Your Ultimate Guide to Healthy Skin
By Krista Elliott
When thinking about our health, we tend to focus on our inner body but rarely give much thought to our outer shell — our skin. Your epidermis is the top part of your skin, and is your body's largest and fastest-growing organ. It provides protection for our internal organs, skeletal system, muscles, blood, and more. It keeps all those important things from falling out (which is kind of important), and helps prevent infection-causing impurities such as dirt and toxins from getting in.
As infants, we have lovely, soft and smooth skin; there's a good reason why "smooth as a baby's bottom" is a common expression. But as we get older, our skin becomes less supple, develops lines, and becomes more susceptible to discoloration, lumps, bumps, acne, dermatitis, eczema, wrinkles, and -- if we're not careful -- skin cancer.
To care for your skin, and have a radiant complexion, try to stick to these essential habits:
Frying is for Potatoes, Not Skin
Avoid extended sun exposure during peak daylight hours between noon and 3 p.m. Yes, even during the colder months. The sun may not feel as hot in December, but it can (and will) still damage your skin.
If you do go out, don't forget sunblock. There are many moisturizers and foundations that contain SPF, which will help protect your skin.
Butt Out, Already
Smoking reduces blood flow, and thus slows down the rate at which oxygen and healthy nutrients travel throughout your body, including your skin. This can make you look sallow.
Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity.
Repetitive facial expressions made when smoking, such as pursing your lips and squinting your eyes, can contribute to wrinkles.
- And don't think vaping exempts you from this. All of these effects apply whether you're smoking regular cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
You Are What You ... Drink?
Alcohol dehydrates the skin. This means your skin may appear less plump and fresh. As well, alcohol can create inflammation to the skin, histamine reactions, and if consumed in large quantities, enlarged and broken capillaries in the face.
Drink lots of water instead. Staying hydrated helps transport oxygen and nutrients to the skin. This keeps skin cells plumped up and you looking healthy. Also, proper hydration helps your filtration organs (kidneys, liver) work better, helping your body clear out waste more efficiently.
Develop and stick to a regular skin care routine, using gentle unscented, hypoallergenic cleansers, scrubs, toners, creams, and lotions.
Stick to quick showers and limit bath time. Water that's too hot can dry out skin, and scrubbing with rough towels can cause microscopic abrasions and irritation.
Make sure you get enough rest. Our body repairs itself while we sleep, which includes skin-cell renewal. It also helps keep those dark circles at bay.
- Bedtime is the optimal time to apply intensive treatments, like retinoid products or concentrated serums. (Don't use retinoids during daytime, as they're broken down by light and can make your skin more sun-sensitive.)
There's not a thing wrong with aging, and no reason not to embrace the lines that decades of smiling have left on your face. But with vigilant skincare, you can maintain a healthy and vital glow and soft, velvety skin well into your golden years, showing the world that beauty may be more than skin-deep, but having gorgeous skin definitely helps!