The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It acts as a protective barrier, regulates bodily functions, and provides important sensory information (the sense of touch). We need to take care of our skin as well as it takes care of us.
While the sun is essential to life on earth, and it plays a major role in the body’s Vitamin D production, it is also one of the greatest antagonists to our skin’s health. Too much sun causes sun spots, wrinkling, and even cancer. When in the sun, use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (if you are a person who wants a tan, try non-light-based tanning techniques, and also keep in mind that it is possible to still get a tan while wearing sunscreen). Seek out shade as much as possible, and avoid the sun during 10am – 2pm, when the rays are the strongest.
Watch what goes on and in
While it’s important to wash our skin, hot water and harsh soaps can take their toll. Showers that are too long and hot will make skin all over the body dry and itchy. Before shaving, be sure to apply cream or gel, and shave carefully! After washing, pat dry your skin, rather than wiping it. Wiping it will tug at the skin and cause wrinkling and stretching. Lastly, be sure to moisturize your skin, especially if it tends to be dry.
What we put in our bodies has a huge effect on the skin. Drinking plenty of water is one of the best things we can do for our skin! Studies suggest that diets high in Vitamin C and low in saturated fats and refined carbs keep the skin looking healthy and younger. Additionally, keep out smoke and toxins! Smoking causes major damage and discoloration to the skin, as well as damage to the lungs and other organs.
Stress and sleep
Beauty sleep is a real deal thing! Our bodies repair themselves while we sleep, so it’s essential to get enough sleep–else the body won’t get as retuned as it needs. Studies show that people who get five hours of sleep a night have more fine lines than those who get seven. Sleep promotes blood flow, which improves your complexion.
Stress in your life can show on your skin. When we are stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, which makes the skin oilier and more susceptible to breakouts, rosacea, and eczema (it can also lead to weight gain). Practice stress-management techniques–they’re not only good for your mind; they’re great for your skin!
No matter how carefully we may maintain skin health, we are still vulnerable to skin problems, depending on our genetics and lifestyle. Just as it’s important to get a yearly physical with your general practitioner, it’s essential to get regular checkups with a dermatologist. This is imperative if you are pale, have a history of precancerous lesions, have a family history of skin cancer, or have lots of moles. Of course, if you have acne, funky bumps, or anything else going on with your skin that seems abnormal, get to the dermatologist as fast as you can.