Six simple habits to keep your skin in great health
Skin is the largest organ of our body. In its most healthy state, it works hard to serve us. But when off balance, its functionality gets compromised. We have to therefore support it and take care of it so it can deliver on performing its protective role at best.
Your skin is a screen on which the story of your life is playing out. From baby soft skin in childhood to pimples in teenage to the natural glow of youth and the character lines when ageing, your skin reveals it all, both your age and health.
Skin performs multiple functions in the human body. The most important being that it houses our defenceless internal machinery allowing it to function with stability. It provides the body protection from external environment, viruses, bacteria, UV rays and other aerial toxins that it encounters. Skin also regulates the body temperature by dilating its blood vessels to lose excess heat and constricting them to retain heat when it’s cold outside. We sense pain, pleasure, touch and environmental conditions through it that ultimately cue the brain to respond in our favour.
Out of all possible factors that affect the state of optimal skin health, many may not be controllable such as age, genetics or some predisposed medical condition such as diabetes. However there are many things that one can do to support the skin’s ability to operate effectively and below is the list of some of those cornerstone habits -
Take a wholesome diet. This is paramount and a most essential complement to your skincare routine. Illness and ageing is a both internal and topical phenomenon so its maintenance also goes both ways. A few general rule of thumbs are to avoid trans-fats, take more anti-oxidant rich foods, keep smoking at bay and alcohol in check, reduce dependency on caffeine, eat enough vegetables and fruits, and not miss out on getting enough protein and essential vitamins and minerals.
Drink enough water. Our bodies are largely made of water so dehydrated or under-hydrated body tissues can be a root cause to multiple issues like muscle fatigue, low energy and dry skin to name a few. Water also acts as a flush and helps sweep away toxins from the body. While you can end up drinking too much water, that's rarely the case. The more common scenario is people thinking they are drinking enough water when in fact they are not. A clear or pale color urine is an easy sign that says you are drinking enough water. So keep an eye out and reach out for a glass of clean water every few hrs throughout the day.
Hold on to the moisture. The contrast between the water rich body and dry environment outside results in natural water loss through the skin. This phenomenon is known as TEWL (Trans-epidermal Water Loss). If there is an imbalance and skin starts losing too much water, it can show up as chronic dryness or itchiness. Dull skin, chapped lips and a rough texture with visible fine lines on elbows, hands and feet are easy telltale signs. The calves, hips and ankles may feel quite itchy too.
Here are a few tips to keep enough moisture in your body and skin -
- Take cool/cold showers more than warm/hot showers.
- A must must do is to switch to gentle cleansers and get over the addiction of squeaky clean feeling and chasing what I call as the foam myth. (The foam myth: If a product doesn’t produce enough foam, it is not cleaning effectively and hence is not a satisfactory product.)
- Have a good moisturising routine (incl. day and night) with active ingredients that provide 24x7 support. And don’t be afraid of products with oils. They can actually help in balancing the oil production and retain necessary moisture. Do cut down on excessive washing as that dries out the skin and disrupts its natural oil secretion balance. The skin will start producing excess oil to compensate or dry out. The key is to achieve a healthy natural balance with help from suitable skincare products as and if required.
- The skin is moist right after bathing and moisturiser should be applied within minutes to retain that moisture as it quickly dries off otherwise.
- If you live in a region with pretty dry weather for the larger part of the year, it would be a good idea to get a humidifier.
Put an alarm to go to bed. Yes, you read that right. When you are awake, you are likely to make a disciplined choice far more successfully than when you have just woken up and are groggy. It gives you way more control over how much you want to sleep and when you should wake up and getting enough sleep is quintessential to healthy living as is well know. Plus waking up with an alarm can disrupt an ongoing sleep cycle that can really impact how your waking hours turn out. The best way to wake up is to wake up naturally. Or with a gentle nudge at max. Next, I won’t suggest the 8 hr sleep standard, it’s an average at best. The number of hours should come from the biology and habits of an individual. Having said that, oversleeping and under-sleeping than what your body is asking for is going to be detrimental o’course. And most people often miss out on these signals unless sirens go off.
Manage stress. The first step to that is an acceptance and understanding of what stress means. Second is to have a belief and conviction that something can be done about it. Third step is to do it. Stress is invisible but it can create some very visible consequences in your body and life. It compromises the overall quality of your life from your internal well-being to physical appearance and interpersonal relationships. Some form of exercise, play or physical activity, taking out personal time, lessening screen time, increasing time spent in nature, meditation and mindful living are some of the techniques that can help with stress reduction.
Keep the cigarettes aside. Smoking is so-not-friendly to collagen and we all have read and heard enough now about how valuable collagen is from the derma specialists. So if that’s what it takes to preserve collagen, then, you know better now. Smoking also narrows down the blood vessels in the body. This reduced blood flow hampers the supply of essential nutrients and oxygen to cells leading to ageing and other irreversible damage to skin and hair.
Enough habits to remember for one article :D