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September is Skincare Awareness Month!

Posted by Valerie Henderson on Sep 8th 2020

Our skin says a lot about us—it’s our most visible organ and can help us feel more youthful, attractive, and confident. But, like the rest of our body, it requires care and maintenance. The good news is that taking care of your skin doesn’t have to be complicated—simple changes in diet and lifestyle can yield big improvements. Diet, water, supplements, hygiene, and stress are all important to consider in skin care. Let’s take a look at each one.

Our skin says a lot about us—it’s our most visible organ and can help us feel more youthful, attractive, and confident. But, like the rest of our body, it requires care and maintenance.

The good news is that taking care of your skin doesn’t have to be complicated—simple changes in diet and lifestyle can yield big improvements. Diet, water, supplements, hygiene, and stress are all important to consider in skin care. Let’s take a look at each one.

1. Diet

A review of the relationship between diet and acne published in the Dermato-Endocrinology Journal finds a connection between nutrition and acne, though the relationship is hard to quantify. The review also notes that high-glycemic index foods may be associated with longer acne duration, whereas low-glycemic-index foods can be associated with reduced acne risk.

The glycemic index is a relative ranking of how a food containing carbs raises blood glucose. Foods high on the glycemic index include white bread, corn flakes, potatoes, and pretzels, among others. Legumes and lentils, along with most fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and carrots are low on the glycemic index.

People with type 1 and 2 diabetes can benefit from oral supplements designed to promote glycemic control.

2. Water

When you’re dehydrated, your blood gets thick due to your organs naturally pulling water from it. Your blood, in turn, pulls water from skin cells. This can cause your skin to look dry and wrinkled and your eyes to look darker and sunken.

A 2007 study found that drinking just 500 milliliters of water increases blood flow to the skin. You will easily reach this number if you drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Electrolyte drinks can also provide a quick hydration boost.

3. Supplementation

Vitamins, along with omega-3 fatty acids and collagen, are needed to support healthy skin. A 2015 review published in the journal Biomolecules & Therapeutics notes that “in addition to antioxidant properties, vitamin E could down-regulate features of skin inflammation . . . suggesting the use of vitamin E as an anti-inflammatory agent in skin.” But be careful of relying too much on vitamin E, especially because some people may have an allergic reaction to it.

Vitamin D is also important for skin, but the way you obtain it matters. Take vitamin D supplements instead of trying to obtain it through outdoor tanning or tanning beds.

Along with vitamins D and E, Vitamins A, B, C, and K play an important role in overall skin health, and if you don't maintain adequate levels, skin can suffer with more fragility, bruising, and dermatitis.

4. Hygiene habits

The way you wash and care for your skin is important. The American Academy of Dermatology has several tips to keep your face and skin looking healthy:

  • Apply lukewarm water and a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser with your fingertips; using a washcloth or sponge can irritate skin
  • Rinse with cool water and pat dry with a soft towel
  • Apply facial moisturizer if your skin is dry or itchy, and don't forget hand and body moisturizer!
  • Look for lotions containing ceramides, because these lipid molecules help maintain and restore skin barrier function, sealing moisture in
  • Perspiration irritates the skin, so wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating (but limit washing to twice a day)
  • If you are caregiving for a person who can't get in the shower, you can still ensure their skin stays healthy by using a no-rinse body wash

5. Stress relief

Under-eye bags, fine lines, and acne can all be heightened by stress. When you are stressed, the body releases many hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol triggers inflammation, which breaks down collagen—the protein that keeps skin firm, plump, and smooth—resulting in thin skin, fine lines, and dryness.

Relaxation techniques that can help you reduce cortisol levels include yoga, meditation, and breathing deeply. Deep breathing has also been found to improve posture levels, which are tied to cortisol levels, according to an article in Prevention.

Having written for companies ranging from MTV to the Olympics, Valerie Henderson spearheads Carewell's communications and PR efforts. A resident of Park City, Utah, Valerie enjoys four of the things her region is famous for: hiking, independent film, a house full of kids, and weak beer.

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