Being a guy and a rough one at that, I tend to not put much emphasis on my skin health. Why would I, that isn’t manly and I prefer to have a bit more character in how I look. But the thing is, I don’t really want to look like prune face from the Dick Tracy movie so I probably should consider what habits I might be able to introduce to avoid becoming an old school prune faced villain.
When I started looking into skin health, what caught my interest most, is the fact that following many of the rules that I currently apply to my health regime in general, also have a positive effect on skin health. There seems to be a reoccurring theme, that is becoming more and more evident as I research general health and wellbeing. I will leave that for you to ponder and focus on skin health in this article.
Skin care, is a multi-billion dollar industry. Billions of dollars are poured into skin care products every year, either to create them or to obtain them. The money we spend on products, which are meant to aid in skin health and appearance, is epic. So what does this tell us? It tells
us that people care about their skin or more likely their appearance and how they are perceived by others. Whatever the reason, skin health is obviously on the agenda for many.
So why care about your skin?
Your skin is the most important barrier of protection from our environment.
Our skin protects us from UV radiation
Its is a semi-permeable membrane which allows necessary absorption and elimination/ perspiration to take place.
It has its own functions necessary for the maintenance and health of your body, such us production of Vitamin D.
It helps maintain core temperature at a stable level.
It connects your nervous system to the outside world allowing for reaction to stimulus etc.
It has the ability to heal and recover.
Now you have an idea of the importance of your skin and its health, I will provide some tips to help you maintain and improve this health. As I prefer to focus on natural and organic strategies, I will leave the marketing of chemical products to the companies selling them. This isn’t to say that some or many don’t have positive benefits but that is something for the individual consumer to decide.
So here it is. What can help your skin and what can hurt it. The Good and the Bad.
Staying hydrated. Our bodies are made up of between 50-70% water, so it should be obvious as to why it is so important to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated effects the suppleness of your skin. It will appear full and soft as opposed to dry and weathered.
Drinking green tea due to its anti-inflammatory properties, possibly reducing skin redness and similar problems.
Reducing stress. This is due to the fact that stress causes your body to release cortisol, which can have a detrimental effect on your immune system. The immune system is important in the maintenance of your skins health.
Aim to be in clean fresh air, whenever and wherever you can. Ventilated, smoky, dry air will dry you out and sometimes cause your skin to become oilier. Allow some fresh air to circulate whilst indoors. The importance of airing has been highlighted throughout past wars, where not airing your feet and allowing them to dry in the open air could mean trench foot, infection and possible amputation. So, kind of important.
Only allow Sun exposure in short increments, around 10-15 minutes 4 times a week approx, to 15-30% of your body. I know this one isn’t going to happen for most Aussies. We love being out in the Sun, the outdoors and the beach, so instead, just protect yourself as much as possible. If you value skin health highly then you can adopt this principle.
Reduce dairy. Dairy foods have been linked to poor skin health. Specifically problems with acne.
Having a good nights sleep. I think this is obvious. Have you seen the difference in your face after a bad nights sleep compared to a good nights sleep. It runs deeper than that though. Sleep is our bodies chance to recover and recuperate. Poor sleep inhibits the processes required to maintain good general health.
Exercise consistently. This doesn’t have to be crazy intense workouts, just enough to get your blood pumping and lymph system moving. These systems carry good and bad around your body. Waste and nutrients to and from your cells. Blood flow is important to your skin health.
Coconut oil. Coconut oil can act as a moisturizer and antibacterial agent. It is natural and easily absorbed by your skin. Aim to use extra virgin, virgin and organic coconut oil. One caveat however is, although coconut oil appears to be beneficial to most as far as maintaining skin heath, it can have a detrimental effect on skin for some individuals. Should you have very dry or oily skin, it may aggravate your skin issues more. This appears to effect few individuals, but it is something to be aware of.
Eats Fruit and vegetables often. Some fruit and vegetables contain lycopene and beta-carotene which supports healthy skin and complexion. Foods such as- tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, apricots, carrots, peaches, pumpkins. Here is a simple rule that may help. Think about which fruit and vegetables have colours, that if mixed, could produce and natural skin tone. Fruit and veg that is yellow, red, orange, pink etc. This isn’t a hard and fast rule and obviously I’m not talking about all skin tones in relation to the colour.
Apply a moisturizing sunscreen. You can probably do this every single day. I think we all tend to think sunscreen is only for sunlight, but it’s the UV rays that do the damage. It doesn’t have to be bright and sunny.
Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera has multiple benefits for your skin. Its treats sun burn, moisturizes, fights ageing, and reduces the visibility of stretch marks. (link) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp3fzG8gstQ
Earth. Your feet, believe it or not, were not really created to be shoved into a pair of shoes. Allowing yourself to walk barefoot on occasion when you are in the right environment can be very helpful to the health of your feet, in particular the skin.
Too much heat. Too much sun, sauna and hot showering can damage your skin both in the short and long term.
Allowing yourself to become dehydrated. This can be through lack of water or too many diuretics.
Too much salt. Again this is necessary but excess will suck the moisture out of your body.
Stress. Again, too much cortisol pumping around your body can mess with its natural functioning in numerous ways.
Excess Sugar. Sugar causes Glycation. What is this? This is when excess sugar is present in your blood. Sugar binds to protein molecules and then goes on the rampage. Inflammation occurs, which causes the body to produce enzymes. These enzymes break down collagen and elastin resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin. Link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjHOM2la_Fk
Lack of exercise. So get up and get moving.
Too much alcohol
Too much makeup. This can inhibit your skins ability to breathe and function normally. Be sure to wash it off and avoid going to bed with makeup on.
Chlorine from swimming pools. Washing with soap after can help avoid negative effects of chlorine on your skin.
Smoking cigarettes and to much caffeine. Kind of annoying because I love coffee, but too much can make me look I’m wearing make-up for a zombie movie. Both smoking and caffeine will take a toll on your skin. You have to decide how important your next hit of nicotine or caffeine is. If you don’t mind the over-tired zombie look, then thats a personal choice, otherwise steer clear for a better complexion.
Recognise that we are all different and so is our skin. So do what works for you.