Want to know how you can keep your skin looking good? Follow Dr Unnati Desai’s seven steps to healthier looking skin.
Ageing may be inevitable but there are certain things you can do to keep your skin looking healthier and youthful for longer.
1. Be Sun Safe with Daily UV Protection
I know you’ve heard it before but I’m putting this as number one if you want to keep your skin looking good.
Exposure to the sun’s UV rays is the leading cause of premature skin aging – even in these cool climes.
Using a good sunblock properly is important. This means using a daily sunblock, even in the winter months.
But which one? Here are a few basic rules:
- Look for the stars. A sunblock with a star rating of 3-5 protects from the ageing UVA rays
- A sunblock with an SPF rating of 30-50 protects from the burning UVB rays.
- In winter months an SPF of 15-20 is adequate for day to day use. These are found in a number of moisturisers, so you don’t need two products.
- In the summer months an SPF of 30 is needed.
- When going abroad to warmer climates, this should be upped to an SPF 50 – no less!
- Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide a two ingredients that are physical barriers to UV radiation and should be in a sunblock.
- A hat and clothing to cover the skin is important if spending a length of time outdoors.
2. You Are What You Eat
Eating a well-balanced diet helps insure that the body gets all the vitamins it needs to maintain healthy skin and hair. The following nutrients are great for your skin:
- Vitamin A – Helps maintain healthy, smooth skin by encouraging exfoliation and boosting collagen production. It’s also good for hair. Carrots and sweet potatoes are a good source.
- Riboflavin (B2) – Helps prevent skin disorders, especially around the nose, lips and mouth. Spinach, mushrooms and milk products are good sources as are liver and eggs.
- Niacin (B3) – Helps prevent skin disorders, especially on parts of the body exposed to the sun (sun spots/pigmentation). It also improves hydration and skin barrier function. Think peanuts, white meats, fish, mushrooms and potato.
- Vitamin B6 – Helps prevent skin disorders and cracks around the mouth. you can find this in fish, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (but not citrus fruit)
- Vitamin C – Helps in healing of skin and collagen production. Fruits such as oranges and other citrus fruits are a good sources as are kiwi and mango. Capsicums, broccoli and green peas.
- Vitamin D – Helps keep skin (and bones) healthy. Known as the “sunshine vitamin” it is manufactured by the skin with the help of sunlight but you can also find it in fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon or foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals. Beef liver, cheese and egg yolks are also sources of Vitamin D.
3. Keep your Skin Hydrated
Dry skin conditions can sometimes cause the blood vessels to constrict which means skin cells are not receiving an adequate supply of nutrients. This impairs skin hydration and if the skin is damaged, can prolong the healing process. So, it’s important to keep the skin hydrated skin to better protect it from infections and inflammation.
Again soap substitutes/soap free products are useful to use in the shower/bath as these will cleanse the skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Emollients and moisturisers are also effective, as they help stop water loss from the skin.
Cream based products are useful for the day time, whilst greasier products which moisturise the skin optimally can be are used overnight.
4. Drink Water!
Water is the most important nutrient we consume. The human body is anywhere from 55-75% water. Without water, we could not survive. If you don’t have enough water your skin will appear dry, sallow and crepe-like. While there are no strict guidelines it’s often recommended that people drink 8 glasses of water a day.
5. Cleanse, Yes! Strip bare, No!
Keeping your skin clean is important to prevent infections and odour, but excessive washing – especially with harsh products can strip the skin of its natural oils , making it dry and itchy.
When showering go soap free or use of mild soaps/bath oils on your body. Don’t make your showers or baths too hot – warm water and a damp cloth for cleansing is enough – no harsh mitts required!
6. Quit Smoking
Yes, again, you’ve heard it before, but smoking is another leading cause of premature skin aging. Not only does it increase the breakdown of collagen in our skin, it also inhibits its production which leads to wrinkles and less smooth looking skin.
Over time smokers develop lines around their lips from the repetitive tightening of the muscles around the lips. There is also a reduced blood supply to the skin as smoking constricts blood vessels. This resulting in a reduced oxygen and nutrient supply to the skin. (This is what contributes to heavy smoker’s ashen and/or yellowish skin tone.) The tobacco can also cause the lips to become discoloured.
And, if that weren’t enough, there is also an increased risk of oral cancers, as well as lung and other cancers, plus the well-known risk of respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
7. Cut Back on the Cocktails
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol dilates or enlarges the blood vessels, resulting in flushing of the cheeks. This is bad news for people with rosacea and acne.
Alcohol also depletes the amount of Vitamin C in our bodies – a powerful antioxidant, that helps repair cell damage and protects and encourages collagen production. With less Vitamin C, we are prone to premature skin aging.
If too much alcohol is consumed over a period of time, the dilated blood vessels can become damaged, resulting in permanent redness.
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