The skin is the body’s largest organ, and taking care of it is essential for our overall health and wellbeing. From stress and office air conditioning, to hot and cold weather, our skin goes through a lot in one day. If not cared for, the tolls of daily life can begin to manifest in things like skin conditions, premature ageing, and even cancer.
Therefore, it’s important to take good care of your skin health. And while there’s no one magic formula to healthy, glowing skin, there are many simple things that you can do to help.
From knowing your skin type and staying on top of your sunscreen to managing stress levels, here are 10 tips for healthy skin.
What's our skin made of?
Our skin is made up of three layers…
The epidermis (top layer of skin). This is the layer of skin that we see and touch everyday. The epidermis is constantly shedding dead skin cells and replacing them with new healthy cells that grow in the lower layers. It’s also where your pores are, which allow oil and sweat to escape.
The dermis (second layer). The dermis is thicker than the epidermis and contains all oil and sweat glands, hair follicles, connective tissues, nerve endings, and lymph vessels. Full of elastin and collagen, the dermis also helps to support skin strength and elasticity.
Subcutaneous fat (third layer). This is the deepest layer of skin that keeps your body insulated and can also act as a cushion shock-absorber for your vital organs. The subcutaneous fat also attaches your skin to the tissue and muscle below it.
Why is it important to look after your skin health?
Your skin doesn’t just mark the boundary between you and the outside world – it’s responsible for critical health function, and protects your body from disease and exposure.
So, practising good skin care is important in promoting overall good health, as well as reducing the risk of premature ageing or developing skin problems.
According to dermatologists, those who take the time to tend to their skin regularly are more likely to be making healthy choices in general, too.
10 tips for healthy skin
1. Protect yourself from the sun
One of the most important things that you can do to look after your skin health is to protect it from the sun.
Many people think that the best way to achieve sun-kissed skin is to catch some rays – yet the powerful UV rays from the sun are actually the main cause of premature ageing and skin cancer. In fact, it’s estimated that around 90% of skin ageing is caused by the sun.
The epidermis contains a pigment called melanin, which protects our skin from UV rays. But too much sun exposure means UV rays begin to penetrate the epidermis and reach the inner layers of skin. This causes collagen to break down at a higher rate than usual, and results in sunburn – where skin cells can die, become damaged, or eventually develop into cancer.
It’s important to take measures like wearing and reapplying sunscreen, making use of clothing like sun hats, and limiting time in the sun, to protect yourself. For further advice, have a read of these tips for protecting your skin from the sun on Cancer.Net.
2. Stop smoking
Research shows that smoking doubles your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SSC) – the second most common type of skin cancer. It’s thought that tobacco smoke suppresses the immune system and allows cancer cells to evade recognition.
Smoking also affects the general health and appearance of skin because it deprives it of oxygen and nutrients. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, many of which can initiate the destruction of collagen and damage building blocks of skin, which causes skin to sag. In some people, smoking may also cause the skin to go very pale, while for others, their skin may develop an uneven colour.
3. Be gentle with your skin
Regardless of your skin type, dermatologists and other skincare experts agree that one of the worst things you can do for your skin is to treat it too harshly. A few tell-tale signs that you’re being too harsh on your skin include breakouts, dryness, grease, and rashes.
Skin care practices like exfoliation – which helps to remove dead cells that build up on the surface – can be too harsh on the skin if not practised correctly. To avoid irritation, it’s important to use the correct exfoliator for your skin type, and not to overdo it.
For instance, some people can exfoliate daily, while once a week is enough for others. If you notice irritation, excessive dryness, redness, or sensitivity, it’s likely that you’re exfoliating either too frequently or too aggressively. For guidance, you can read about how to choose the best exfoliator for your skin type on Beautiful With Brains.
Other tips for being more gentle with your skin include patting it dry instead of rubbing, not washing your face more than twice per day, and avoiding drying ingredients.
4. Follow a healthy diet
While many of us are conscious about how our diet affects our weight, a healthy diet is just as important for maintaining healthy skin.
Eating lots of highly processed food, ready meals, and refined carbohydrates like sweets and pastries can cause mild inflammation and worsen skin problems such as acne. Diet also plays an important role in how well the skin can protect us against damage from UV rays.
Good options include fish, which is a great source of protein and essential for collagen production, and omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and promote skin health. In addition, brightly coloured fruit and veg are a great source of vitamin A and C, which help fight against free radicals and promote skin cell reproduction.
