Maintaining healthy, glowing skin does not happen overnight. But it’s entirely obtainable for anyone, you just need to start with small, intentional steps. The trick is, don't let it overwhelm you so you can stick with it. Everything you read here you can do at home, starting today. And, you can adapt to these habits at the speed you’re comfortable with.
Skin is our largest organ, and if you think of it as your ‘baby’, it’s easy to remember all the different components you can be doing to care for and keep your skin thriving. Keep in mind our skin has memory so any sun exposure you had in your younger years will surface years later on your skin.
Here are four foundational pillars for healthy skin:
You know that good hydration is essential to healthy skin. Water not only helps make your skin radiant, it also aids your digestion, boosts your metabolism and contributes to healthy brain function. There is no one size fits all formula for how much water you should drink. However, as a general rule of thumb according to the Mayo Clinic on average your fluid intake should be:
And by this I mean get good sleep. Sleep is essential to good skin and good health overall. It's how our bodies restore and repair and it's good for your brain. Here’s the basics.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends we get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Anything less than 7 hours increases our chances of developing a myriad of chronic health conditions. And according to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep.
It's hard to be consistent so try creating a routine to relax before bed time. Before going to bed, be sure to wash your face to remove any dirt or surface pollutants, moisturize your skin, and add an antioxidant for good measure. Many moisturizers contain antioxidants and vitamins at a variety of price points to fit your budget.
Remember they call it beauty sleep for a reason! From the NSF,
"During sleep, the body releases human growth hormone, a necessary ingredient for collagen production—the protein that gives people shiny hair, strong nails, and glowing skin. Skimping on sleep raises cortisol levels, which can interfere with collagen production."
Remember, your skin is your baby so feed it well. Let me preface this section by commenting that I’m a proponent of moderation. You can go crazy being rigid about what you put in to your body. I think it’s important to eat healthy while remembering to stay in balance and still enjoy your day. That is to say that my days of eating french fries and ice cream are far from over, but now happen on an infrequent basis. What I am suggesting if you’re serious about improving and maintaining the quality of your skin is to make small lifestyle changes at a pace you’re comfortable with. I have been changing my eating habits for many years and it’s not something I could ever do overnight. (But maybe you can.)
For those days when I indulge I take a multivitamin derived from whole foods. There’s no shame to make up your nutrient gaps with a good quality whole foods derived vitamin, but please don’t let it become an excuse to eat poorly.
Sweet Potatoes and Carrots are full of Beta-Carotene.
Brewed, fresh Green Tea contains Catechins which are anti-inflammatory and anti-aging, and antioxidant Polyphenols. Plus bonus, tea helps to speed up our metabolism.
Sunflower seeds, Nuts, Eggs, green leafy vegetables, Avocados, and whole grains are full of Vitamin E and Quercetin.
Avoid as much added sugar and processed food as possible. Full stop. There is now an incredible body of research that indicates sugar increases the rate at which we age. Sugar turns on the aging process and wreaks havoc on our metabolic health. It breaks down the collagen and other proteins that keep our skin elastic and firm. How could something so bad for you bring such joy? Few of us can go entirely without sugar in our lives so my rule is to be intentional and decisive when you do have it. Knowingly eat that sugar in your ice cream, or lovingly made cake or dessert. I choose to skip soda and juice and save my sugar for my daughter's baking creations. Moderate how much you have and when you eat it. And don’t let sugar sneak in to your diet through processed foods, which in addition to 'hidden' sugar is full of other stuff that’s bad for you and your skin.
It's worth mentioning that while there are good things in wine like Resveratrol, there is also a lot of sugar in alcohol. So if you get serious about pro-aging your skin well, you might want to double down on eating healthy and think about this one.
Good you're making the effort to be mindful of what you eat and drink and how much you sleep, yet do not underestimate the importance of sun protecting your skin. Protecting your largest organ is essential to keep your skin glowing - and to keep yourself healthy. Everyone at every age needs to be mindful of protecting their skin, and there are more than a few habits to cover in this area.Sunscreen.
Wearing sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30+ is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. This will help shield your skin from pollutants as well as ultraviolet radiation. The biggest challenges people have with wearing sunscreen is remembering to apply it, applying enough, and remembering to reapply it every two hours.
Much has been written about chemical vs. physical (mineral) sunscreen. There is a growing body of research about chemical sunscreen ingredients being absorbed in the body causing issues such as hormone disruption. Then there are the environmental impacts of increased chemical levels in the oceans damaging coral reefs and other living organisms. It is a lot to digest and is worthy of a separate blog post. I direct you to this website, https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/, and I will say this. Do your research, test, trial and error, and find a physical/mineral sunscreen that you like. It should shield you from both UVA and UVB rays so you're protecting your dermis at various levels from wrinkles, brown spots, sunburns and worse. Remember, the skin is the largest organ on our body so it makes sense to take care of it and find the cleanest, safest sunscreen you like - because it won’t do you any good if you don’t wear it regularly.
Look for sun protective clothing that is labeled and rated UPF 30+ or higher.
A UPF 50+ rating allows 1/50th of UV rays, thus blocking 98% of UV rays.
It's important to note there are quality differences in this category. The best sun protective clothing and accessories will be made of fibers woven with inherent, permanent sun protection qualities, and therefore its efficacy will not wear down when you wash it. As we say in the sun protection industry, "it's woven in the thread". Think about it, you will need to wash these garments and accessories regularly so fabric that’s only topically treated for sun protection won’t last long. And you’ll have to replace them often.
The sun protection clothing market has vastly improved with many attractive options out there for hiking, biking, swimming, the beach and other active sports. Newer in this space are brands dedicated to sun protection clothing and accessories suitable to wear every day with your street clothing or for special occasions. How many times have you been invited to an outdoor wedding or summer happy hour and wish you had something pretty to shield your skin? Now there are several brands like ours, HELIADES, dedicated to fill this need for fashionable, stylish and functional sun protective clothing and accessories.
It is essential to accept that UV exposure occurs year round. It is not a summer thing, not a beach thing, nor a vacation-only occurrence. You are exposed whether you’re driving in the car, on the mountain or watching on the sidelines regardless if the sun is shining. In fact, up to 80% of UV light passes through clouds so protecting your skin on cloudy days is a must.
We are exposed to UV on a frequent basis, often in a passive context. So adapting to protect your skin is essential to your overall skin health.
When it comes to protecting your skin, here’s a check list to optimize a healthy outcome.
Seek shade when possible.
This is a lot to digest, but you can do it. Whether you take small steps forward or go all in at once, try to make changes and create habits within each of these four fundamental areas. You will see it on your face and you will notice you feel different - better.
As always, stay in balance and be aware of moderation. Don’t be hard on yourself and keep a healthy perspective of the bigger picture. Because taking care of your skin is really about living healthy and taking care of your overall health.
Ready to give this a try? If so, what habits are you going to start with first? Drop me a line and share your thoughts! Email me here.
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