One of the first things people see when they meet you is your skin. Having a clear, glowing complexion makes you look healthier, younger, and more attractive. Healthy skin starts from the inside and nourishing your skin with a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits can help slow the aging process.
Here are 10 factors that damage your skin that you should avoid, and 10 factors to help nourish your skin and give you a healthy glow!
10 Factors that age your skin
1. Sun exposure
UV rays from the sun damage and age your skin. UVA rays give you a suntan, but also cause wrinkles and premature aging. UVB rays are the ones that cause sun burns, and can also trigger skin cancer. Sun exposure can lead to areas of hyperpigmentation. Dark spots are formed as part of skin’s the defense system as it is trying to protect itself.
Protect your skin with a good sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30, but make sure that your sunscreen is not full of harmful chemicals. Look for a mineral sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide, as opposed to a chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into your skin and then absorb UV rays, but some chemicals can have harmful effects. Mineral sunscreens sit on top of your skin and reflect the UV rays – these are a healthier choice. Most sunscreens sold at the pharmacy will be chemical based.
After experimenting with various sunscreens, I really love Daily Shield Lotion Tinted SPF 50 Sunscreen by Epionce. It is great for all skin types, and contains both zinc oxide and titanium oxide as well as botanical ingredients including sunflower, argan oil, rosemary extract and apple fruit extract. Apart from being an effective way to protect your skin, it also applies with a nice “skin feel” (it isn’t thick and greasy like most sunscreens) and it acts as a great base under makeup – in fact it was awarded “Best Under Makeup” by the Shape Magazine 2017 Sun Awards.
2. Air pollution
Chemicals in air pollution are harmful and lead to dryness, acne, and aging skin. For example, carbon monoxide (from car exhaust) depletes the supply of oxygen to the skin, which can cause a dull complexion, dryness and premature aging. Sulfur dioxide (from power plant smoke stacks) can cause damage to the lipid layer protecting your skin, leading to irritation and skin sensitivity.
A good quality mineral sun screen (like Epionce’s Daily Shield Lotion) can also help to protect your skin from environmental toxins.
Heat can also damage your skin. A study done in 2016 study showed damage of collagen and elastin fibers, broken capillaries and development of dark spots when skin was exposed to heat >90 degrees F. Try to stay cool!
Cigarette smoke contains many chemicals that are very harmful to the health of your skin and will lead to increased wrinkles and skin aging. Now is a great time to quit!
You already know that sugar isn’t good for your health, but did you know it ages your skin? When you eat sugar (or things that quickly convert to sugar in your bloodstream, like bread and pasta), your insulin level spikes and causes inflammation, which breaks down collagen and elastin. Sugar sticks to proteins in your body (including collagen in your skin) which promotes wrinkles and also worsens rosacea and acne. Ditch the sugar if you want healthy skin!
6. Processed food
Processed food won’t provide the healthy nutrients your skin needs, and will increase inflammation, which promotes wrinkles. One of the most inflammatory foods is vegetable oil (like corn and soybean oil). Look for extra virgin olive oil instead.
7. Too much alcohol
Alcohol is a diuretic, and promotes dehydration and dry skin. When your liver is busy processing the alcohol it won’t be able to be as effective flushing other toxins from your system. Alcohol can exacerbate rosacea, acne and wrinkles. It can also promote a ruddy skin complexion.
When you are stressed, your body will make more cortisol – which is a “wear and tear” hormone that ages you prematurely. It promotes thinner skin, age spots, and wrinkles. Stress reduction, like yoga, breathing exercises and meditation, can help you feel healthy and help you have healthy skin!
Women often notice rapid skin aging after menopause, mainly due to loss of estrogen. In fact, in one study, menopausal women with the lowest estrogen looked 8 years older than menopausal women with the highest estrogen!
10. Excessive cleansing
Unlike your pots, your skin doesn’t need to be scrubbed. Irritating your skin by scrubbing or using harsh chemical cleansers and skin care products can accelerate aging.
10 Factors to keep your skin young
1. Antioxidant Vitamins
When your skin is damaged by any of the factors listed above, anti-oxidant vitamins, including Vit A, Vit C, and Vit E, are an important defense mechanism to help protect your skin. The vitamins work together, so taking a pill with one vitamin won’t work as well as if you are getting all of them together in a good diet.
