great article! I’m wondering about hair loss in premenopausal women with low serum ferritin levels. The article you cited called “Nutritional Factors and Hair Loss” showed a strong correlation between the two, and indicated that supplementing with 72 mg elemental iron and (in some cases) 1.5 g l-lysine per day raised serum ferritin concentration an average of 56 ng/mL over 6 months. It recommends aiming for a serum ferritin concentration of at least 70 ng/mL to restore normal hair patterns. It also says once iron status improves, preliminary data suggests that supplementing with 24-48 mg elemental iron per day is required to keep serum ferritin concentration above 70 ng/mL in premenopausal women. Do you recommend this much iron per day, and do you think l-lysine supplementation is necessary on a paleo diet? Do you think women with low serum ferritin need indefinite supplementation with iron to maintain a healthy ferritin level and hair growth? Any other insight about raising ferritin is welcome!

  6. Great article, but I have a question! I am a 50 year old woman whose been Paleo for about 6 months, and I’m having a serious hair loss problem. I had my thyroid checked and results came back normal. Does anyone have ideas about what could be wrong?

    • How many grams of carbs do you eat daily?

      I’m 31, paleo for 4 years, and though my thyroid tested normal (albeit on the low end of normal) my entire life, I lost a ton of hair around the first year mark. Several other unpleasant changes occurred after that, albeit slowly. My carbs were probably in the 50g or under range, aside from the occasional treat.

      Recently I read The Perfect Health Diet, bumped my carbs up to about 150g and hair loss stopped instantly, menstruation back on track, etc, etc.

      My best guest: your thyroid on the low end of normal (i.e., normal enough that a doctor won’t do much about it, even if it’s a problem), or your hormones are a bit out of whack. Would definitely recommend upping your carbs and/or reading Perfect Health Diet if you’re doing low carb.

    • Kate, You may still have a thyroid problem which is undiagnosed if they didn’t run all the right tests. Sometimes doctors are lazy and don’t run them all. I had a hypothyroid problem for many years and it wasn’t diagnosed until I went to a naturopathic doctor. He ran the right tests. Also, I’ve done some research for myself and discovered that the hormone DHT is the culprit in most hair loss for men and women. (that’s not a thyroid problem) Your DHT levels are probably too high if it’s not your thyroid. Something that helped me was taking a couple of herbs- red clover and chaste tree in a 2 to 1 ratio. This raises your female hormones which lowers your DHT. Also you can take a supplement called DHT block that is made by Delgado Protocol. You can buy it online. I think even amazon has it.

  7. Just wondering, nuts also contain omega-6, could it be that skin problems might continue, or even become worse, even after being on a Paleo diet and eliminating all vegetable oils but eating (maybe excessive) amounts of almonds, hazelnuts, cashews etc?

    (I don’t want to get too personal but I have issues with melasma and skin patches, even on the paleo diet)

    I would really appreciate a short reply, thanks in advance!

    • Don’t know if you’re still reading this, but I had some pretty upsetting skin problems (pustular psoriasis and chronic external yeast infections) and getting rid of nuts was one of the best things I ever did.

      I saw many improvements on paleo but nothing w/ skin until I cut out nuts and seeds and drastically limited chicken.

      I know this is three months too late, but perhaps it will help.


      • Hi Rachael, thanks for your feedback!

        I don’t know if you’ll see this but how can you be sure it was the nuts and seeds? I’m just asking cause I still eat them a lot, and I kind of panicked with your reply!

        So what do you eat since your skin got clearer?? Personally since I don’t eat any grains, I think that’s the reason why I crave nuts. You also mention chicken?? 🙁 So what protein sources do you go for??

        Thanks a lot!

  8. These aren’t exactly changes in appearance, but going paleo (with the occasional yoghurt cheat) has changed so much for me. I used to suffer from chronic tinea on my feet; it started with athlete’s foot when I was a really young girl, and was just really stubborn and never went away. No matter how many creams I used, the infection always came back, even if it disappeared for a week or two. It’s only recently I’ve noticed it, but I don’t have even a little bit of athlete’s foot left. It’s amazing!
    A person above me noted an improvement in his/her teeth, and I’ve had a similar experience, except my gums never bled to begin with; I’ve noticed my teeth look whiter for some reason, though.
    I’ve definitely had an improvement in my complexion, also; I used to rely heavily on a skin-cleanser to ensure I didn’t break out all over my forehead. My bottle ran out a month ago, and I haven’t needed to buy another one yet.
    Honestly, going paleo is the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s done wonders for my self esteem, and even though I hardly ever exercise now in comparison to before going paleo, I look so much healthier and leaner in general.

