15 Tips for Healthy Skin
The variety of skincare concerns mean there is no Holy Grail, a one-size-fits-all fix for perfect skin. However, there are some simple, holistic ways to look after our body, mind, and what we put on our skin, which helps with a glowing complexion. Small, consistent, daily habits can make a real difference to our skin health over time. Read on to find fifteen natural, non-invasive tips to help achieve radiant, happy skin.
1. Facial Massage
Nothing feels better at the end of a stressful day or the beginning of a new one than taking the time to practice the ritual of facial massage. Applying gentle pressure to encourage lymphatic drainage increases circulation, and the skin is encouraged to activate the detox process. This process helps with de-puffing and relieving tension. It's a relaxing ritual that can be practiced with the help of beauty tools or by practicing facial yoga. Each has a similar effect - muscles in the face are stimulated, helping to relax and rejuvenate skin tone. Add ice rolling to your morning ritual to energize your skin using gentle, upward strokes. Or keep your jade roller/gua sha in the fridge for an instant, cooling effect on contact. This may be particularly beneficial if you suffer from sensitized, inflamed skin.
As the building block of our skin, collagen and our ability to produce it play a vital role in our skin health and aging. We need collagen to keep skin elastic, but our ability to produce new collagen slows as we get older. Marine collagen provides the most bioavailable form for our bodies due to its small particle size and low molecule weight. It is absorbed up to 1.5 times faster than bovine collagen. Type 1 collagen is most commonly found in the body, and marine collagen consists almost entirely of this type. The amino acid component of marine collagen has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that scavenge free radicals to optimize our health. When choosing marine collagen, look for wild-caught sources to ensure a sustainable choice.
3. Sleep Hygiene
Beauty sleep isn't a myth. Your body repairs while it gets some shut-eye. This recovery is vital for your skin. To get the best nights' sleep possible, good sleep hygiene will show on your face. This means washing pillowcases regularly to kill bacteria, as they're easily absorbed by cotton. Sleep with a silk pillowcase if you can – they have fewer creases, meaningless creases to your skin. They also cause less friction, benefitting those with acne or sensitive skin. A silk eye mask will help moisturize the delicate, fragile skin around the eyes, keeping it soft. By blocking the light, a mask may minimize sleep disturbance, improving the quality of your sleep. For those who are dedicated, sleeping on your back is a great way to prevent sleep lines on your face and neck, as well as keeping the product you've applied on your face - instead of the pillowcase!
4. Oil Cleansing
The Korean beauty trend has become part of mainstream skincare. Oil cleansing is an effective, gentle, yet thorough make-up removal and skin cleansing technique suitable for all skin types. Choosing the right oil for your skin initially may require trial and error. However, some oils score higher on the comedogenic scale than others. For example, argan, castor, and almond have less pore-clogging potential than coconut (save that for moisturizing the body). Oil cleansing maintains the skin's pH while thoroughly cleaning without leaving a tight or dry feeling. It helps regulate oil production, binding to bad oils and gently lifting them away while preventing moisture loss. The great thing about such oils is you can make your blend at home, cutting down on packaging and potential nasties.
5. Mineral SPF
It goes without saying; daily SPF is a non-negotiable for healthy, protected skin. However, what is the most natural option? Enter mineral sunscreen Most contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to filter UV rays. Quite simply, mineral sunscreen sits on top of the skin - it's not absorbed into our bloodstream. Separately, chemical sunscreens contribute to the bleaching of coral and slowing its growth. By choosing a safer, organic sunscreen, you're not only picking the healthier option for your skin - you're kinder to the environment. Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offer instant sun protection. Don't forget to reapply between dips in the ocean or pool and at regular intervals throughout the day's sun exposure.
The mind-body-skin-gut connection has been gaining traction in recent years. We now know that modern Western lifestyles wreak havoc on our gut - sugar, processed food, antibiotics, steroids, fizzy drinks, and stress hormones, to name but a few culprits, can deplete the number of good bacteria in our intestines. As a line of defense against inflammation and pathogens and ensuring the absorption of nutrients into our blood, we can support our friendly flora with probiotic-rich foods and supplementation. By balancing our gut bacteria, we support the body's delicate balance and see those benefits on our skin. There are several topical probiotic brands; such products can help repair the skin barrier leading to less water loss and healthier skin.
Apart from an improved mood, light exercise helps the heart pump blood throughout the body faster to increase circulation. This faster blood flow can continue while you're at rest. Toxins and debris from cells are flushed from the bloodstream more efficiently, cleansing from the inside. Just thirty minutes of moderate exercise each day can prevent or even reverse signs of aging. A brisk walk, some yoga, stretching, or swimming is great ways to get your heart rate up without causing stress to the body while getting those skin-enhancing benefits.
