Saturday, April 7, 2012

Maintaining Healthy Skin

Our morning routine is no time for self indulgence. Typically, five minutes is all most of us can afford to devote to skin care before we head out for the day. However, incorporating these five skin care rules into your daily lives will ensure that you'll never need more than those 5 minutes to keep up that ageless appearance.

Rule #1: Avoid the sun!

Sure we all look better with a tan, but before this trend was popular, paleness was a sign of beauty and wealth. So where did we go awry? Well leave it to Coco Chanel to ignite a complete reversal of the image when arriving home from a vacation looking bronze. This must have been the birth of the freckle, sun spot, and skin cancer. Thankfully, with the advent of sunless tanning, we can achieve the sun kissed look sans the damage. However, it does not protect our skin from those nasty ultraviolet (UV) rays. So, never leave the house without applying sunscreen, at least SPF 15. Most facial lotions already have it mixed in, but be sure to double check the label. Additionally, avoid the sun during the "Prime Tanning Hours" of 10am-4pm. If you do expect to spend an extended period of time out during this time frame wear sun glasses, and a wide brimmed hat. Squinting leads to the development of crows feet, and UV rays also cause eye damage. Hats provide an extra layer of protection, and will also keep color treated hair from fading prematurely.

Rule #2: Drink more water!

Put down that soda, and pick up a water bottle. You're not doing yourself any favors by getting jacked up on caffeine all day. Caffeine dehydrates the body which contributes to the drying, and aging of skin. Alcohol also causes dehydration, and depletes the body of Vitamin A, an important antioxidant. It can cause broken capillaries, and aggravates rosacea. Excessive consumption of it damages the liver which then cannot properly rid the body of toxins. Toxins accelerate the aging process, and are accumulated from pollutants in the environment, and preservatives in food and beverages. Water is the only fluid that can flush out these toxins. An inadequate intake of water forces them to release through the skin causing damage, and break outs. Proper hydration will also help alleviate those unsightly dark circles under the eyes. So substitute water for your usual iced coffee or appletini once a week,and maybe next happy hour you'll be carded!

Rule #3: Quit stressing!

Stress and skin problems are directly related. So it's no coincidence that you have flair ups the night before a presentation, or a party you've been planning. Unfortunately, we can't avoid stress, but managed properly we can prevent additional aggravation caused by skin problems stemming from it. Stress causes an increased amount of oil production and secretion, which if trapped under the skin leads to acne. An easy way to de-stress is to break a sweat. Exercise will not only release Endorphins that contribute to feeling happy, but produce sweat that will unclog pores. It also increases circulation that helps deliver nutrients, and oxygen to the skin making for a more glowing complexion. Sweating might not be the most attractive process, but it's a natural alternative to harsh chemicals in some facial cleansers, and an easy way to release stress. So during periods of increased stress it's important to pay extra attention to skin care.

Rule #4: Maintain a healthy diet!

Healthy skin starts from the inside out. Providing it with proper vitamins and nutrients from is something that no cream can accomplish on its own. Focus on adding foods rich in Omega-3, Vitamin C, A, and E to your diet. Omega-3 found in seafood, increases the production of collagen and elastin needed to keep the skin moist and youthful looking. Vitamin C from fruits such as oranges, and grapefruits, while known to boost the immune system, also negates the effects of free radicals; unstable molecules found in the natural environment that age the skin. Vegetables such as carrots, and spinach provide Vitamin A. This is a key component in the fight against wrinkles because it is converted into retinol, a compound in most all anti-wrinkle creams on the market. It stimulates new cell growth that reduces the appearance of wrinkles, and fine lines, as well as fades age spots. Lastly Vitamin E found in nuts such as almonds, and walnuts, acts as an antioxidant that protects skin cell membranes from damaged caused by exposure to UV rays. They also contain fatty acids that help to prevent and treat dryness associated with such skin disorders as acne, psoriasis and eczema. While purchasing these vitamins in pill form sounds like a good idea, in some cases they can have the opposite effects. So head to the grocery store and get creative with skin care in the kitchen!

Rule #5: Be gentle!
Daily cleansing is a standard routine, but if performed too often or with overly harsh products it can be damaging. Be gentle and keep it in moderation. Don't take excessively hot or long showers. It will strip too much oil from your skin forcing your body to overcompensate and produce excess oil. Also be sure that your using a body soap that's free of synthetic ingredients or chemicals. Remember our skin is a porous surface, and absorbs what's put on it. Try an organic soap with all natural ingredients such as, olive oil, and almond extract. They do the same job, but without the unnecessary additives. After cleansing try not to rub the water off, instead gently pat away excess moisture. Lastly, chose a facial cleanser and moisturizer specific to your skin type. Limit washing your face to twice a day, morning and night. Always follow with moisturizer. Avoid products containing a high alcohol alcohol, and fragrance, they can dry out your skin. Look for oil free, and non-comedogenic products, they're designed to clean without leaving residue that clogs pores. It may be a bit of an experiment, finding the right combination of products that works for you but ultimately worth the results.

Rule #6: Quit smoking!
Studies find that smoking prematurely ages skin by disrupting your body's natural process of breaking down old skin and replacing it with fresh skin. Smoking also triples your risk of squamous cell skin cancer (not to mention numerous other cancers).

So what have we learned? Mostly what we already knew, but don't make enough time for. It's easy to forget why these things are important in lives as busy as ours. It's time to get back to the basics. Use common sense, be vigilant, and take care of yourself, not just for your skins sake, but for your sake.

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