You can read more about which foods nourish your skin in this article from I am Herbalife Nutrition.
5. Take steps to manage your stress levels
Our bodies respond to psychological changes, including conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression, which can cause new or existing skin issues to flare up.
When we’re stressed, our bodies release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This can lead to an overproduction of oil in our skin glands, causing them to become clogged and prone to acne.
Stress also has the potential to weaken your immune system, which can lead to an imbalance of bacteria in your gut and skin, leaving you more sensitive to rashes, redness, and conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and contact dermatitis.
For advice on ways to manage your stress levels, have a read of our article; 7 tips for coping with stress and anxiety.
6. Stay hydrated
When it comes to skin health, drinking enough water is one of the easiest and best beauty treatments you can use. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s made mostly of water. If you don’t drink enough water, your skin will become tight, dry, and flaky.
Benefits of drinking plenty of water on the skin include improved complexion, reduced puffiness, faster healing, smaller pores, and tighter skin. For example, this study found that drinking 2.25 litres of water a day for four weeks significantly improved people’s skin density and thickness.
Staying hydrated also helps the liver to eliminate toxins from the body and can improve kidney function (helping to reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes). In addition, staying sufficiently hydrated may play a role in improving skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
According to dermatologists, people should aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep the skin hydrated enough and working properly.
7. Practise good makeup hygiene
When it comes to skin health, makeup hygiene is just as important as your daily skincare routine. Poor makeup practices can breed a host of germs and bacteria that can easily irritate skin.
It’s important to always wash your face before applying makeup to avoid transfer of bacteria on your hands to your face. And while it’s easy to forget that makeup has an expiration date – the older the product, the more susceptible it is to growing bacteria. Expiration dates will usually be shown on the bottom of your makeup products.
In addition, old makeup, bacteria, dust, oil, and sweat all build up on makeup brushes and applicators. If not cleaned regularly, use of dirty applicators can result in inflammation, clogged pores, and acne. Most dermatologists recommend cleaning your makeup tools at least once a week – but the more the better. You can browse makeup tool cleaners on Amazon.
Other useful makeup hygiene tips include keeping your makeup bag clean, storing makeup in a cool dry place, and never sharing your makeup with other people.
8. Get enough good quality sleep
The effects of a poor night’s sleep are often immediately visible on our face. Research has revealed that even just one night of poor sleep can cause swollen eyes, hanging eyelids, dark under-eye circles, paler skin, droopy corners of the mouth, and more fine lines.
Our bodies recover and repair during sleep and the skin carries out important functions like rebuilding collagen levels and repairing damage from UV exposure.
Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase can also help to protect your skin throughout the night. Among other benefits, silk or satin pillowcases cause less friction and irritation to the skin, which can help prevent skin creases, retain skin moisture, and help acne.
9. Know your skin type
Knowing whether you have dry, oily, combination, or sensitive skin is important for looking after your skin health. Using the wrong products for your skin type can worsen acne, dryness, and lead to other skin problems.
For example, if you have combination skin (characterised by having dry cheeks and an oily T-zone) it can be useful to have two separate skincare routines – one for your cheeks and another for your T-zone. While a thick moisturiser may suit your cheeks, a lighter one will suit the oily areas of your face better.
For oily skin, it’s usually best to avoid thick skincare products, and to moisturise right after bathing if you have dry skin.
You can read more about how to identify each skin type and take care of them on the Skinkraft Laboratories website.
10. Pay attention to the seasons
Skin likes consistency, and when factors like weather and humidity suddenly change, it can take a toll on our skin as it adjusts to the new environment.
For instance, from summer to autumn, temperatures fall and our skin has to work harder to maintain sufficient moisture in cold weather. If not taken care of, this can lead to cracks in the outer skin layer, inflammation, and impact the overall state of your skin health. Thicker moisturisers can help at this time.
Equally, skin oil production tends to increase during transition from winter to spring, so lighter products can be useful to help prevent clogged pores and breakouts.
For more tips on how to look after your skin throughout the changing seasons, you can visit the Aker Seasonal Skincare website.
Taking care of our skin health is vital not only to protect us against premature ageing, skin conditions, and diseases like cancer, but for our overall health and wellbeing too.
The fact that practising good skin care will help your skin appear more bright and glowy is just another plus.