The skin is the largest body organ and is comprised of three layers. The outermost protective layer is known as the Epidermis, the elastic resilient middle layer is the Dermis while the subcutaneous layer of fat beneath the dermis is the Subcutis. The skin serves several functions including protection, secretion, excretion, heat regulation, sensation and absorption.
Skin reflects well-being and good care starts from within. Nutrition and water consumption are important factors. A well balanced diet with the right vitamin and mineral supplementation goes a long way at determining how healthy the skin looks. Adequate water intake hydrates the skin and aids the flushing out of toxic waste. Eliminating what we put into our bodies is essential for overall health as well as healthy skin. If your colon is sluggish, toxic waste can be reabsorbed into your bloodstream and eliminated through your skin showing up as breakouts.
To tackle Constipation, increase water intake, add more fiber to your diet and eat high quality foods that contain a lot of water, vitamins and minerals like fruits and vegetables. Poor nutrition may show up as dry and dull skin and could indicate Vitamin B deficiency. Protein is needed for cell growth and anti-oxidant vitamins A, C & E are needed to fight pollution. Linoleic acid, found in Evening Primrose Oil, helps the skin form its protective barrier that prevents it from becoming itchy, dry and rough. It is now known that Zinc deficiency greatly contributes to the development of stretch marks. You can boost vitamin intake by eating five servings of fresh vegetables and fruits a day.
Add good oils like extra virgin olive oil, nut and avocado oils to your diet. Zinc is found in shellfish, lean meat, lentils and spinach. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, help reduce inflammation and improve the skins texture and appearance.
Exercise improves circulation, which increases oxygen and nutrient delivery to the skin and also helps expel toxins. Smokingis bad for the skin as free radicals reduce the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and Nicotine inhibits the absorption of Vitamin C essential for collagen production. Smokers usually have lines around their lips from repeated puckering when inhaling and in addition, the rate at which the skin sags and wrinkles by the breakdown of collagen and elastin is accelerated by this habit.
Alcohol and Sodium should be consumed in moderation as alcohol dilates capillaries increasing their fragility thus causing your face to look bruised or splotchy. Salt on the other hand promotes water retention leading to a bloated, puffy appearance.
To keep Skin Healthy, Your twice-a-day basic routine should consist of three steps:
Consistency with the basics gives the best results and any product used on the face should also be applied to the neck and décolleté. The skin on the neck is thinner and has fewer oil glands but responds to therapy and is also quick to show signs of neglect.
Step 1: Cleansing
A cleanser helps remove oil and debris from the surface of the skin and may come as soap (liquid or bar), cleansing milk or cleansing cream. It is best to use tepid water and avoid extremes of temperature as hot and cold water can easily damage the fragile facial capillaries leading to couperose, redness and sensitivity. Cleansing is the most important step in basic skincare providing a clean surface for products to be effectively absorbed. Skin is naturally acidic with a pH of 5 – 6. The cleansing process usually disrupts this state as most cleansers tend to be alkaline in nature. The skin’s acidity helps protect against bacterial invasion so it is very important to restore this acid mantle after cleansing by using a toner. If you use a washcloth, be gentle to avoid dragging on the skin and if you use make-up, cleanse twice; the first time to remove the make-up and the second to clean the skin.
A toner also known as an astringent, freshener or clarifying lotion is used to re-acidify your skin preparing it for your moisturizer. You may apply it with a cotton pad, splash it on like after-shave or spray it on. If it contains alcohol you may feel tightening or dryness, which is caused by the toner dehydrating the skin. When the skin is stripped of moisture and oil, it overcompensates by producing more oil.
A moisturizer is an emollient oil-in-water mixture that usually comes as a cream, lotion or gel depending on skin type. Gel is thinner and less moisturizing than cream and lotion is in between. Skin types vary from Dry, Normal and Combination, Oily and Sensitive. It is very important to use a moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type. Generally, dry skins should use cream while oily skins should use gel. Moisturizers generally hydrate and nourish the skin and eye area. Eye creams are formulated specifically for the eye area, which has delicate, thin skin devoid of oil glands. There are day and night creams, which usually differ in ingredient content.
At night the body works hard to repair damage brought upon by environmental stress such as pollution and exposure to wind and harmful UVA and UVB rays. This is the time when it regenerates itself so treatments tend to work best at night when an optimum environment is created. It stands to reason that getting enough sleep, at least 7 hours, is beneficial for healthy skin. A sleep deprived person looks older and more haggard and this is worse around the eyes. Sleep deprivation also causes the facial skin to sag with shadows appearing under the eyes.
Some Day moisturizers have added sunscreen. I recommend however, that a sunscreen be applied after moisturizing as this is the FIRST LINE of defense against premature aging. Exposure to the sun leads to the breakdown of the supportive elastin and collagen. A sunscreeen with a minimum of SPF 30 should be applied to All Exposed parts of the body.
Extra treatments to add once or twice a week are Exfoliation and using a clay-based mask. Exfoliation removes dead cell buildup, stimulates circulation and de-clogs pores giving skin a healthy glow. Exfoliants include scrubs, peels and gommage. A gommage is a non-abrasive gel type peel gentle enough for the eye area that is massaged onto the skin, adheres to dead cells and flakes off when dry.
Clay deep cleanses, stimulates and soothes the skin and acts by lifting debris and impurities from pores.
The use of steam softens dead cells, opens pores, softens grease and debris thus making it easier to exfoliate and deep cleanse. It also improves circulation and boosts cell metabolism.
It is a good idea to have a professional facial once a month or weekly if you can afford it or find the time
Alleviating stress goes a long way at keeping the skin healthy. Stress compromises the immune system, weakening your ability to fight off illness. This adversely affects skin as the body goes into the fight-or-flight mode mechanism of defense. In this situation, blood flow is redirected to internal organs to defend itself and preserve life thus reducing blood flow to the skin. Chronic stress increases tension lines on the face and associated insomnia speeds up the aging process as skin regeneration that goes on during sleep is disrupted.