Tips to Support Healthy Skin: Level up Your Skin Care Routine
Time to read 8 min
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Time to read 8 min
The skin is the body's largest organ. We all yearn for that flawless, radiant-looking skin that exudes vitality. But achieving and maintaining the look and feel of healthy skin takes more than just hope; it's about understanding your skin's unique needs and following some insider tips. So, what exactly is healthy skin?
Skin does more for us than just keep the outside out and the inside in; it’s also an important regulator of heat, hydration, an indicator of optimal health, and the first line of defense against microbes, sharp objects, radiation, and other environmental stressors.
Healthy skin is your body's mirror, reflecting your internal health and well-being. Regardless of your skin issues or type, (dry, oily, combination, sensitive, or normal), the hallmarks of healthy skin remain the same: it's hydrated, smooth, blemish-free, firm, with an even color tone (no redness or sallowness), and devoid of hyperpigmentation spots. But how do you achieve and maintain this gold standard of flawless skin? Well, healthy lifestyle choices can help. Here are our top tips for healthy skin.
Aging is inevitable, but there are many ways that you can take care of your skin so you can maintain the appearance of a youthful and healthy glow. Let’s dive in.
Oxidative damage is one of the leading causes of premature skin aging, which may contribute to wrinkles, spots, skin cancer, or an uneven appearance. The most common sources of oxidative damage are:
These sources of damage cause alterations in the structural components that underlie the skin, like collagen and elastin. One of your best allies to protect your skin is some sunscreen (the Skin Cancer foundation recommends a SPF of 15 or above for daily use and SPF 30 or above when engaging in recreational activities at the beach or park, as well as outdoor work), which acts as a trusted guardian of your skin's youthful appearance.
Stress can wreak havoc on your skin, unleashing inflammation through the release of cortisol. We know cortisol causes inflammation, no matter the cause. Research has revealed, in a study of medical students during exam weeks, a significant uptake in acne breakouts. This may be from lack of sleep, stress feelings, or failure to perform regular skin care habits.
Sleep is an important regulator of cortisol. Sleep of fewer than 7 hours in duration increases the release of cortisol and decreases the release of melatonin, which is another crucial regulator in skin health. Too little sleep does not allow your skin to repair overnight. Lack of sleep impacts your skin’s barrier, hydration, elasticity, pores, visibility of blood vessels, brightness, and blood flow, which are all contributors to the overall health and appearance of your skin.
Getting your sweat on is more important for keeping your skin healthy than you may think. Exercise lowers our cortisol levels, boosts collagen production, and releases endorphins that help improve mood and decrease stress. Since stress creates inflammation, that reduction in cortisol is a significant factor in skin clarity and texture.
When you inevitably come into contact with sources of oxidation, antioxidants can help rid your body of free radicals, preventing them from causing oxidative damage. They can be applied topically but are most useful when taken as a supplement or as part of your regular diet. The most effective and well-researched vitamins for skin protection are vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and trace elements like copper and selenium. They provide a protective shield and help repair skin damage.
One way to tell if you’re dehydrated is by looking at if your skin is dry or flaky. Hydrated skin appears bouncy, full, and smooth. Proper hydration is the ultimate elixir for your skin. It not only keeps your skin looking plump and smooth but also supports various biological processes crucial for its health. Water is involved in the transportation of nutrients, volume of cells, thermoregulation, and nourishment of the cells themselves. Most dermatologists recommend 2L of water daily to moisturize dry skin and support proper skin function.
Many trace elements that support healthy skin are found in your diet, like selenium, copper, beta carotene, omega 3s, and other vitamins and minerals. Keeping a healthy and balanced diet will ensure that you have everything you need to look and feel your best. A multivitamin can be a handy sidekick if your food choices are not as diverse as they should be.
The gut microbiome could have a whole article devoted to its interactions with different bodily functions, from mental well-being to cardiovascular health. When it comes to your skin, the bacteria in your intestines can play a role in its appearance and cause certain skin conditions. A healthy gut microbiome can be achieved through a varied, natural, wholesome diet of essential vitamins and minerals and proper distribution of dietary components like protein, sugars, and fats. Too much sugar or fat in your diet can cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut, causing systemic inflammation.
Opt for unsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, found in foods like fish, olive oil, and nuts. Unsaturated fats break down into unsaturated fatty acids, which are used by the body for various functions. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are an important part of your diet and nervous system function. Fatty acids help to maintain the integrity of the skin’s protective barrier. This is the first line of defense from environmental stressors.
The unhealthy type fat typically falls under the description of “saturated” fats, like butter and red meat. In general, a high-fat diet should be avoided, and not just for its implications for the skin. A high-fat diet is linked to increased susceptibility of the skin to UV radiation and psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition.
Ensuring that you are consuming enough of key vitamins can be integral in preserving your skin health as you age. Some write-off the importance of vitamins, but vitamin deficiencies can have consequences. For example, if you are not taking in enough vitamin C in your diet, you can develop scurvy. Scurvy can thin the skin and inhibit wound healing, along with other negative symptoms such as bleeding gums or folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles). The vitamins that are important for skin health are;
Regulates gene expression in the skin that is related to skin aging and the conservation of matrix proteins like collagen, improving strength and elasticity.
Decrease inflammation and pigmentation.
Anti-oxidative capabilities and enhanced collagen synthesis.
The primary role of vitamin E in the skin is to prevent damage induced by free radicals and reactive oxygen species; therefore, the use of vitamin E in the prevention of UV-induced damage has been extensively studied.
A high-sugar diet has been experimentally shown to decrease the thickness of your skin, alter the function of integral skin proteins, and cause mild inflammation. The collagen that is supposed to give your skin structure undergoes a process of glycosylation due to high levels of glucose in the blood, which renders the collagen unable to be repaired by normal processes. Since a high-sugar diet creates additional inflammation, it can cause or exacerbate acne and other rashes.
Key words to look for in natural, healthy skin care products
There are a lot of active ingredients in skincare, and many prevent various skin problems. Let’s go over some of the most popular ingredients important for skin health and discuss what their primary and auxiliary actions are.
Your skin's health is influenced by numerous factors, and everyone's needs are unique. If you want clear skin fast, or help with concerns like red skin or dryness, consider looking beyond just skincare products. Nutrition, sleep, and lifestyle all play a vital role in the quest for glowing, healthy skin. Now that you're armed with these insider tips, you can make informed decisions about your skincare routine, either on your own or with the guidance of a dermatologist. Just remember to use sun protection!
1) Stay hydrated. 2) Maintain a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to keep your skin strong. 3) Avoid causes of oxidative stress (smoking, UV rays, stress). 4) Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an spf of at least 15 or wear protective clothing to protect skin from the sun. 5) Keep your skin clean and establish a personalized skin care routine.
That depends on your skin type and skin concerns, but it is best to evaluate your skin and try to give it what it is lacking, like moisture, exfoliation, or nutritional support.
Vitamins A, B, C, and E help maintain your skin’s structure and appearance.
Madeleine is a Medical Copywriter who was born in Upstate New York. She graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology in 2019. She is a digital nomad who travels full-time.
Felipe is a hardworking and self-motivated dermatologist with a great passion for skin diseases and therapeutics. He has experience in specialised clinical care, researching scientific literature, and writing scientific articles.