Originally published on RxGirl on Tuesday, 25 November 2014
“What skin cream do you use? Your skin looks amazing!”
This is a common exclamation from women who admire the flawless skin of those who are either naturally dermatologically blessed or have been proactive about practicing good skin care. Perhaps you are one of the blessed individuals, but most women deal with acne, wrinkles, oiliness, hyperpigmentation, dry skin and dark circles under the eyes, all of which can be addressed with targeted products. If you practice consistent skin care with the right products, you will see improvements in the tone and quality of your skin.
Before delving into topical products in Part 2 of this article, I will utilize Part 1 here to review the many variables which can dramatically influence the quality of the skin.
Sleeping Beauty –
There’s a lot of truth to the adage about getting one’s beauty sleep. When you get adequate sleep, you optimize your body’s ability to repair itself because it has a chance to release human growth hormone in the deep stages of sleep. Conversely, cheating yourself out of a good night’s sleep results in an increase in cortisol release, which increases the amount of inflammation in the body. Basically, the inflammation prevents your cells from repairing damaged collagen, and if this occurs chronically, your skin will adopt an aged appearance. So get some quality shut-eye every night!
Don’t smoke –
I know most of you ladies don’t engage in this habit, but if you do, bear in mind that the habit breaks down the collagen and elastin in your skin, aging you prematurely. Smoking also constricts the blood vessels in the upper layer (epidermis), which interferes with delivery of oxygen and other vital nutrients which are involved in cell renewal. Lastly, the constant pursing of the lips which occurs while puffing on a cigarette causes fine vertical lines (“smoker’s lines”) to develop around the mouth.
Internal antioxidants –
We have all heard of the benefits of daily antioxidant intake and how these nutrients boost the body’s immunity, decrease inflammation, and even improve cognition, so it shouldn’t surprise you that antioxidants also promote cellular repair in the skin as well. Make sure to incorporate foods and supplements which have antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, cofactors like CoQ10, and polyphenols like resveratrol in them.
Hydrate from within –
Drink plenty of water, and you will be rewarded with glowing, healthy skin. Every time I have told a patient who suffered either from dry skin or from stubborn acne to drink plenty of water, I have seen dramatic improvement in the quality of their skin after they began drinking at least three liters of water per day. Adequate hydration will ensure that toxins are flushed out of cells and the cells are filled with water.
Healthy fats –
One of the hazards of competing is the tendency for coaches to completely strip dietary fat from contest prep diets. What results is a gaunt, unhealthy, aged appearance in the face which looks terrible and just screams for dermal fillers. Rather than wreak havoc on your youthful appearance, why not keep healthy fats like avocado, MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil, flax seed, almonds, cashews, and fish oil in your daily regimen?
Limit alcohol –
Alcohol is notorious for dehydrating the skin and for that reason alone should be ingested in moderation. Also, since alcohol is toxic to the liver, it impairs the body’s ability to remove other environmental toxins which will be reflected in the quality of the skin. And for those of you who suffer from rosacea, that relaxing glass of red wine with dinner is a big no-no because it will aggravate the condition.
Clean makeup brushes –
When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes? Makeup brushes should be thoroughly washed on a regular basis to remove product build-up, bacteria and oils. If you suffer from acne, you need to be especially diligent about cleaning your makeup brushes regularly. As a general rule, clean foundation and concealer brushes at least once a week (twice a week if acne is a major issue). Eye makeup brushes should be cleaned every two weeks, and other brushes should be cleaned monthly. There are some excellent brush cleaning solvents, but you can mix one part baby shampoo with four parts water for an excellent and cheap brush cleaner.
Sanitize cell phone –
Cleaning your cell phone on a regular basis is a good sanitary practice to adopt, and can also save your skin from acne breakouts and rashes. Think for a minute how much you touch your phone and how much dust, ear wax and fingertip residue can accumulate on its surface. It’s no surprise that putting this bacteria- riddled device next to your cheek can cause skin flare-ups to occur. The best way to clean your phone is to use a soft cloth which is lightly sprayed with a dilute isopropyl alcohol solution (equal parts iso alcohol and water).
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article which will cover topical products and treatments for luminous, youthful skin!