  9. 59 years old and lost 45 pounds, down to the same weight as when I graduated college. I can actually see a 6 pack

  10. As a vegetarian trying to go Paleo, I’m now getting most of my protein from eggs and trying to stay away from eating soy as I’m in your first stage. Any other suggestions for vegetarians?

    • Don’t listen to Mickey. I’ve been carded twice this week and I’m almost 43. I have been a vegetarian (who eats minimal dairy) since I was twelve years old. I’m more muscular and lean than all of my friends. I don’t think being vegetarian or vegan is the answer — nor is paleo. I think the key is cutting back on starches (you don’t have to give them up), eat as much whole fruits and veggies as you can, minimally cooked, don’t be afraid of fats (coconut oil, etc) but try to cook them as little as possible (cooking fats creates carcinogens), soak/ferment your grains, and most of all, eat as much fermented food as possible. As for what to eat if you’re afraid of soy…well, I think fear of soy is largely based on bad science, though I do think you should avoid the overprocessed crap (TVP) and eat edamame instead (it’s so easy to grow your own) and tempeh (a cultured soy product).

  11. On change that was a surprise for me, is around my teeth. I aways had “good” teeth, hardly any decay, never had a tooth ache in my whole life (I am 46). But as far as I can remember, i always had a lot of tar, with gum inflammation. The dentist said there was nothing to do about it, just floss. But even with flossing, since i have big gapes between the teeth, i end up with lot of tar and receding gum.
    Now, no more tar, the one I had is disappearing slowly nearly on its own (I am helping with the flossing). The inflammation is the same i think, i still bleed sometimes when i brush my teeth, but I think it will get better. I have been paleo for 18 months (with dairy (mostly cream, butter and cheese), a few cheats now and then).

  12. I’m 63 and have metabolic syndrome. My ugly red patches of excema that would appear every winter are now tiny, if they show up at all. I did a 6-8 week elimination diet for eggs and dairy with no changes when I added them back in, which made me happy. I lift light weights and do some arc trainer time for osteoarthritic knees. My diabetes is in control with no meds. Still could lose more weight, but my skin is in good shape for my age. I use bone broth and supplement with great lakes gelatin. My hair is shiny, my fingernails are stronger and I hope my bones are getting the same benefit! I’m cutting calories slightly to lose more weight, but not fat calories.

  13. Great article, thanks for explaining and confirming what I have observed.

    I recently started learning cook tendon and ox tail (inspired by Pho).

    The tendon has to cook for about 10 hours to reach jello consistency, but it’s delicious and it makes my skin feel and look amazing.

  14. Since going paleo (but with dairy) if have all but lost my migraines, swelling in legs, arthritic pain in both hands and rosacea on my face that was painful.
    How can you not look more attractive after losing those things.
    I have not lost weight though (disappointing) must be the dairy. But people ask me how can I stay on paleo when I am missing out on so much. I tell people all of these things that I am ‘missing’ and they understand. I will never go back!

    • If you still have these other health problems, why on earth would you still be including dairy in your diet? To me it would be worth it to eliminate it. Why suffer?

  15. I have been living this lifestyle for 12 years and I get innumerable amounts of compliments in regards to my skin and hair and people even say how clear my eyes are. I whole-heartedly believe it’s because of this diet, my exercise and my sleep habits! I would never live any other way then Paleo!

  16. I am on the 2nd week of the paleo diet and got noticeable results in the first few days. I had acid reflux and as soon as I cut out grains and sugar I felt instantly better. I lost four pounds in water weight and the bags under my eyes disappeared as well as the bloated abdomen. Also, being a 53 year old woman, I was getting jowly in the jaw. But since i lost the water weight and my skin has improved, I look 10 years younger and the skin on my face appears less loose.. I even got carded buying wine! (and yes, I cheat on my diet). I must have had an allergy to wheat. I have had lifelong stomach issues and diagnosed with IBS but attributed it to damage to the intestine due to a childhood illness. I really miss bread, but now that I know it makes me sick, and that the paleo diet gives me energy and vitality, I will be sure to stick to it.

