The old saying ‘beauty is only skin deep’ emphasizes that physical beauty isn’t everything, and that our worth, identity, and health are about what’s on the inside, not the outside. When it comes to our skin, however, this old adage falls a bit short, because caring for our skin is part of how we care for both our insides and our outsides.
Protecting your skin is a critical component of overall health, wellbeing, and keeping your whole body in tip-top shape.
The Importance of Protecting Your Skin
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? Plus, it is your body’s first line of defense against harmful bacteria, germs, and the elements. Infections and illnesses typically show up on skin first, and healthy skin helps protect potential problems from worsening. Your skin also serves as a kind of bodily alarm system by letting you know when something is hurting you before it even registers in your brain!
It’s not all about protection, however. Skin turns sunlight into valuable vitamin D, which is needed to keep bones healthy and strong, and even contributes to mental wellness. According to the National Institute of Health’s News in Health column, keeping your skin healthy is paramount to your overall health and wellbeing.
How to Protect the Skin You’re In
Loving your skin is important, and these days a lot of emphasis is placed on skin-related positivity, a movement that reminds us that everyone’s skin colors, textures, and tones are beautiful. No matter what type of skin you have, you need to make sure you take good care of it so it can take good care of you.
Skin Care Tips from Dermatologists
Yes, an appropriate amount of sunlight is good for you and your skin. Be careful, though, because too much sun can lead to burns, dehydrated or damaged skin, blisters, skin cancers, and other health problems. It’s important to make sure to protect your skin from too much sun exposure, and here are some simple ways to do that:
- Wear sunscreen during the day, especially on your face where your skin is the most sensitive. Don’t forget your ears, the back of your next, and scalp where it’s exposed!
- Wear protective clothing and seek shade when possible.
- Consider using products containing antioxidants – they have sun-protection properties. These include products containing vitamins A, C, and E, niacinamide, and resveratrol, to name a few.
Get to know your skin. You should be more aware of how it should feel and look than anyone else, which means being aware of what your skin is like when it is healthy. Self-inspect your skin on a regular basis, so you have a better chance of noticing that something is changing. If something on your skin is bothering you, is bleeding, is developing a rash, or even if something just doesn’t seem right, see a dermatologist.
Adequately hydrated and moisturized skin can prevent a lot of skin harmful and bothersome skin conditions, and it also feels better! Be sure to keep your skin adequately moisturized and clean. Here are some things to consider:
- Use warm water to bathe your skin. Don’t make it too hot!
- Use cleansers that feel mild and gentle. If it burns, something’s not right, and the product may be too harsh for your skin. Avoid products with strong perfumes and fragrances.
- Do not scrub when washing your skin. Clean it gently instead, with a soft cloth or other gentle fabric or product.
- If your skin feels dry, use moisturizer. This is most effective immediately after bathing or showering when your pores are most open. It’s a good idea to moisturize every day. Use gentle moisturizers with no added scents for the best effects. Develop a routine time of day – like first thing in the morning or before you go to bed – to remember to moisturize daily.
Stress, especially prolonged stress can create vitamin deficiencies and can cause skin conditions, or worsen existing skin conditions. We can’t avoid stress entirely, but there are tools and skills you can use to keep stress at a minimum:
- Practice mindfulness exercises, like meditation and/or yoga. Learn to be present in the moment, and to let yourself feel your feelings without judgment or harshness. Even carving out 15 minutes of peaceful time for yourself every day can go a long way to reducing stress. This is most important when you feel like you don’t have time to do this.
- Consider your day-to-day life. If certain stressors keep coming up—such as a job that makes you unhappy or a certain relationship that makes you anxious—consider whether you should continue down this path or evaluate less stressful alternatives.
- Make self-care a priority in your life. This can take many forms, like regular (enjoyable) exercise, walks, putting down devices and curling up with a good book, nurturing hobbies and interests that bring you joy, and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people.
- Proper sleep hygiene – getting enough quality sleep – also helps reduce stress.
Eating healthy foods goes a long way towards protecting your skin. As the largest organ in your body, skin absorbs a lot of nutrients from the foods you eat. Focus on foods that have high nutritional content, and your skin with thank you!
- Drink water, and then drink more water. Staying hydrated is priority one when it comes to taking care of your skin.
- Fruits and vegetables are essential to healthy skin. If you’re not a big fan, try putting them in a soup, a smoothie, or sneaking them into your meals another way.
- Whole grains and lean proteins are also highly beneficial to your skin.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat, sodium, caffeine, and sugar, at least as much as you can. Foods that are less healthy should be consumed moderately.
Avoid (or Quit) Smoking
Avoid smoking. This is one of the worst things you can do to your skin, as it makes the blood vessels close to its surface narrower and skin doesn’t receive adequate blood flow, according to the Mayo Clinic. Smoking also damages the elastin and collagen your skin needs to stay strong, elastic, and healthy. Plus, smoking causes wrinkles! While this isn’t a health issue, it may be motivation to avoid smoking, or quit if you already smoke.
Avoiding Skin Cancer
Another reason you’ll want to avoid sun exposure is that it can lead to skin cancer. Tanning beds and sun lamps are terrible for skin, and it is important to minimize your exposure to these as much as possible.
Getting an annual skin cancer screening couldn’t be easier—it’s just a visual examination—and did you know it could save your life? Thanks to the American Academy of Dermatology, you can locate a free skin cancer screening in your area. Follow this link and enter your state and city to find a screening near you.
People focus more on sun protection during the summer months, but protecting your skin is something you should be doing all year round. Winter months are equally dangerous for your skin. Just because you aren’t hot it doesn’t mean your skin isn’t exposed! Wear sunscreen and sun protection all year round.
Proper Skin Care and Bowel Care
Skin care is whole body care. If you are treating your skin in a healthy way, your body will be healthier too.
Your bowels will thank you as well When a person is in a threatening situation, they may engage in a fight or flight response. The body goes on high alert, prioritizing all its resources to react to the situation. Functions that aren’t necessary for survival, such as digestion, are put on hold.. All the things that are healthy for the skin – particularly proper hydration, good nutrition, and reducing stress – are also ways of minimizing constipation.
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