We’ve all heard the tips and tricks for keeping our skin healthy and young-looking. But, sometimes, what we choose NOT to do yields even greater benefits in our quest for healthy, beautiful skin.
For years, we’ve heard about the damage smoking can do to our bodies. Smokers are at a greater risk for heart disease, stroke, and of course, lung cancer. Even those who don’t smoke, but are exposed to second-hand smoke, are at a much greater risk for these diseases. People often forget that smoking can also damage your body’s largest organ – your skin. Smoke – whether first-hand or second-hand damages the cells within your body. And, as we all know, damage within the body often shows itself most clearly on your skin. Smoking ages the skin, causing wrinkles and thinning of the skin. In addition, it can cause your skin to become yellow. One of the best ways to age your skin (and the rest of your body) is to smoke. If you want to look (and feel) younger and healthier, DON’T SMOKE.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. Tanning is bad for you. A tan itself is a physical sign that your skin is damaged. A tan may initially give your skin a “youthful glow,” but each time you tan or burn your skin, you’re damaging it more and more. Damage from sun exposure or tanning beds causes the skin to wrinkle, and can lead to brown spots, or even skin cancer. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen when you’re out in the sun. And avoid the tanning beds.
Rough Up Your Skin
Yes, it may feel good to scrub your face. It may make you feel like you’re getting your skin cleaner than washing alone. But in reality, scrubbing your skin can irritate it, leading to more breakouts or other skin problems. Even facial scrubs and exfoliants should be used in moderation, based on your skin type.
And it’s not just scrubbing that can rough up your skin: “popping” and “picking” can also cause damage. Popping pimples or picking at scabs may seem like a good idea in the moment, but doing so can cause permanent scarring, or may exacerbate the condition that caused the pimple or the scab in the first place. Over-the-counter medications can help with both pimples and scabs.
Again, what is going on inside your body often manifests itself on your skin. An unhealthy diet can definitely show up on your skin, making it look dull or greasy, or bloated. And gaining (and then losing) weight can also have less-than-desirable effects on your skin. When you gain weight and your skin expands to accommodate that extra weight, you may experience some “smoothing out” of wrinkles. But, because the skin was stretched when you gained weight, the wrinkles may be more apparent after the weight is lost. Aim for a healthy diet, and manage your weight.
Stress Yourself Out
It is not a myth – stress has real physical implications on the body. Stressful situations can trigger flare-ups of acne or other skin conditions, such as psoriasis. Stress is a part of life, but you can do your skin a favor by avoiding it when you can.
Skimp on Shuteye
I am a huge proponent of sleep. Most of us mere mortals require between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. There are some people who manage to stay healthy and active on less, but the majority of people need that 7-9 hours. When we are sleep-deprived, even from one night of inadequate sleep, we can get dark circles (bags) under our eyes. And because our skin – like the rest of our body – uses our sleep time to rejuvenate itself, skimping on sleep is pretty much guaranteed to make our skin look dull and unhealthy. Inadequate sleep can even lead to acne flare-ups. So skip the 11 o’clock news, and get some quality sleep.
Skip the Self-Exam
We all need to be aware of what’s happening with our own bodies. We should know all the bumps, lumps, and discolorations on our skin. Why? So we can be aware if something changes. At the very least, we should all do a mirror check to make sure there are no new or suspicious-looking abnormalities on our skin. And if something does look out-of-the-ordinary, it should be checked out by a dermatologist as soon as possible.