    • Wow. So it seems some of the jowl issues ( which I am getting just a slight amount of at 51), can be excess water (or maybe inflammation) under the skin. I have been eating Paleo for the last five days and notice my skin tone already looks more even.

  17. I have been Paleo for 2 years and yes not only do my insides feel great (with some tweaking along the way) but mostly what a confidence booster! My posture is better, no more acne (except after some dairy), soft skin, better teeth, better thicker hair, strong nails that don’t break easy and I think an all over glow. I get compliments on my youthful look at 46 and it makes me feel great! And although I used to lift weights more I am unable to in my current living situation but I still feel strong and look no different just by walking a lot and lifting anything when I can! Thanks for all you do! Great article!

  18. Actually, the biggest change that Paleo brings regarding “attractiveness”, is neither of the ones mentioned in the article. It’s the smell. The smell change and the opposite gender becomes more attracted to you, unconsciously.

    I was not “ugly” as a teenager/young-woman, and yet, except one guy, absolutely nobody else gave a damn about me. For years I could not understand how absolutely nobody would have an interest in me, not even for an one night stand (not that I wanted those, but still, nobody made any move).

    Only when I found Paleo at age 38, things changed. And going back to my life, I realized that I was SICK as a DOG since day 1 of my birth. I was just “smelling” sickness. The explanation I give now is that males were unconsciously able to pick that vibe up, and keep clear of me.

    And to go a bit further, I hope I’m allowed to write the following: I’ve came across three posts (2 on r/paleo on reddit, and 1 on paleohacks) where women were reporting that their taste “down there” changed after going paleo, while men’s semen changed taste too.

    Others have reported a higher libido on Paleo, after an initial low libido period (while they were still losing weight and they were not fat-adapted yet). But things pick up after that.

    Finally, confidence springs up. There are mental changes happening because of Paleo, so these also translate in terms of approaching the opposite sex without fear.

    So in my opinion, Paleo indeed brings drastic changes in terms of the sex life of the individual. For the better, that is.

    • I’ve been on paleo-ish for about a year and a half. I never tried strict paleo, because I eat a lot of dairy, potatoes, and a few grains. I likely eat more carbs than most people eating paleo do, because I need them due to being active. Most my carbs come from veggies for sure.

      Anyway I’m often told that I stink. I don’t know how my semen tastes.

      • All I can offer here is my personal experience so “your mileage may vary” (YMMV).

        As a female, I find that I smell & taste best when I consume many fruits (berries, citrus), vegetables (although avoiding high amounts of sulfuric veggies); and lots of water and probiotic-rich fermented drinks (raw dairy or water kefir, unsweetened kombucha). The same appears to hold true for my male partner.

        I follow a Primal (?) template but I still don’t eat nearly as much red meat as I should; I prefer shellfish and fatty cold-water fish but I do consume loads of beef bone broth and the occasional organ meat. My dairy consumption is limited to pastured-dairy butter (approximately 2-4 Tbsp) and raw dairy (limited to 8-10oz, in the forms of either whole milk, kefir, yogurt, or cheese). Both my partner and I find that we have a more “musky” odor when we raise our red meat & dairy consumption. I supplement with unrefined virgin coconut oil as well.

        Restricting your intake of gluten, refined sugars, and alcohol can positively change how you smell and taste. Excessive consumption of non-fermented dairy and CAFO-meat will also negatively affect your scent and taste.

        • You’re actually doing a true-er Paleo than most. Paleo is not about having a huge steak and minimal veggies, as Instagram’s #Paleo tag would have you believe. That’s the weight loss version of Paleo, the one that the masses are following. Best Paleo IMHO is lots of veggies and fruits, more fish than meat, and prefer oysters and fermented foods, as you do! Well done!

    • I agree with the smell attractiveness. Most of my female friends said I was physically attractive but never seemed to land any real dates. I noticed when I changed my diet to more Paleo my body odor changed and it seemed that women were smiling more and more talkative.

