Your skin is the window to your body that reveals the stories of your life. From acne-breakouts during your teenage years to the radiant glow of pregnancy and the sunspots of aging, both your age and your health are reflected in your skin.
Skin has many functions, making it the ultimate multitasker of the human body. Its most important role is being the first line of defense between our bodies and the outside world, protecting us from bacteria, viruses, and pollution and chemical substances that we encounter in the workplace and at home.
Skin regulates body temperature, maintains fluid balance, and controls moisture loss. It also acts as a barrier and shock absorber, recognizes pain sensations to alert us to danger, and protects us against the sun’s harmful ultaviolet (UV) rays.
Many factors impact your skin. Genetics, aging, hormones, and conditions such as diabetes are internal factors that affect the skin. Some of these you cannot influence, but there are many external factors that you can.
External influencers such as unprotected sun exposure and washing too frequently or with water that is too hot can damage skin. An unhealthful diet, stress, a lack of sleep, not enough exercise, dehydration, smoking, and particular medications can all impact the skin’s ability to operate as an effective protective barrier.
1. Eat a healthful diet
There is a multibillion-dollar industry dedicated to products that keep your skin looking its best, and which claim to fight signs of aging. But moisturizers only go skin deep, and aging develops at a deeper, cellular level.
What you eat is as important as the products that you put on your skin. Your diet could improve your skin health from the inside out, so a clear complexion begins with eating a healthful diet.
Here are some foods that have been acknowledged by research as being skin-healthy.
Mangoes contain compounds with antioxidant properties. These compounds help to protect components of the skin, such as collagen.
Tomatoes have skin cancer-prevention benefits. One study in mice revealed that daily tomato consumption decreased the development of skin cancer tumors by 50 percent after UV light exposure.
Olive oil is associated with a lower risk of severe facial photoaging — that is, cumulative damage to the skin that includes wrinkles, dark spots, and discoloration, which result from long-term sunlight exposure.
Cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate may improve the structure and function of skin. Scientists discovered that cocoa flavanols decreased roughness and scaling on skin, increased skin hydration, and helped to support the skin’s defenses against damage from UV rays.
Green tea has been tied to many skin benefits. Compounds found in green teacalled polyphenols rejuvenate dying skin cells, which suggests that they may be useful for healing wounds or certain skin conditions.
It has shown promising results as a potential treatment for skin conditions such as psoriasis and dandruff. Patches of dry, flaky, and red skin often feature in these conditions — usually as a result of inflammation and the overproduction of skin cells. Green tea may slow down the production of skin cells and suppress inflammation.
2. Keep stress in check
Have you ever noticed that right before an important event, an unsightly pimple appears on your face? Well, scientists have identified some links between stress levels and skin problems.
In a study of college students, those who experienced high stress levels were more likely to experience skin issues such as:
flaky, oily, or waxy patches on the scalp
Other research showed that teenagers who reported high stress levels were 23 percent more likely to have severe acne.
The researchers suspect that stress increases the quantity of sebum, which is the oily substance that blocks pores. This, in turn, leads to greater acne severity.
Reducing your stress levels may lead to clearer skin. If you think that stress is having an impact on your skin, try stress reduction techniques such as tai chi, yoga, or meditation.
3. Quit smoking
Smoking ages facial skin and skin located in other body areas. Smoking narrows the blood vessels found in the outer layer of the skin, which reduces blood flow and exhausts the skin of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to remain healthy.
Collagen and elastin give the skin its strength and elasticity. Smoking may reduce the natural elasticity of the skin by causing the breakdown of collagen and reduction of collagen production.
Furthermore, the repetitive expressions that are made when smoking — such as pursing the lips — can contribute to wrinkles on the face.