8. Mindful Breathing
More and more studies show meditation can have a powerful effect on the body, not least in countering stress hormones can cause. Our breath is something we take for granted, yet it's the very foundation for our life. By tuning in with our breathing each day, we can find stillness, peace and help regulate our nervous system. This has a knock-on effect on our regulation of hormones, notably adrenaline and cortisol. By encouraging balance and connecting with ourselves, we slow down, becoming present. Not only is this beneficial to our skin and body as a whole when we feel less frazzled, but we are also more likely to take the time to practice morning and nighttime routine/rituals and carve time out of the day to check in with our feelings, what we're eating/drinking and how we look after our skin. There are apps and free resources on YouTube that can help integrate just 10 or 15 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, or whenever you need to find quiet balance during the day.
9. Limit Alcohol
Unfortunately, your favorite tipple can cause more than just a headache. It can wreak havoc on your skin, too. Due to the diuretic effect alcohol has on the body, excess water and salt are flushed out rapidly. Habitually drinking will lead to a state of chronic dry skin, not to mention dreaded puffiness and the redness caused by raising the level of inflammation. If you are indulging, make sure to take a break between drinks to rehydrate with water. Choose low sugar where possible - clear spirits with a low-calorie, natural sugar-free mixer or perhaps an organic, low sugar wine. Alcohol ages the skin due to its dehydrating effect, which can cause broken blood vessels and the acceleration of fine lines over time. By being mindful of what, when, and how much you drink or abstaining altogether, you can limit the unnecessary damage caused to the skin.
10. Vitamin C
Applying topical vitamin C has benefits backed by science and dermatologists. Vitamin C boosts collagen production, helping to maintain that all-important elasticity and keep skin firm. Vitamin C is tolerated by most skin types and has the added perks of enhanced UV protection, the ability to diminish redness, and the potential for skin brightening. We can get more vitamin C in our diet by eating foods rich in nutrients - notably citrus fruits, spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. Supplementing with vitamin C is another way to reap its benefits. In two separate studies, liposomal vitamin C was shown to have greater bioavailability, i.e., be more easily absorbed by the body, than regular vitamin C supplements – making those benefits to skin all the more potent.
11. Eat Your Water
Most of us know that drinking enough water daily (2 - 3 liters) is part of making sure we keep hydrated during the day and helping the body remove toxins. However, just as important is the water we eat, in the form of fruits and vegetables. These foods are rich in "structured water" that helps hydrate the body cells effectively due to their slower absorption. The water is surrounded by molecules that help hydrate and deliver antioxidants and fiber to the body. Cucumber, for example, is made up of 96% water. Hydrating from the inside out with high-water content, organic raw foods can be hugely beneficial for the skin before adding the minerals and vitamins these foods provide.
Sloughing away dead skin cells to help speed up collagen production is the basis for exfoliation. Thankfully, there are gentle methods to exfoliate, but they have the same effect - smoother skin, improved circulation, and unclogged pores. For optimal skin health, we should exfoliate 1/2 times per week. Exfoliants typically take two forms: a scrub or an acid. Lactic acid is organic and one of the mildest forms of AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid). Therefore it's generally safe for sensitive skins. For an at-home exfoliator, finely ground some organic oats and add honey or Greek yogurt with a carrier oil to make a natural scrub.
13. Nature's Retinol – Bakuchiol
Although an effective anti-aging product, Retinol is very harsh on the skin. Enter bakuchiol - a plant-derived alternative that's growing in popularity. A potent antioxidant, similarly to Retinol, it can help reduce the appearance of fine lines. Commonly used in Chinese medicine, bakuchiol triggers collagen production without irritation, dryness, or the inevitable sun sensitivity caused by Retinol. It can be used twice a day, and it's safe to use in combination with other skincare products in your routine.
14. Green Tea
Next time you find yourself reaching for another coffee, consider swapping to green tea instead - your skin will be grateful. The polyphenols, aka catechins, in green tea effectively reduce inflammation in the body. The most potent catechin in green tea, EGCG, is a powerful antioxidant compound that prevents damage to the skin's DNA from the sun's UV rays. The vitamin E in green tea helps keep the skin hydrated from within and supports the cell turnover process. Green tea can also be applied topically - the caffeine and tannins in the tea make the bags perfect for reducing puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. Matcha is particularly high in antioxidant properties, and the caffeine in matcha is released gradually, providing sustained alertness. It can be applied topically, too - mix matcha powder with some honey for a simple, cost-effective facemask.
15. Healthy Fats (Omega 3)
It's impossible to talk about skincare without looking at our diet. Consuming healthy fats, aka Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's), is a fundamental part of good skincare. The natural oil barrier of our skin is produced with the help of these powerhouses, smart fats found in walnuts, soy, salmon, mackerel, flax, and cooking oils. Our body cannot make EFA's by itself; we have to consume them – doing so with these healthy fats in proportion to a balanced, nutrient-dense diet is key for healthy, happy skin.
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