How to keep your skin healthy

Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin

We all know that using serums and lotions can help us achieve a glowing, healthy look, but what about getting back to the basics?

It’s good to start with a fresh base. Looking after your skin and making healthy lifestyle choices can help delay natural aging and prevent various skin problems. Get started with these five tips:

1. Protect yourself from the sun

One of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. Sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other skin problems — as well as increase the risk of skin cancer.

For the most complete sun protection:

  • Use sun cream DAILY - Use a broad-spectrum sun cream with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sun cream generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or excessively sweating. We know you've heard it a million times, but wearing SPF is the best way to prolong healthy, glowing skin. 

    When it comes to how to get flawless skin, know that a majority of wrinkles are from sun exposure. It’s so much easier to prevent the damage than it is to fix it afterwards. Also, don't forget to apply when you're in the the office or the car, as cell-damaging UVA rays can penetrate glass too.

    Look for a formula that offers broad-spectrum protection to guard against UVA rays (the ones that cause premature ageing) and UVB rays (one of the main causes of skin cancer).

  • Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.

  • Wear your sunglasses! It turns out they provide more protection against under-eye wrinkling and ageing than you'd think. While your eyes are equipped to handle sunlight, the area around them is comprised of the thinnest skin, where most of the signs of ageing are. Every time you squint from bright light, you're creating lines from that repeat movement. To keep wrinkles minimal, choose a pair of polarised glasses that's wide enough to fully cover the eye area.

2. Don't smoke

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 and makes skin paler. This also 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. In addition, 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.

3. Treat your skin gently

Daily cleansing and shaving can take a toll on your skin. To keep it gentle:

  • Limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time, and use warm — rather than hot — water.

  • Avoid strong soaps. Strong soaps and detergents can strip oil from your skin. Instead, choose mild cleansers.

  • Shave carefully. To protect and lubricate your skin, apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving. For the closest shave, use a clean, sharp razor. Shave in the direction the hair grows, not against it.

  • Keep your skin healthy when removing hair. Waxing and tweezing can cause scarring or spots, especially for those with darker skin. Prep your skin before hair removal by washing the area with an antibacterial wash.

  • Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on your skin.

  • Moisturise dry skin. If your skin is dry, use a moisturiser that fits your skin type. For daily use, consider a moisturiser that contains SPF.

4. Eat a healthy diet

  • Up your fruits. Research shows that Vitamin C-rich foods not only mop up the free radicals that cause wrinkles and sagging, but can help remove the DNA damage they form. While you're reaping the wound-healing and skin-protecting benefits of eating more Vitamin C, try smoothing some on your skin as well. A great place to start is with a Vitamin C-packed day cream.

  • Rethink dairy. Removing dairy from your diet may seem like a scary step, but according to some experts, if you're struggling to control persistent acne, it could well be worth a try. Dairy products – even those that are organic – contain cow hormones that stimulate your oil glands and your pores, which can lead to acne. And if you have to go there, stick to skimmed milk - the hormones are concentrated in the fat, so it's your best option.

  • Snack on mixed nuts. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, which can increase skin elasticity. Throw in walnuts—which are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids—to lower inflammation and help with breakouts. Finally, add some macadamias for glowing skin, as they are full of high quality oils and fatty acids that aid in skin repair and rejuvenation.

  • Eat watermelon. Adding a lycopene-rich food, such as watermelon, helps reduce damage and redness caused from sun exposure, thus preventing future wrinkling. Aim for one cup each day by tossing it in salads, salsas, and smoothies.

  • Hydrate. If you want to know how to get clear skin, this one's non-negotiable. Water helps clear the toxins that cause inflammation and blemishes. It also assists in transporting nutrients and oxygen to skin cells, and preventing dehydration, which can cause premature ageing. It can even make skin appear fuller since the hyaluronic acid that naturally exists in skin will pull in and hold the water for a wrinkle-plumping effect. We recommend at least eight glasses of water each day, more if you're active or live in a warm climate, for healthy, glowing skin.

5. Protect your skin from dirt

  • Clean your make up brushes. A study found that around 72% of women never wash their brushes or sponges, even though they collect dirt and bacteria which can cause breakouts – not what you want when you're trying to get better skin. 

    You should wash loose powder brushes every two to three weeks, and those used to apply foundation once a week. Mix a couple of drops of gentle facial cleanser or shampoo and lukewarm water in a cup, swish your brushes around, rinse with lukewarm water, pat dry, and lay flat to air dry.

  • Keep your phone clean. According to some studies, that phone you can't keep your hands off, can get more germ-infested than a toilet in a public bathroom. In fact, the glass touchscreens on mobile devices are so good at spreading viruses that sharing them may be almost as bad as sneezing in someone's face. 

    All those germs land right on your cheek and jawline every time you chat on the phone, causing spots and irritation. To keep your phone (and face) bacteria-free, pop a handy pack of anti-bac wipes in your bag to remind you to give it a clean.

  • Stop touching your face. Picking – even lightly – can permanently damage skin.

    Every time you ‘pop’ a spot, it causes inflammation and distress to the skin. At the same time, bacteria is pushed deep inside the pore, and the oil glands burst, causing even more trauma. The result?

    More spots, plus discolouration and scarring. If you're really hooked on popping, leave it to the pros and schedule regular monthly extractions with an aesthetician who knows how to do them safely and gently.

    And remember what we said about phones? The same applies to dirty fingers that touch computer keyboards or pick up dirt and pollution. So if you're a face toucher and seem to be getting spots in areas like your jaw, this could be the reason.

Georgina Head