Did you know skin is the biggest organ in our bodies? It actually accounts for 12-15% of our total body weight. Pretty fascinating, right? Especially since we think of skin as the outer covering of the body rather than an organ.
Human skin is formed from seven layers of ectodermal tissue which protect the underlying bones, muscles, ligament and internal organs. Though skin can appear hairless, in fact, all of it is covered in hair follicles! There are two general types of skin: hairy skin and hairless skin, and there are five main skin types: normal, dry, oily, combination and sensitive.
It’s fair to say skin is the ultimate multitasker organ of the human body. To summarize, it does a pretty good job at protecting us from outside harm. However, when skin health is compromised, its ability to work effectively decreases, which is why we have to make sure we’re taking care of it the best way possible.
There are many internal and external factors that contribute to your skin’s health. Internal factors include genes, hormones, diseases, illnesses, and aging. External ones include eating habits, sleeping habits, exercise, exposure to the sun, stress, dehydration and many more. The bad news is that we have no control over the internal factors, however, the good news is that we can influence the external ones to take care of and improve our skin’s health. Read on to find out how.
1. Eat healthy
Your eating habits contribute greatly to your skin’s health and overall wellbeing. The food you eat could improve your skin inside out, which is why a healthy complexion is depended on a healthy diet. Instead of focusing on specific foods, it’s better to choose an inclusive healthy diet with fruits and vegetables. Replace full-fat dairy products with low-fat ones and opt for whole-grain pasta and bread. Try to include nuts, beans, and seeds in your salads. Here are some of the best foods you can eat for a better skin:
Avocados are a great source of vitamin E, an important antioxidant that protects the skin from oxidative damage.
Walnuts help fight bacteria and inflammation because they’re rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Tomatoes protect the skin against sun damage and also prevent wrinkling. They’re full of beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene.
Red peppers are an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Dark Chocolate is rich in antioxidants which keep the skin hydrated.
Broccoli has many vitamins and minerals important for skin health such as vitamins A and C, and zinc.
Note that you cannot rely only on food to protect your skin from the sun. Regardless of what you eat, you should always put on sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m., and wear clothing that protects you from the sun.
2. Manage your stress levels
Has the following ever happened to you: you’ve been preparing weeks in advance for a big event (eating healthy, getting enough rest etc), only to wake up on the said day to find a pimple on your face? Well, I know I have and turns out there’s a good reason why. Some studies have found a link between skin problems and stress levels. People who get stressed a lot, are more likely to deal with skin problems such as itchy skin, hand rashes, hair loss, flaky scalp, sweating and many more.
Other studies have shown that teens with high-stress levels are 23% more likely to suffer from severe acne compared to those who don’t. One of the main reasons for this may be the production of sebum, the oily substance which can clog pores if over-produces. Stress increases its production, which is why skin problems appear in times of high stress.
That being said, that are many ways you can reduce your stress levels such as yoga, tai chi or meditation. If those are not your things, then go for whatever activity relaxes you more!
3. Moisturize your skin
Keeping the skin moisturized prevents dryness, redness, and itchiness. Skin moisturizers hydrate and help the regeneration of skin cells. Here’s what The American Academy of Dermatology recommends to keep your skin moisturized:
1. Take short showers or bath. Lengthy and excessive washing may strip away the oils and dry the skin out.
2. Opt for warm water instead of hot water.
3. Don’t use harsh soaps. Replace them with gentle and fragrance-free cleansers.
4. Never use harsh brushes, bath sponges, and washcloths. They can seriously damage the skin surface.
5. Moisturize immediately after washing.
6. Wear clothing made out of silk, cotton, and wool.
7. Wash your clothes with hypoallergenic detergent.
4. Say goodbye to smoking once and for all
Studies clearly show that smoking contributes to many skin-related issues, the main one being the early aging of the skin. Smoking narrows blood vessels, which in turn reduce blood flow and leave the skin with low levels of nutrients and oxygen.
Smoking also reduces skin elasticity because it causes the breakdown of collagen and impacts its production. Furthermore, the repetitive muscle movements we make while smoking contributes to the appearance of wrinkles.
Should we go on? Probably not, we’ve already made our point.
5. Get a good night’s sleep
After all, it’s called beauty sleep for a reason. Getting the recommended hours of sleep (at least 7 hours) will do wonders for your skin. And do you know what’s the best part about it? It’s completely free!
During sleep, our bodies regenerate skin, muscles and brain and blood cells. During this time, new collagen is produced. If you’re sleep deprived, your body is unable to produce this element which is key in preventing skin from sagging. Now that you know this, try to get a good 7 hours sleep each day so you look your best!