Did you know that our skin is our first line of defense when it comes to our immune system? It is our barrier from the outside world protecting our internal systems. The skin is also the largest organ of the body and works hard to protect us from harmful bacteria, viruses, and pollution and chemical substances that we encounter in the workplace and at home. Some other functions of the skin include regulating body temperature, maintaining fluid balance, controls moisture loss, recognizes pain sensations to alert us to danger, and protects us against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
There are many things that effect our skin's health including genetics, aging, hormones, some health conditions, and environment. There are some things we have no control over such as genetics, aging, and hormones. However we do have some control over certain health conditions and some environmental conditions. Feeding our bodies healthy nutritious foods and staying hydrated is not only beneficial for our internal health but also benefits our skin and brain health for overall well-being. Exercise improves blood flow which also benefits the health of our skin by improving blood flow, oxygen and nutrient supply to the skin. Of course we all know limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking are major factors. A little known fact is sleep improves skin. Chronic sleep deprivation is known to be linked with obesity, immune deficiency, diabetes, and cancer, but research has shown that sleep quality may also have a major impact on skin function and aging. During sleep our body enters repair mode and regenerates skin and produces new collagen, muscles, and blood and brain cells. And finally, managing stress levels. Stressors are a fact of life but how we respond to them and handle them play major roles in our health and skin conditions.
Stress can cause skin issues such as:
flaky, oily, or waxy patches on the scalp
& increases acne by 23% or more
And then there are environmental conditions....
Some environmental conditions such as air quality and water quality is not 100% controllable by each person. Our work and home may subject us to certain conditions that we also can not always control or avoid. However, the cleaning products we use in our home, the amount of UV exposure we allow ourselves to receive, and the products we use on our bodies are all within our control. So it's important to know what we are putting on our skin.
Keeping our skin hydrated improves skin health, however some moisturizers actually pull moisture out of the skin. Here are some tips from The American Academy of Dermatology on maintain hydrated skin:
Take one 5- to 10-minute shower or bath per day. Excessive washing can strip away the oily layer of the skin and dry it out.
Use warm water instead of hot water.
Minimize the use of harsh soaps. Use a gentle and fragrance-free cleanser.
Stay away from abrasive scrub brushes, bath sponges, and washcloths that can damage the skin’s surface.
Pat skin gently dry with a towel.
Moisturize immediately after washing. To trap in moisture, ointments, lotions, and creams need to be applied within minutes of drying off.
Use ointments or creams rather than lotions in order to minimize irritation.
Never scratch the skin. Cold compresses and moisturizers should help to control itching.
Wear non-irritating clothes. When wearing clothing made from wool or other rough materials, wear silk or cotton underneath.
Use hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
Avoid getting too close to fireplaces and other heat sources that can dry out skin.
Switch on a humidifier in the winter to replenish moisture in the skin’s top layer.
One of the most important things we can do for our own health and well-being for not only our skin but our overall health and wellness is to be aware of what we are putting in and on our bodies. Our skin absorbs what we put on it. Education is key. For more information on ingredients in cosmetics, skin, and selfcare products check out these resources:
Get the Facts
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