• Laura Chaparro, science journalist

    Tips for a healthy skin

    30 Jan

    Science shows that certain factors affecting healthy skin and a youthful appearance depend directly on our lifestyle. Some of these factors are using moisturizers, eating properly, not smoking, avoiding excessive exposure to the sun and minimizing stress.


    It is widely believed that your genes determine whether or not you’ll have healthy, youthful skin. This is indeed partly true, but it is also within our power to control much of what happens to our skin. A study of 186 pairs of genetically identical twins by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland (USA) demonstrates how the environment and lifestyle have markedly different effects on siblings over time. Thus, twins who smoked, who failed to protect their skin from the sun and who had experienced depressive episodes had more aged skin than their twins. You may or may not have a twin, but here are some simple tips to achieve healthy skin.


    1. Protect yourself from the sun: The sun may be the source of life but it also promotes the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes in unprotected skin and even increases the risk of skin cancer. Use a sunscreen with a high SPF daily the whole year round, not just in summer.


    2. Say goodbye to cigarettes: The skin of smokers is more aged looking and has more wrinkles than the skin of non-smokers. Smoking causes blood vessels in the superficial layers of skin to narrow, reducing blood flow and hence the supply of the nutrients and oxygen essential for good skin health. Smoking also damages the collagen and elastin that make skin firm. The repeated facial expressions made when smoking also contribute to wrinkles.


    3. Eat healthily: A diet rich in fruit and vegetables has a high content in antioxidants that help keep the skin healthy and hydrated, Avoid ‘miracle diets’ because, apart from the nutritional deficiencies, rapid weight loss and gain affects the skin’s elasticity.


    4. Sleep well: To recover the energy lost during the day, you need regular sleep over sufficiently long periods. Lack of sleep causes bags under the eyes and makes the face look pale and tired. Your sleeping position also affects the skin: if you sleep with your face resting on the pillow, you are likely to wake up with a few contact wrinkles.


    5. Moisturize the skin: Environmental factors reduce the skin's natural moisture, which has to be replaced using suitable products. The skin should be moisturized at least twice daily – morning and evening – and after showering. If you have oily skin, avoid oil-based creams. It is recommended not to use products containing alcohol.


    6. Treat the skin with care: Showers and baths in very hot water remove essential oils from the skin and alter its pH. Reduce both the water temperature and bathing time. If you use makeup, be sure to cleanse your skin before bed so the skin can regenerate. In the case of shaving, use a lotion beforehand and hydrate the skin afterwards. Allow the annoying pimples that occur in the skin to follow their course. Squeezing them only inflames the area and causes scars.


    7. Do physical exercise: Playing a sport or doing some form of exercise improves our physical condition and this is transmitted to the skin. Aerobic movements increase the circulation of oxygen in the body, which helps keep skin healthy and full of life.


    8. Manage stress: Uncontrolled stress can cause acne breakouts and other skin problems such as hives, eczema, warts and herpes. Exercise and meditation help lower stress levels.


    9. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean good: Compare the features and prices of tonics, cleansers and creams. Sometimes we’re mostly paying for the brand name. Choose products with a dual function, such as lip balm with sunscreen. It is not recommended to switch between several products or to change them every fortnight. Allow products time to work, as the effects are not immediate. However, do stop using a product if you notice redness or swelling in your skin.


    Time Magazine Health