Good skin-care habits are essential – proper cleansing, moisturizing and protection – but equally important are lifestyle issues such as diet, exercise, water consumption and not smoking. Here are some tips to help you create and maintain healthy, glowing skin.
The most important thing you can do to protect your skin is to stop smoking or avoid starting. Smoking can cause premature aging and yellowing of the skin. The tobacco smoke released into the air dries out your skin, while the smoke you inhale constricts blood vessels and the amount of blood flowing to the skin. Smoking can accelerate the normal aging process and wrinkling of your skin. Effects from smoking can be seen in the skin of young adults who have been smoking for as few as 10 years. Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin. This decreases blood flow, depleting the skin of oxygen and nutrients, such as vitamin A. All of these factors increase damage to the elastic fibers (elastin) and collagen which give your skin strength and elasticity. In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — may contribute to wrinkles. It’s also possible that repeated exposure to the heat from burning cigarettes may damage your facial skin over time.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Vitamins and minerals are important for most organs and the skin is no exception. Consider taking a daily multivitamin with antioxidants and keep the following in mind:
- Omega-three fatty acids promote good skin health and ground flaxseeds are an excellent source. Add them to your breakfast cereal for a skin-healthy start to your day.
- Add a glow to your complexion by eating fish twice a week. The oil found in fish helps nourish your skin and keep it soft.
- Vitamin A is essential to healthy skin. Eat plenty of dark orange and dark green vegetables each day.
- Snack on nuts such as hazelnuts or almonds to give your skin a boost of Vitamin E.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables preserve micronutrients, which promote healthy skin.
Rest and Exercise
Exercise is especially good for your skin. Exercise circulates oxygen through your body and enhances your complexion by improving skin tone and maintaining elasticity. The stress of exercise not only improves bone density, but also increases growth hormone production. Exercise also improves healthy cholesterol known as HDL. Sleep is important too. The best way to get rid of the bags under your eyes may be to get adequate sleep on a regular basis.
Keep well hydrated. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day will help keep your skin moist and supple and less susceptible to wrinkling.
Clean skin is healthy skin, but don’t overdo it. Excessive washing depletes the surface oils in the outer layers of the skin and may provoke dermatitis or exacerbate dry skin. This is a mild form of exfoliation. More aggressive exfoliation is actually addressed with natural fruity acids such as glycolic acid and retinoic acid, which actually stimulates collagen production in the deeper skin levels and results in a fresher appearance of the skin.
Use warm water and limit your bath time. Hot water and long bathing times remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time to about 15 minutes or less and use warm, rather than hot, water.
Avoid strong soaps, which strip oil from your skin and leave your skin dry. Instead, choose mild soaps with oils and fats added to them.
Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on the skin.
Avoid irritating additives. If your skin is sensitive, avoid products containing perfumes or dyes. These can irritate your skin and trigger allergic responses.
Use a soft sponge, cotton cloth or cotton balls when removing eye makeup to avoid damaging the delicate tissue around your eyes. If you wear heavy, waterproof makeup, you may need to use an oil-based remover such as petroleum jelly.
Moisturizers help maintain your skin's natural moisture levels. They work by providing a seal over your skin — to keep water from escaping — or by slowly releasing water into your skin. The moisturizer that's best for you and the frequency with which you need to moisturize depends on many factors, including your skin type, your age and whether you have specific conditions such as acne. Select a moisturizer with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to help protect your skin from damaging ultraviolet rays. Apply a moisturizer immediately after cleansing the skin, while it is still slightly damp.
It is important to minimize your skin’s harmful exposure to the sun. Avoid being out during peak sun times, wear a hat and sunglasses and be generous with moisturizers with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher on exposed areas. Wind and cold can also be particularly harsh to exposed areas, especially the lips, so be sure to wear lip protection.