Back from another holiday weekend, you look into the mirror. All that fatty, oily, heavy food over the weekend. Going to sleep late, face unwashed. So stressed at work. Burnt by the sun. Yekh. The skin's not happy. And it shows.
What do you do?!
The skin's your largest organ, a reflection of the state of things inside your body and your mind. Your facial skin, especially, is a signal of your overall health. When you break out or otherwise are not taking good care of health, your face will show it.
Not all is lost. There are some lifestyle elements to change, but you can have good skin, even if you were not exactly born with it. Take it from someone who had acne issues all through teenage years and college. You learn to live a healthy lifestyle, tailor your skin regimen to what G-d gave you and tweak your diet, sleep schedule and the way you manage stress.
Here are some concrete steps to take to get your skin in working order and in better shape.
1) Wash your skin regularly (every night before bed and morning, upon awaking). Use a good glycolic cleanser that doesn't strip your skin of oil completely, cleans your pores and yet conditions skin. Use plenty of lukewarm water. Make sure the cleanser you use contains only conditioning natural ingredients (such as avocado or argan oil, shea butter, olive oil and aloe juice) and nothing to which you're allergic (more on that later). Good facial skin hygiene is critical to looking and feeling your best every day.
2) Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Avoid touching your face often, especially picking your acne. When you pick your acne, you invite bacteria, spread it around your face to other pores and make it more likely that further acne will appear. Keep your hands off and let your facial hygiene routine take care of the rest.
3) Get a good night's sleep, every night. Sleep clears out toxins from your body. If your sleep is of poor quality or quantity, your skin will suffer. Pores will get clogged and erupt. Toxins will collect and cause further damage.
4) Stay properly hydrated throughout the day. Drink water before meals and at least 30 minutes after, NOT during meals (this messes up digestion). Proper hydration ensures faster toxin removal, improves digestion (which also plays a role in skin health). Drink lukewarm water better than just cold. Add lemon juice and honey for a morning cleanse. Make it a habit.
5) Make it a habit to use sun screen of the SPF that's right for your skin color and type. Wear a hat when out in the sun for prolonged periods. Use common sense to prevent burning and apply pure aloe vera on your skin after sun exposure to counter the effects of burning and skin aging.
6) Avoid steroidal treatments for acne. Try elimination diet and natural remedies first. Put on a clay mask to dry out persistent cystic acne. Steroidal treatments are very commonly prescribed and yet are dangerous for their long-term effects, which include weight gain and others.
7) Eliminate allergens, both in food and your home and office. If you have persistent acne, do an elimination diet, where you eliminate the candidates for allergies for you - whether it's gluten, dairy, peanuts or whatever else. Once you figure out what's giving you digesting problems, it should also help clear up your skin. In terms of your environment at home and in the office, dust frequently and avoid other allergens that may be causing your skin to break out.
8) Don't eat junk that's too salty or too sweet, fatty, yeasty, spicy or oily. These are all strong candidates for causing acne. Just. Stay. Away.
9) Don't eat late and don't eat a heavy dinner. When you eat heavy food and/or eat late (after 7 PM), your digestive system will have to work harder beyond its night capacity (which is lower due to circadian rhythms and the day's fatigue), which means more toxins are released right before and during sleep, which will affect the quality of your sleep and may lead to skin problems. If you do eat heavy food and late in the evening, make sure to follow up with a cup of decaf tea to help digestion along.
10) Learn to manage your stress more effectively. Here is a detailed blog post on this subject.
11) Eliminate and neutralize the largest sources of inflammation and oxidation in your diet. Eat more anti-oxidants such as berries, green leafy vegetables, etc. Drink red wine to get your dose of phenols to fight oxidation and inflammation in your body from heavy food (see 8 above). Drink green tea after your meals for another anti-oxidant boost. Manage the damage from heavy or difficult-to-digest food in your digestive system, which results in heavy oxidation and inflammation. These two are the causes of many chronic diseases such as diabetes II and heart disease.
12) Sweat! Let your skin breathe! Whether through vigorous walking or exercise or even by eating spicy food, make sure to sweat regularly. Sweat helps release and eliminate toxins from the body and skin and to keep the pores clean.
13) Use lotion in the winter to stay hydrated, preferably one that's plant-based, not petroleum-based.
14) Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and veggies, yogurt for intestinal flora health (to maintain efficient digestion), fiber and a full range of food-based vitamins. A balanced diet is by far the most important factor in your skin's health.
15) Maintain good dental hygiene. When your teeth are in bad shape, it means your organism is not healthy. When you brush, floss and use mouthwash twice every day, you are well on the way to good dental health. A mouth with sores or open wounds lets in bacteria that endanger your skin health equally, as toxins get in the blood and circulate, causing serious problems Remember, all the functions of the body are connected to the skin.
16) if all other natural remedies fail, seek medical attention. It may be a sign of more serious medical problems in need of diagnosis and treatment.
The list above is not exhaustive, but addresses the main strategies for keeping your skin healthy.
Enjoy and here's to good skin health!
Do you have other strategies for healthy, happy skin? Please share them with the Community in Comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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Yuri Kruman is a Healthcare Product Manager, published author, blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com and health tech entrepreneur based in New York.
*The views expressed herein are his own*