Do you look at yourself in the mirror and cringe? Do you hide away under a deep, wide-brimmed hat (and not because you’re protecting yourself from the sun)? Do you ever get jealous of someone you meet on the street because of their beautiful, flawless complexion?
You should know, you’re not stuck!
You’re stuck in your skin, but not with it.
You Can Make a Difference in Your Complexion
Dermatologist visits aren’t just for pre-cancerous lesion removals. Often, if you’re not happy with the way your skin is looking, there are things you can do to help. Many of them are simple enough that they merely involve some changes to your daily routine. You’ll be surprised at the results you can get by changing some of your habits just a bit!
Healthy Skin Starts With Healthy Insides
If you’re not drinking enough water, it’s no wonder you don’t look your best! Hydrated skin looks fuller, smoother, and healthier because it’s being plumped from within. Drinking water lowers the concentration of oil on your skin, so it could help to decrease acne breakouts.
Get plenty of sleep. Sleeping doesn’t just help your overall health, but it’s good for your skin, too. Your skin heals, repairs, and rejuvenates itself while you sleep. Board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, recommends getting at least seven to eight hours every night. Being sleep-deprived puts stress on the body, causing it to release more adrenaline and cortisol, which can trigger breakouts and other skin problems, says Barbara R. Reed, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, Denver.
Watch what you put in your mouth. Drinking milk can lead to more acne breakouts, possibly due to the natural hormones that are present, according to Leslie Baumann, a dermatologist in Miami Beach, Florida. Other foods that can damage your skin include carbohydrates, white flour, and sugars, as they may lead to acne, sagging, and premature aging. “Processed sugar glycates the collagen, which stiffens and ages it,” says Jaliman.
On the other hand, ingesting foods known to be high in antioxidants and other healthful ingredients can have huge beneficial effects for your skin. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Healthy fats from avocado, fish, nuts, and seeds
- Selenium from broccoli, eggs, fish, nuts, shellfish, and tomatoes
- Vitamin C from blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi, oranges, papaya, strawberries, and sweet potatoes
- Zinc from fish, lean red meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, shellfish, and whole grains
Add green tea to your list of must-dos. “If your complexion is red or blotchy, this tea’s anti-inflammatory properties can be soothing,” says Andrea Cambio, a dermatologist in Cape Coral, Florida. Some experts think that some components of green tea may help to prevent the collagen destruction that leads to wrinkles and sun-induced DNA damage in the skin.
Exercise every day. Exercise increases blood flow to your skin and helps to reduce stress.
Avoid environmental toxins and pollution. “Just being around smoke can lead to the release of free radicals that damage skin and hasten aging,” says Diane S. Berson, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City.
Skin Care For a Healthier Complexion
Choose your cleanser wisely. Elect to use a cleanser meant for your skin type. If you are looking to alleviate dryness, “a non-soap cleanser is ideal because it helps replace the moisture barrier in the skin,” advises Lisa Donofrio, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine. “Consider it a preventive approach,” adds Berson. “You can use your cleanser to avoid dryness, eczema, and psoriasis rather than just treating these issues when they flare up.” Dr. Jaliman recommends looking for a formula with glycerin and ceramides.
You should be cleansing your face twice daily to get rid of all the dust, dirt, grit, and oil that gets on your skin during the day, and the grime of your skin’s nightly renewal process. Sleeping with your makeup on is definitely a no-no. Use warm water instead of hot and rise with cool water. Washing too often can actually dry your face out, causing it to produce more oil to compensate, leading to more breakouts.
Follow that up by applying a facial toner and moisturizer. Toners help to re-balance your skin’s pH and tighten pores. Moisturizers help to hydrate your skin. Healthy hydrated skin looks and feels young and supple. Dry skin is unable to perform its natural process of shedding, so dead skin sits on top, leading to clogged pores and blemishes. Even oily-prone skin should be moisturized. Often, oily skin is the body’s cry for more moisture, and skipping out on a moisturizer can make breakouts worse.
Wearing sunscreen is an absolute must, even when you’re indoors! “It’s very important to apply it before you are exposed to the sun and to reapply it every two hours,” says Levine. Because windows obviously let sunlight in, and fluorescent bulbs and electronic devices emit UV rays, it’s crucial to protect your skin when indoors, too. Aside from skin cancers, “many people have more wrinkles and sun damage on the left sides of their faces, too,” notes Donofrio in reference to exposure to UV light in cars. “The UV rays damage your collagen and elastic tissue and cause wrinkles. People who wear sunscreen religiously tend to look much younger than their actual age,” explains Dr. Jaliman.