Your skin is the largest organ in your body and one of the most complex. It’s hugely important for keeping you alive and healthy, but during your life it can face many challenges. There are more than 3000 known skin disorders, so you need to keep an eye out for problems.
To give you some pointers on how to maintain healthy skin, we consulted a number of dermatological sites and distilled their wisdom into these 10 tips. Hopefully you’re already doing some of them, but there could be two or three that you haven’t heard about.
This is the tip you were expecting. You’ve heard it many times before, however the fact that dermatologists almost always rank sunscreen as their number one tip is an indicator that it really, really matters. They say that using sunscreen every day before you leave the house is the closest thing to finding the fountain of youth. You might find that your BB cream or foundation has an SPF factor, but to be certain you’re protected it pays to use broad-spectrum protection as well. Always put sunscreen on top of moisturiser; not the other way around. And don’t forget your neck, décolletage and the backs of your hands – these areas of skin are often exposed to the elements, yet we tend to forget about protecting them.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs and general health, it’s bad for skin health. Smoking accelerates skin aging, causing it to lose elasticity and wrinkle up. This is particularly obvious around your mouth, which has to cope with the double insult of lip pursing as you take a drag on a cigarette. You can tell an older smoker by the vertical lines radiating from their lips. Smoking also exacerbates psoriasis and eczema.
Get regular skin cancer checks
Keep an eye on freckles and moles. If you notice that something’s changing or you develop a new mole or freckle that’s different from the others (the ugly duckling in the flock), go and see your GP. There are various forms of skin cancer and not all of them are dangerous, but it’s always smart to get an expert opinion.
Resist the urge to over-cleanse when you have a breakout
Acne isn’t just for teens. Adults can have acne in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. And when you have a breakout, it’s easy to overdo the treatment. However a gentle approach is often best. Using a gentle cleansing product that won’t upset your skin’s pH, like Okana Apple Juice Foaming Cleanser, wash your face first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Only cleanse during the day if you’ve had a sweaty workout. Whatever you do, avoid exfoliating when you have a breakout - it can make things way worse.
Keep stress under control
Stress can bring on flare-ups of psoriasis, eczema and rosacea, so making time to find your inner calm with yoga or meditation is a way to preserve your good looks. Even a simple after-dinner walk can send your stress packing, especially if you cancel out your anxious inner voices by listening to music, podcasts or audio books.
Don’t work out with a face full of makeup
Before you hit the gym or head out on a run, take a moment to remove your makeup. Sweat needs to get out of your pores. If it’s trapped beneath makeup, your pores become clogged and provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Working out in your war paint is just asking for blackheads or an acne breakout.
Clean your phone screen every day
Your phone is potentially the filthiest thing you own and it touches your skin every time you take a call. Get into the habit of cleaning your phone at least once a day. If it’s waterproof, a wet face cloth with a touch of soap will do the job nicely. If it’s not waterproof, use a tissue dampened with some glass cleaner.
Your lips are the canary in the coal mine
The term ‘a canary in a coal mine’ is about advanced warning of danger. Miners used to keep caged canaries with them while at work. Dangerous levels of lethal gases would kill the canary before the miners were affected. Gruesome but true. For you, the canary is your lips. When they start to feel dry, it’s time for heavy-duty facial moisturising. Dry lips are a sign that humidity levels have dropped.
Eat more fatty acids
Your skin needs omega-3 to make lipids, which keep it plump and youthful. Eat salmon, avocado and walnuts. For an extra boost, take a couple of fish oil capsules every day.
Less towelling for more moisture
If your skin is inclined to be dry, apply moisturisers when your skin is still moist from the shower. By not drying your skin completely, you have the opportunity to trap hydration with good quality emollients, like Okana Vegetable Day Moisturiser (for your face) and Okana Avocado Smash Body Butter (for the rest of you).