For healthy skin, eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables to increase your intake of these important nutrients (this is the most important step!). You can also apply them to your skin. Consider something like Intense Defense Serum from Epionce. It contains natural sources of Vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and acts like a multivitamin for your skin!
2. Omega 3s
Omega 3 fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatory. Lack of omega 3’s can result in dry, scaly or irritated skin. A common condition called “keratosis pilaris”, results in dry bumps on the back of the arms, and sometimes also on the outside of the thighs. Increasing omega 3 intake can help resolve the problem.
It is hard to get enough omega 3s in our modern diet, so deficiencies are very common. Eat more fatty fish (such as salmon), ground flax seeds, and walnuts to boost your levels, but a fish oil supplement can also be helpful.
Exercise is good for your muscles and heart, but it is also great for healthy skin! Regular exercise nourishes the skin by pumping blood throughout your tissues. The improved circulation carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells, and carries away waste products.
Just as we all have bacteria growing in our gut, we also have bacteria growing on our skin. We need the healthy bacteria (probiotics) to keep our gut health, and we also need the right balance of good bacteria for healthy skin.
Eating fermented foods, such as kombucha, kimchi, kefir, or sauerkraut can help to maintain healthy bacteria in your gut (and on your skin!). You can also take a probiotic supplement.
Staying hydrated is very important for heathy skin. Skin is 64 percent water – when you are chronically dehydrated, your skin will look more dull and dry. The average woman will need eight 8oz glasses of water in a day – but you will need more in hot weather and when you are exercising.
A recent medical study looking at 60 women between the ages of 30-49 showed that women who were getting poor quality sleep had more skin aging compared with women of the same age who had good quality sleep. They also showed that the skin of women with poor sleep had less ability to recover after sun exposure. For a healthy body and healthy skin, aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.
7. Vitamin D
Vit D really acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and is important for healthy skin. Instead of getting Vit D in your food, you make it in your skin when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Your skin is constantly replacing dead skin cells, and you need adequate Vit D levels in order to efficiently carry out this task. Vit D is important for the barrier function of your skin, which locks in moisture and keeps your skin soft. If Vit D is insufficient, your skin will become thinner and more fragile, as well as getting dry and wrinkled, and can sag due to loss of the structural support under the skin.
10-20 minutes of sun exposure per day is important – without sunscreen, because sunscreen blocks 100% of Vit D production. During the winter, the suns rays may not be strong enough to make an adequate amount of Vit D no matter how long you stay outside, especially if you live farther north. Most people are Vit D deficient and require a Vit D supplement. You can have your Vit D level measured to know whether you need to take a supplement, and how much to take.
Green tea, berries and pomegranates are rich in a family of nutrients called “polyphenols” which are powerful anti-oxidants. Polyphenols help minimize sun damage from UV rays, reduce inflammation, and even protect your skin cells from DNA damage, minimizing the risk of skin cancer. For healthy skin, make sure to include these foods in your diet. Polyphenols are also available in nutritional supplements, including green tea extract, resveratrol and grape seed extract.
9. SkinPen Microneedling treatments
If you want smoother, brighter skin with less dark spots, rough spots and fine wrinkles, consider microneedling, a new skin treatment that harnesses your body’s own natural ability to heal. Microneedles stimulate your skin to make more restorative collagen and elastin and reduce inflammation. It is also a great treatment for acne scars. This is a very popular treatment because of the great results we see!
10. Healthy skin care products
Be careful what you put on your skin! You absorb the chemicals in skin care products, so the general rule is: if you wouldn’t eat it, then you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Skin care products should be free of parabens, a hormone-disrupting chemical that is found in most personal care products including cosmetics, lotions, and shampoos. If the product contains “fragrance”, this typically contains phthalates, another hormone disruptor. Look for more natural choices.
We recommend Epionce skin care products. They are formulated to be free of parabens, sulfates, gluten and fragrance, and we love the results!
If you take care of the health of your body, you will be rewarded with healthy skin! If you want more information about how to get the beauty of healthy skin, we are pleased to offer a FREE skin consultation! Call 704-752-9346 to book yours today.
As always, living well is the best medicine!
Dr Deb Matthew