Thursday, January 3, 2019

You've Got Skin in the Game (All of It), Nine Ways to Keep It Looking Its Best

Sky Organics 100% Organic Unrefined Ivory Shea Butter is good for the entire body, including the face. During the winter, shea butter provides more moisture for normal and dry skin than lotion. Image from Sky Organics website.


true: If you look good, you feel good – at the very least, better. One thing we can do to achieve that feel-good feeling is to take care of ourselves, especially our skin. To ensure that it looks its best.

Offering pointers (nine) toward achieving that goal are a couple of experts from Houston’s top-ranked Department of Dermatology at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

“All the stresses and excesses of the holidays can leave your skin in bad shape, which makes you feel low, too,” asserts Megan Rogge, an assistant professor of dermatology. “The challenge is that at the start of a new year, we all want to look great. The good news is that with a little extra time and effort, or sometimes just breaking bad habits, you can change your skin condition for the better.”

The annmarie organic bamboo washcloth exfoliates as it cleanses and is naturally woven from a chemical-free blend of bamboo yarn and charcoal bamboo. Photo from annmarie website.

Drum roll, please ...

Stay calm, cool and collected because stress can cause and worsen skin problems. "Acne, psoriasis, eczema and certain types of hair loss all get worse when you’re feeling stressed," MR says. "Unfortunately, these are the four most common complaints of my patients. That’s why I recommend finding time to decompress. Practicing yoga or meditation is a good option, but even just doing breathing exercises can make a difference.”

In addition to adding unwanted pounds, what we eat can also adversely affect the look of our skin, McGovern medical school clinical dermatology professor Rajani Katta says.

"Your skin definitely feels the effects of your diet choices. I advise my patients to eat more foods rich in antioxidants, especially fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, since they've been shown to help combat the effects of free radicals, which take a toll on your skin."

RK, who speaks nationally about skin issues, also advises her patients to be monitor their sugar intake. “Too many sugar-laden coffee drinks, candies and desserts can elevate your blood sugar levels, which in turn can lead to collagen damage. This makes your skin less supple and more prone to ‘sugar sag.’ "

Water is essential to any health- or self-improvement regimen. Nuff said. Archive image.

Even during the winter, stick to wearing sunscreen. “Sunscreen," stresses MR, "should be an everyday essential. It’s often associated with being sticky and smelly, but most major skincare brands offer a daily version that is lighter and easier to apply. Even in winter, the sun’s rays can still emit damaging ultraviolet radiation."

She recommends a brand with at least an SPF of 30, "and placing it by your toothbrush so you don’t forget each morning.”

It is not necessarily eight glasses a day, but dependent on how much is injested through beverages and food as well as how much one sweats.

Says RK, "It's easy to become dehydrated in the winter. Unfortunately, beyond fatigue and other health effects, dehydration also accentuates fine lines and wrinkles."

Sometimes, it's a real struggle to take off your face after toiling all day, but it is essential and beneficial.

"Any buildup of dirt or oil in your skin can leave it looking flat. It can also block your pores, resulting in acne breakouts and irritations,” warns MR. “That means always removing makeup before you go to bed and doing regular cleansing, as well as exfoliation, to remove the top layer of dead skin. This will help keep your skin clear and shining bright.”

Bananas have myriad benefits, including promoting heart health and improving digestion. And they are delicious. Archive image.

When we get enough sleep, not only do we feel better, we look better. “Being sleep-deprived can increase those dreaded dark circles. Concealer can help hide the issue, but there’s no substitute for shut-eye,” RK asserts.

Further, she adds, not getting enough sleep slows the skin's healing process. “Researchers have studied the effects of poor sleep on the skin barrier. In one study, volunteers who reported poor sleep actually repaired their skin damage more slowly than those who reported good sleep."

The skin becomes dryer during the cold weather season. That is OK for oily or combination skin, and there are particular topical treatments for the latter. However, those with dry or normal skin should keep the skin moisturized with something that has more oomph than lotions, which tend to be water-logged, thus not conducive to good moisturizing, MR says.

Instead, "opt for thick creams to maximize results. Applying twice daily is normally sufficient, and you can help lock in moisture further by applying while your skin is still damp. This technique, called soak and smear, involves only patting dry your skin after stepping out of the shower before applying a moisturizer.”

During winter in particular, we spend more time indoors. The air quality in indoor spaces can be contaminated by smoke from cigarettes, cooking and other things. "While many of my patients recognize how harmful cigarette smoke is to the skin and therefore don’t smoke, some don't realize that secondhand smoke and pollution can also accelerate aging of the skin," says RK.

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
is good for all skin types. Photo from Drunk Elephant website.

"That's why it's so important to avoid these situations whenever possible, and to make sure you're eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods to help protect your skin from pollution and smoke-induced free radicals."

“Setting a routine morning and night is crucial because most skincare regimens give the best results when they are consistently followed,” MR says. “But if certain products aren’t working for you, don’t be afraid to try something new. To give your skin an extra boost, you might want to use Vitamin C and Vitamin E serums to strengthen its defenses and improve elasticity.”

Here, patience is a virtue, she says. “Although it’s natural to want a product to have an immediate impact, it usually takes six weeks to be able to assess its effectiveness and start noticing any significant difference. So before giving up too soon, try to give any changes to your routine a proper chance and you might be pleasantly surprised.”

In short, stick to the gameplan and the skin you're in is only mere weeks away from an improved appearance.

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