In my last blog, I focused on protecting your skin from sun damage. Blocking out UVA and UVB rays will go a long way to preserving your skin, but there are other lifestyle choices that have a huge impact on your skin.
My clients are sophisticated people and most are aware of how some of their choices affect their skin, but it’s always good to have reminders. I work in the beauty industry and I still struggle with some of the fundamentals like consistently getting a good night’s sleep and eating a skin-healthy diet.
Here are a few things that you can strive to do to take better care of your skin. You will find that when you make these positive lifestyle changes, you’re ultimately taking better care of your overall health.
Get enough sleep.
Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Being constantly connected to work, family and friends can have a downside, especially when it comes to getting enough sleep. A recent study done by Statistics Canada found that about one-third of those surveyed slept less than the recommended amount for optimal physical and mental health. It is recommended that adults from ages 18 to 64 should get seven to nine hours of sleep.
What happens to our skin when you don’t get enough sleep? For starters, your fatigued body goes into a mild state of fight or flight, producing stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Anyone who has issues with eczema or psoriasis knows exactly how those stress hormones can cause flare ups. Lack of sleep can cause dark circles under our eyes and dull, pale and dehydrated skin. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation can be so damaging that our body loses its ability to regulate free radicals—and that puts us at risk for disease.
Make sleep a priority for your skin and for your health. Keep your electronic devices out of your bedroom and try and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Eat a diet rich with antioxidants.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring substances that may mitigate the effects of free radicals on the cells in your body, including your skin. We are exposed to free radicals through harmful environmental factors, but we are also exposed through by-products of normal processes such as our bodies releasing digestive enzymes. Any time the oxidization process is disrupted, free radicals are created. Think of antioxidants as a way to fight the biological rust. Although there are number of good cosmetic products, such as Vitamin C-based products, retinoid creams and green tea serums, that are rich in antioxidants, it’s just as important to eat foods rich in antioxidants so our bodies can use them from the inside.
Now here’s some good news—dark chocolate is packed with organic compounds that act as antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavanols and catechins. So go ahead and indulge in a little bit of dark chocolate every day. Other powerful sources of antioxidants include green tea, goji berries, blueberries, red berries, nuts, red kidney beans and potatoes. That list is by no means comprehensive. I encourage you to do your own Google search to find foods you love that are rich in antioxidants. Herbs are also a source of antioxidants and sprinkling some cilantro on your dinner, for instance, can help you keep that biological rust at bay.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day—more if you’re into sports or activities that cause you to sweat. Hydrated skin looks fresh, radiant and firm. Something that may surprise you is that there is not a lot of scientific evidence that supports the claim that drinking plenty of water is beneficial to skin. That may because there is no monetary incentive to do such research.
But think of a juicy grape versus a raisin—the difference is hydration. Even though I can’t back up my claims with evidence-based science, I see a difference in the skin of clients who drink a lot of water and those who don’t. Water is essential to our bodies as oxygen. Your body is composed of approximately 60% water and we need to drink water to energize our muscles, transport nutrients, and help the kidneys flush out toxins. Drinking water won’t make your wrinkles disappear, but it will plump up your skin and make you look fresher. So bottoms up!