Your Guide to Healthy Skin

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With healthy skin month upon us, we want to share some tips about how to keep your skin healthy and happy, even when the winter weather leaves us feeling drab! There are many easy routines that make your skin brighter, more glowing, and all around healthier, even if you can’t afford expensive facials or regular trips to the dermatologist.

Apply SPF
Any dermatologist will tell you that wearing SPF regularly is an absolute must for life long skin health. It doesn’t matter if you are inside or outside, if it is sunny or cloudy, summer or winter, SPF needs to be applied every day! This is because you are exposed to the sun when you are driving, when it is cloudy, and even while sitting by a window. Exposure to UVA and UVB rays from the sun increases your risk of skin cancer. Just ten minutes of sun exposure a day does more damage to your skin than your body can repair in twenty-four hours. Cosmetically, sun exposure may give you a temporary tan, but long term causes dark spots, wrinkles, unevenness and loss of skin firmness. SPF helps to prevent this by blocking out the damaging rays. You can still get some color while wearing SPF, but much more safely. Look for 30+ SPF in your daily moisturizer and makeup, if you wear it. There is no harm in layering! Don’t forget your neck, chest, ears, and the backs of your hands too.

Cleanse, Tone and Moisturize
It may seem obvious, but you must cleanse and moisturize your face twice a day. Leaving dirt, makeup, sweat, or oil on your skin clogs your pores. Most dermatologists recommend a gentle cleanser, but consider your skin type and environment to find what works for you. If you have oily skin or acne you might want something a little stronger, but remember that stripping oil too much actually causes your skin to overproduce to make up for the deficit, making the problem worse. If you live in a less humid environment, a richer cleanser might help prevent dryness.

Toning after cleansing at least once a day can help to brighten the skin, and remove any residue accidentally left over after cleansing. Rose water and witch hazel are two relatively inexpensive toning options. Apply to a cotton pad and gently wipe around the face, avoiding the eye area.

In general, look for skin products that don’t contain alcohol, which only further dries and ages the skin. Drying your skin out will disturb the natural balance of the tissue, eventually causing a loss in skin plumpness and elasticity. This is just one reason why moisturizing is so important.

Moisturizing helps to keep skin cells plump and healthy, and is important for all skin types. Look for moisturizers that contain ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Ceramides form a protective layer that plumps the skin, while hyaluronic acid is connected to cell renewal and skin elasticity.

Exfoliate Occasionally
Exfoliating refers to the process of sloughing off dead skin cells. This is important for healthy skin because cell renewal tends to decrease as we age, causing dullness and clogged skin. This means that we have to give our skin an occasional boost by removing the build up. Exfoliating once a week, either manually with a scrub, or by applying creams with chemical exfoliants like Retinol, helps to prevent dull, rough looking skin. Keep an eye out for products containing fruit enzymes, like pineapple or papaya. Eating these fruits can also help with skin radiance.

There are many easy routines that make your skin brighter, more glowing, and all around healthier, even if you can’t afford expensive facials or regular trips to the dermatologist.

Exercise Regularly
It’s no secret that regular exercise does wonders for your health. While cardiovascular activity three to five times a week improves heart health, it also boosts circulation and oxygen intake. It decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, by producing endorphins. All of these benefits are great for your skin, too! Cortisol breaks down collagen over time, causing wrinkles and an appearance of aging skin. By decreasing cortisol through exercise, you are creating younger looking skin long term. With your blood pumping and more oxygen traveling to your cells, your skin will regenerate more quickly, and get a healthy glow. Weight training is also beneficial for your health, improving muscle mass and helping to maintain bone density as we age. Lifting weights a few times a week can help to balance hormonal levels, and improve skin elasticity as we gain muscle.

The key to exercise and skin health is moderation—too many high intensity, very sweaty workouts could cause acne or aggravated skin. Be sure to cleanse your skin using a gentle cleanser after you exercise to avoid clogged pores. If you notice acne getting worse, consider adjusting your exercise plan to a more moderate intensity.

Diet—Eat Your Vegetables and Healthy Fats
Just like regular exercise, a healthy diet has many health benefits. Try to regularly consume a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein. In particular, dark leafy greens can help to reduce inflammation, which has a tendency to show up in the skin. The high fiber content of some vegetables can improve digestion, and eliminating toxins from the body tends to improve the radiance of your skin and reduce imperfections. Healthy fats, in particular Omega 3s, help to produce plump, healthy skin. To increase your intake of Omega 3s, consume fresh, cold-water fish like salmon, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Biotin is also an important nutrient for skin and hair, and can be found in fish, avocado, almonds, and eggs, among other foods. Both Omega 3s and biotin can be taken in supplement form as well.

Give Yourself an At-Home Facial!
Don’t have the time or budget for a professional facial? That’s okay! You can give yourself a facial using natural, easy-to-find ingredients. A facial every six to eight weeks can improve the overall appearance of your skin by de-clogging, boosting circulation, and shrinking pores. Begin by cleansing and toning the skin with your regular products. To open pores, either get in the shower with the door closed, or heat up some water on the stove and drape a towel over your head to trap the steam for a few minutes. Then apply a clay mask, which can typically be found at an affordable price at natural food stores, or make your own mask. Whipped egg whites are known for tightening the pores, while mashed strawberries can be applied over the face to tone and reduce oil. Let your mask sit for 10–20 minutes, or until the skin feels tight. Remove with warm water. Consider using a gentle exfoliating scrub if your skin is not too sensitive. If you don’t have one, you can make one using half a cup of sugar mixed with half a cup of coconut oil. Gently cleanse again if it leaves your skin oily, and apply your favorite moisturizer. Take extra care to massage your skin for three to five minutes, thereby increasing circulation.

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