Our skin is our body's largest organ. It requires care and attention to maintain a healthy glow and to remain soft and supple. Because our faces are most visible and are most exposed to the elements year-round, they require even more special consideration. But caring for your skin doesn't have to mean embarking on a beauty regimen that's impossible to adhere to. Simply incorporate these easy steps into your everyday routine and you'll see the results!
1. Drink water
Since our bodies are made up mostly of water, it makes good sense that we need to rehydrate frequently and replenish our fluid levels. Drinking lots of water helps to moisturize skin from the inside out and improves skin's elasticity and suppleness.
2. Maintain a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet is important for many obvious reasons, but a well-balanced food plan can also improve the look and tone of your skin. Both vitamin A and E (which are also common in many topical skin creams) are believed to promote good-looking, healthy skin. High levels of vitamin A are found in foods such as carrots, broccoli, kale and sweet potatoes. Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts.
And then there's eating a diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. According to beauty expert Paula Begoun, author of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, “there is current (though limited) research showing that eating foods or taking supplements high in antioxidants and fish oils (omega-3) but low in saturated fats, trans fatty acids and sugars, can have a positive impact on reducing sun damage, improving healthy skin cell function and building collagen."
The first step in any skin-care regimen is to find a gentle cleanser that doesn't cause skin irritation. According to Begoun, “gently cleansing the face and avoiding harsh cleansers or bar cleansers is crucial for the basis of good skin care."
And, she adds, wash your face with tepid or lukewarm water. “Hot or cold water will irritate the skin, and irritation causes skin problems, not the least of which is the breakdown of collagen," she says.
Moisturizing is a key step in your skin-care routine -- it will restore lost moisture and hydrate your skin, leaving it looking healthy, especially as you age. According to Dr. Audrey Kunin, a Missouri-based dermatologist and president of DermaDoctor.com, skin must be well hydrated at all times.
“If one needs the moisture and it isn't available skin can break down, become rough, inflamed, itchy or painful,” she says. “It may also provide access to bacteria which can cause skin infections."
For these reasons, selecting a good moisturizer will have long-term benefits for your skin. While moisturizers don't actually replace lost moisture in the skin, they will prevent the skin's natural moisture from evaporating by creating a barrier between the skin and the air.
5. Sun protection
Particularly as we head into the warm-weather months, sun protection becomes an increasing concern, though it's one we should be aware of year-round.
“Sun protection is the best thing you can do for your skin," says Dr. Kunin. “Not only does it help with the obvious -- reducing sun damage which in turn is responsible for the formation of skin cancer -- it helps keep skin looking healthier and more youthful as well."
Dr. Kunin also offers these tips for protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun:
• Reapply sunscreen every two hours while outdoors and reapply after swimming. There is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. They all ultimately require reapplication.
• Try to sit in the shade when outdoors. Shade trees with heavy foliage can reduce the amount of UV rays that reach the ground.
• Try to stay indoors between the hours of noon and 3 p.m., when the sun is at its peak.
• Wear UV-coated sunglasses; melanoma can form at the back of the eyes. Make sure children are well protected from the sun. Sunburns before the age of 10 are most dangerous later in life for forming melanoma.
• A wide-brimmed hat (4-inch brim) can also help reduce the amount of sun
reaching scalp, ears and face.
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