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Five Things to Do Now: Save Your Skin Edition

Nov. 26, 2017 at midnight

Walk into any drugstore, and we can find hundreds of skincare products designed to turn back the clock. Some purport to tighten our skin and smoothen wrinkles, others to reduce puffiness. Dark circles under our eyes? There's a cream (or 10) for that. But true skincare begins well before slathering on topical solutions to the damage done, and these five proactive measures are an excellent first line of defense.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health states the basic case

"The fact is that skin is an organ, and just like any other part of the body. Your skin is made up of cells. And skin cells, like any other cell in the body, are made up of water. Without water, the organs will certainly not function properly or at their best. If your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling."

Still, it's not as simple as simply drinking more water. The school suggests pursuing a triple-barreled approach to hydration:

  • Apply a hydrating moisturizer within 2 minutes of leaving the bath or shower. The skin is still porous and is vulnerable to products that are applied following the bath or shower, allowing better absorption.
  • Apply a product containing hyaluronic acid before your moisturizer, such as Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel (available at Jeune Skin Care). Hyaluronic acid holds 1,000 times its weight in water, thus attracting water to the skin and holding it there.
  • Drink more water. Drinking at least eight glasses a day will help rid the body and skin of toxins. Everyone will not agree that water consumption will improve skin, but it certainly can't hurt. Many people often report that by increasing their water intake, their skin has a more radiant glow. Those who suffer from acne have reported the same results. Nothing will happen overnight, but even a good couple of weeks of increasing water intake should be enough for you to see how hydration affects your skin.

2. Avoid excess sun

The National Institute of Health is very clear about the risks of sun exposure:

"Too much exposure to UVB rays can lead to sunburn. UVA rays can travel more deeply into the skin than UVB rays, but both can affect your skin’s health. When UV rays enter skin cells, they upset delicate processes that affect the skin’s growth and appearance.

Over time, exposure to these rays can make the skin less elastic. Skin may even become thickened and leathery, wrinkled, or thinned like tissue paper. 'The more sun exposure you have, the earlier your skin ages,' says Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, a cancer prevention expert at NIH." The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the use of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher as cheap insurance against the long-term ravages of damage to the skin.

3. Eat antioxidant-rich foods

Lawrence E. Gibson on The Mayo Clinic advises eating the following antioxidant powerhouses for better skin health:

  • Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish
  • Nuts

4. Hands off!

Dr. Ava Shamba, author of Heal Your Skin and a Board-certified dermatologist, explains why it's so important to keep your hands away from your face. “Bacteria, viruses, and allergens transfer from fingertips onto the skin. Also, repeatedly rubbing the skin can do some real damage. Rubbing the eyes, for example, can actually create microscopic tears in the tissue (making the eye area look older faster), break the capillaries in the eyelids (causing little thread-like veins called telangiectasia) or break the capillaries under the eye (intensifying dark circles).”

5. Stop smoking

The Mayo Clinic explains, "Smoking makes your skin look older and contributes to wrinkles. Smoking narrows the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which decreases blood flow. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to skin health.

Smoking also damages collagen and elastin — the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity. Also, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — can contribute to wrinkles."

Prevention, not latter-day repair, is your most powerful ally toward lifelong skin health. Follow these five tips and you will stave off much of the damage others will spend half a lifetime (and a small fortune) trying to repair.



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