      I am a 39 year old Male and have not had a steady girlfriend in over 15 years. My guess is that since I have not ate healthy that there were low levels of toxins or smell that were coming through my pores that kept women from being interested.

      I would like to learn more about how to fix this through diet and exercise. Don’t want to be alone anymore. Would appreciate any tips.

      • For actual heavy metals, eat a lot of cilantro. For toxins and changing the pH of the body, simply eat Paleo. This is my protocol: add offal once a week, prefer wild fish and have small amounts daily, eat oysters (even canned) once a week (not at the same time as liver, they’re both too powerful), drink or cook with home-made bone broth DAILY, drink goat milk kefir (if you do dairy), eat sea vegetables 2 times a week, get off coffee and tea (go for herbal teas), sauerkraut/kimchi, and lots and lots of non-fluoride water (choose spring water). In addition, go out to the sun daily, walk barefoot often in touch with the soil, sleep by 10:30 PM (dim lights by 8 PM), and avoid too much cellphone/wifi usage.

        • Cilantro? I heard a horror story of cilantro. Some guy ate it daily because he thought it would do him good so he ate large cilantro salads. Result? Acne and hair growth all over hands, arms, legs, pubes. He got anxiety. Were toxins just moving around to different parts of body not getting fully removed? Maybe mercury suppressed his testosterone? Not sure if I want to eat it after hearing about this freak show incident.

          • That’s absurd. Coming from a South-East asian background cilantro is like the mother of all herbs in my household. No cooking would be done without cilantro.

            We would eat it both cooked and raw and usually in large amounts, haven’t suffered a monstrous growth of acne as of yet 🙂

        • And I truly love how you think Eugenia. I’ve been following this type of regime for about nearly a month. I’ve yet to make home-made bone broth though, but oddly enough bone broth was widely consumed where I’m from to begin with anyways, guess I should go back to my roots 😀

        • No Cilantro, please. Cilantro stir your toxins but it doesn’t eliminate them. Be careful. Some studies show that Chlorella is the most powerful natural remover toxins. But certainly not Cilantro, it could be also dangerous stir metals when you dont remove then with chlorella or another sustance. Here for more info: http://customers.hbci.com/~wenonah/new/9steps.htm and see also the Klinghardt Protocol
          Be careful about what you say. You are on a public platform.

  19. My wife and I are attempting to get out of our non-paleo holiday rut by doing a 30-day paleo pure. It’s really amazing. The reality is that we are eating less, and better. If only we had time to prepare these great feasts. Tonight it’s hamburgers, pastured eggs, veges including avocado, lettuce, tomato onion and homemade mayo. We’ve been making mayo for about a year now and initially it was a huge chore and now it’s like clockwork. Practice.

  20. My biggest change since starting paleo has been the complete end to acne! I didn’t know if it was removing certain oils, gluten or sugar from my diet. Gradually over the last few months I’ve increased my carb intake with sweet potatoes etc (plus the occasional non-paleo treat) No effect on my skin. If I have a gluten food within 24hrs there is a spot somewhere! 23 years of wanting to wear a bag over my head are over! No more harsh treatments, no more concealer that never worked anyway! (And no more stomach pain either – imagine thinking that was normal!) No more dark circles under my eyes either. I used to have this terrible scaley skin. No amount of exfolliating would give me that dewey youthful skin. Now my skin beautifully smooth. So happy – just wish I knew about paleo in my teens – I could have avoided years of painful acne.

    I finally got around to making bone broth around October/November 2013 after switching to paleo/primal style eating in June. It was a bit scary at first; listening and smelling this gellatinous bubbly thing in my slow cooker. We started using the using it to braise vegetables and make soups. Its amazing for adding flavour to dishes. Then in January I notice my nails had gotton really strong. I have always had what I call peal-away nails and now they strong without being brittle. Also six weeks after starting paleo I noticed about an inch of new hair growth. My hair is really thick now.

    For me paleo is the beauty diet. I have a tight stomach without any exercise. I am no longer a fat-skinny person. I am much more muscular and I eat loads. One place I really notice is my neck. There is a family tendancy towards a wobbly neck and mine had become more prominent after a course of steroids. Now that has tightened up hugely. I’m still working on a lot of health difficulties but if the outside is anything to go by the insides must be improved too.