The skin, the human body’s largest organ, is our first line of defense against external harmful elements like pollution, harsh weather, and sun’s ultraviolet rays. Along with the kidney, the skin also helps get rid the body of toxins by producing sweat and sebum; the latter also helps protect the skin from bacterial and fungal infections, and prevents excessive water loss through the skin. What’s more, the skin also helps prevent further injury as it helps you react better to painful stimuli and thus avoid the source of that pain.
The skin performs all of these functions so well, it’s easy to think that it doesn’t need further protection. However, with all of these vital roles, it’s all the more important to always keep the skin healthy and protected. The healthier your skin is, the easier it will be able to perform these roles. The entire body will also function more smoothly when the skin doesn’t have to strain or push itself to do its “routine” tasks.
So how do you give your skin some extra level of protection? Here are a few tips.
Always Wear Sunscreen
You’ve probably heard this skin care tips a thousand times now, but it bears repeating. Always wear sunscreen whether it’s sunny or cloudy, and make sure it has an SPF of at least 30. Apply at least one ounce (use a standard shot glass to measure) of sunscreen, 15 to 30 minutes before you head outside so that the product has time to penetrate your skin. Your sunscreen should also be able to protect against UVA and UVB radiation — the former can cause premature skin aging, while the latter is responsible for most sunburns and also helps protect against skin cancer.
Remember that you should also use a lip balm or lipstick with SPF 30 or higher to protect your lips, as well as a separate sunscreen for your face. If you can, you should also use face makeup with SPF to boost sun protection. Korean skincare brand Missha, which focuses on skin protection, has a range of products like sunblock lotions, BB creams, and face powders with SPF 42 or higher.
Quit Smoking (or Don’t Start at All)
One of the primary culprits of old, tired-looking skin is smoking, since it narrows the blood vessels near the surface of the skin, resulting in reduced blood flow. The decreased blood flow also makes the skin look pale and lowers the amount of oxygen and nutrients that the skin receives, leading to overall poorer skin health. The toxins in cigarette smoke also damage collagen and elastin, which give the skin its natural elasticity and strength. Meanwhile, the facial motions that you make when smoking, such as pursing your lips and squinting your eyes, contribute to the premature development of wrinkles.
Stay Hydrated and Eat a Healthy Diet
Drinking enough water everyday is not only good for keeping your skin healthy and hydrated, it’s also good for your overall health. Water is always a safe choice for hydration, but you should also consider drinking fruit juices and teas that contain vitamins and antioxidants that keep your cells in tip-top shape.
You should also add more skin-friendly food to your diet, which include carrots and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, blueberries, fatty fish, and nuts like almonds and peanuts. Avoid too much sweets and refined carbohydrates, since some research suggests that these substances may help speed up skin aging.
Be Gentle with Your Skin
Human skin is made to be naturally tough, but that doesn’t mean that you should treat it without care. Be gentle with your skin, especially since daily routines like showering, shaving, and applying makeup can quickly take their toll if done carelessly.
For one, you should use warm water, not hot, when you shower or take a bath. The hot water can remove the skin’s natural protective oils. You should also use shaving cream before your shave and apply an after-shave lotion or gel afterwards to protect and lubricate your skin. Ditch old razors to avoid nicks and cuts, and shave in the direction the hair grows; going against the grain does result in a closer shave, but it also increases the risk of razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and skin irritation.
After a bath or shower, you should pat your skin dry, not rub it, to allow some moisture to remain on your skin. Rubbing your with a towel not only causes irritation, the rubbing motions will also cause your skin to lose its elasticity faster. Finally, you should always apply a moisturizer based on your skin type; consult a dermatologist if you don’t know or are in doubt what skin type you have.
Go on a Vacation
Another important component of keeping your skin healthy and protected is to manage your stress levels, since uncontrolled stress can actually make your skin more sensitive and prone to problems like acne. Get enough sleep, make use of those vacation credits, and always allocate some time to do the things you enjoy. You might be surprised at the difference that even one stress-free day can bring to your skin.
The skin does a remarkable job of protecting our bodies — don’t you think it’s about time we returned the favor?