Pampering Your Skin with the Basics
By Danielle Mellace MD
When it comes to skincare, your basic over-the-counter facial bar is not going to cut it. Just like you have to take care of your health, your skin needs nurturing too! Here are 10 steps to healthy skin for a lifetime:
1. Sun exposure and facial aging
One of the most effective ways to protect your skin is to avoid sun exposure. Too much sun exposure can cause age spots, wrinkles, and an increased risk of skin cancer and other skin problems. Taking steps to protect your skin when out in the sun is important. Here’s how:
Suns Rays: It is important to block both UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays are associated with causing sunburn, whereas UVA rays increase risk of wrinkles. Both UVA and UVB are associated with skin cancer.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor): It is best to choose a sunscreen that has SPF 30, which blocks 97% of UV rays. Physical sunscreens are comprised of inorganic molecules that sit on the surface of the skin and reflect or scatter UV radiation. Chemical sunscreens are composed of organic substances that penetrate the corneocytes and absorb the UV rays to protect the skin. Sunscreen prevents cellular damage and age-related skin damage. There really is no added benefit to levels greater than SPF 30.
Choosing a Sunscreen: For full protection, opt for a sunscreen with protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Ingredients with this full protection include benzophenones, cinnamates, sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, and ecamsule.
Water Resistance: Most sunscreens that are water resistant are only so for roughly 40-80 minutes and always need re-application regularly during a day in the sun!
Peak Sun Time: The sun’s rays are strongest between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. It’s best to seek shade and maximize protection during this time.
Sensitive Skin: If you have sensitive skin or a skin condition, look for sunscreens without fragrances, alcohol, or preservatives. Use sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
2. Smoking cessation
Smoking is known to age your skin, causing an older and aged appearance. The repetitive action of facial muscles used to smoke such as pursing the lips and squinting the eyes contributes to wrinkles. Smoking narrows facial blood vessels depleting oxygen and nutrients to the skin. This damages elastin and collagen; two important fibers that give skin its youthfulness, strength, and elasticity.
3. Skin care
Cleansing: Keep a proper cleansing routine and look for a mild, soap-free cleanser that is formulated for your skin type. Different skin types include: dry or oily, pigmented or non-pigmented, wrinkled or tight, and sensitive or resistant. Gentle cleansing removes dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria.
Moisturizers and Ingredients: Facial moisturizers that are lipid-based lock in water, which keeps the skin looking plump and smooth. Moisturizers work by blocking water from escaping the skin or drawing water from the inner dermis to the top of the skin. It is best to apply the moisturizer to damp skin and also to the neck. For sensitive skin, look for oil-free and fragrance-free; and for oilier faces, try non-comedogenic formulas.
Seasonal Considerations: During warmer months you can lighten up on your moisturizer, using non-greasy formulations to prevent breakouts. However, during the winter, more skin protection is needed. Try using a richer moisturizer to prevent dryness.
Nonprescription Additives: Retinol, the vitamin A compound, has shown to help in the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles.
Exfoliation with facial scrubs is essential for a clear complexion and to remove the top dead layers of skin. It encourages production of new healthy cells and improves blood circulation giving a your skin a smooth and clear appearance.
5. Foods for glowing skin
Look for foods that are high in antioxidants, nutrients, and essential vitamins, such as dark green leafy vegetables. This can give our skin radiance! Foods high in vitamin C, such as kiwi, berries, guavas, oranges, grapefruit, and bell peppers, are thought to protect our skin against the onset of wrinkles and boosts collagen production. Foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, herring, or walnuts, provide protection against inflammation, acne, scaly skin, and redness. Foods containing high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A, such as carrots, help flush out toxins leaving your skin vibrant and healthy.
6. Water for life!
Drinking water throughout the day is important for flushing toxins from our body and keeping our body and skin well hydrated. This gives our skin a beautiful glow and keeps wrinkles at bay. Keep in mind, water is water, and other liquids such as sports drinks, sodas, teas and juices do not replace the purity and benefit of a healthy glass of good quality water. It is recommended to have a minimum of 6-8 glasses of water daily.
Alcohol in excess can dehydrate your skin and body, which can, over time, age your skin and cause facial puffiness due to fluid and electrolyte depletion. Drinking alcohol is also one etiology for the development of a skin condition called rosacea (redness on the cheeks and nose). Alcohol can dilate the blood vessels closest to the outer layer of the skin causing tiny, not so attractive, broken capillaries on the face. Avoid or limit alcohol for clear skin and a healthy body.
Did you know that every cell in the body benefits from physical activity? Some will say that working up a sweat is the equivalent to getting a mini facial. It reduces body inflammation, helps to regulate skin-significant hormones, and helps prevent free-radical damage. During exercise, the tiny facial arteries in the skin dilate allowing nutrients to get in. This process boosts collagen production, repairs sun exposed skin damage, and removes environmental pollutants. Besides a smoother, more radiant glow to your skin, regular exercise can boost your confidence and help you to feel and look young and beautiful. Exercise is the best medicine for anti-aging!
9. Stress relief, inner peace and calmness
Remaining calm and as stress-free as possible is important for maintaining a healthy, youthful appearance. Here are a few ways to help with stress reduction for a glowing face and beautiful skin: exercise, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, deep breathing exercises, walking, keeping a positive frame of mind, and journaling.
10. Beauty sleep
Not only does lack of sleep affect your energy levels throughout the day, but it also diminishes the health of your skin and increases the appearance of age and fine lines. Sleep deprived skin is more susceptible to UV radiation and other environmental stressors. If you’re not sleeping enough, you’re not giving your skin enough time for rejuvenation and repair. Recent studies indicate that poor sleepers show increased signs of intrinsic skin aging which include photo-aging, fine lines, reduced elasticity, and slackening of the skin. To avoid unwanted signs of aging, work on getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Start with turning off electronics an hour before bed and wind down with calming music instead.
It’s no surprise that we all strive for beautiful skin. And to get it you need to take care of it. Start with skin pampering basics like the ones mentioned above and you’ll see the results you desire in no time!