From looking ghostly pale to blushing or glowing, your skin spills the story about what's going on inside your body. For some of us, healthy-looking skin comes easily and others struggle to see improvements. Sometimes, it's not so much what you're putting on your body but how we're living that impacts our skin.
Now, if we each listed all of the lifestyle indiscretions we have, we'll be here all night drinking whisky telling bad stories from different decades but you might find a morsel of value in making one or two adjustments to your daily regime, over and above using skincare. See, we're not just trying to sell you stuff. Well maybe a little.
1 - Keep your Pillowcase clean
OK hear us out, a recent poll of 3000 Brits found that 55% of people wash their bedsheets every week. That means the rest are washing their sheets fortnightly, monthly or even less often. You've seen the mattress advertisements, we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed so it's a natural place to start given your greasy head is drooling on the same pillow night after night. The build-up of sweat and grime from the 56 hours we spend each week with our heads on pillows adds up and can reapply a small amount of grime to your pores after you've probably just tried to remove before bed with toner.
Get around this by cleaning your sheets more frequently, purchasing an extra set of pillowcases to cycle through or having multiple pillows to rotate. You don't need a special pillowcase, unless you like gimmicks.
2 - Sleeping Beauty
This is easier said than done, we all lead stressful busy lives but maybe trying to get a few extra hours of shut-eye each week will make a visible difference for you. Sleep is the time your body repairs itself. Any gym rat worth his weight in protein powder knows that gains get made just as much in bed as they are made on the bench press. Maximise your body's rhythm for repairing skin and make a point of getting quality sleep to avoid the tired, dark circles that appear around your eyes in the short term and healthier looking skin in the long term.
3 - Eat a Balanced Diet
Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist for deeper understanding and ideas of what to include in your individual diet for healthy looking skin. But
What goes in, shows on the outside. For all of your skin cells to look their best, they need nutrients. Consuming a balanced diet, meeting your daily requirements of antioxidants/vitamins/minerals is key in making sure your body can go through as many of the metabolic processes it needs to create the substances that help with healthy skin and fight off any Free Radicals.
Free Radicals come from UV exposure, food, air pollution, smoke and plenty of other everyday sources. They aren't so rad though, free radicals are 'loose' chemicals with unbonded electrons that will only settle once they have neutralised their charge (If you were listening in High School Chemistry). Free radical compounds begin a chain reaction that causes cells to die or cease operating properly. This oxidation takes electrons from your body’s cells that results in damaged DNA, proteins and cell membranes.
When these cells are damaged, it accelerates the appearance of ageing and provides a foothold for over 200+ diseases. You can't avoid Free Radicals completely but you can be prepared in advance. Antioxidants interact safely with free radicals and help stop the chain reaction and limit cell damage. You can get them from many foods, though typically colourful fruit and vegetables are plentiful in antioxidants.
One key antioxidant is Vitamin C. It's a vital component in creating elastin and collagen - the protein that makes your skin look plump and youthful. It's also a huge component elsewhere in your body for joints and connective tissues. Collagen holds you together. Forget the collagen gummies, your body won't send that collagen to your skin just because that's where you want it to go. It might direct it towards another part of a body in greater need - like your joints.
Remember reading about Scurvy at school? It's a disease caused by the disruption of collagen production from lack of Vitamin C that results in the breakdown of connective tissue throughout the body. Back in the day, sailors spending months at sea would eat limes to stave off Scurvy because the vitamin C in limes enabled metabolic production of collagen. Your skin needs collagen to look great. Fuel your body with the right nutrients and it'll show, miss out on those nutrients and it'll show.
4 - Throw some shade, limit UV exposure.
We believe the amount of UVA exposure is the biggest factor in determining whether you're going to be a 60-year-old that looks like a 50-year-old or looks like a 70-year-old. The amount of UVB exposure determines your Level of Lobster.
Here's the uber summary:
The broad spectrum of UV rays is made up of 2 kinds: UVA and UVB. Sunburn is caused by shallower-penetrating UVB rays whereas wrinkles and cancer are mainly caused by deeper-penetrating UVA ray exposure.
SPF 50 protects from 98% of UV rays
SPF 30 protects from 97% of UV rays
SPF 15 protects from 93% of UV rays
Doesn't seem like much difference between the SPF levels? It certainly is across a lifetime and more so for those of us who work or play outdoors. During times of intense sun, cover up with hats, clothing (including wetsuits/rash tops) & enjoy the shade. Your best defence will be an SPF 50 Broad Spectrum sunscreen as well as the above. If you're blessed with more melanin, you've got a stronger filter, but UV rays from across the spectrum can still cause visible damage and lead to wrinkles and skin cancers. Protect yourself from UV rays and make it to 60 then be the 60-year-old that looks 50.
5 - Smoke Salmon, not Cigarettes
Smoking hampers the blood supply that delivers nutrients, antioxidants and oxygen that your skin needs. Wounds take longer to heal and they heal worse than non-smokers skin. Habitual lip pursing while you're taking a drag leads to signature wrinkle lines around smoker's mouths. But, the big one is the huge amount of free radicals that get pumped into your system that depletes Vitamin C resources that would usually go towards creating collagen.
Skip the darts if your skin is a priority.
6 - Go easy on the Alcohol, sailor
The ruddy faces of heavy drinkers are caused by broken capillaries in the skin. Alcohol is an inflammatory substance, opening blood vessels and bringing excess blood to the skin. Too much, too often will leave telltale redness on your skin. It also contributes to poor sleep - the period when your body does most of its repairs.
Moderation works. Cheers.
7- Inspect your skin
The faster you can identify serious issues, the better chance you can getting medical events such as melanomas and infections treated. Get regular mole check-ups. Look at yourself to look after your skin. Simple as that.
Bonus things to try
Drink plenty of water purely for the fact that if you're going to the effort of moisturising your skin on the outside, you should be giving your body the best chance and stay hydrated from the inside. Give your skin a fighting chance against drying out, especially in the summer.
We're trying Mama, we're trying.
A good sweat out each day may help clear your pores and increase blood flow and therefore the ability for nutrients to be transported around your body. Just make sure to wash off afterwards with something that's kind on your skin.
Do you do anything beyond skincare that helps your skin? Let us know in the comments below