Often, when people think about skin care, they only think about the face, but your skin covers your entire body! It forms an amazing protective barrier, serves multiple crucial functions in your health, and all of it deserves outstanding care.
However, the array of products available for skin care can lead to confusion. What kind of sunscreen is best? Do you need to use lotion everyday, and if so what kind? What in the world is hyaluronic acid and why would your skin need it?
At Houston Family Medical Doctor, Dr. Ranjit Grewel, wants to take the guesswork out of excellent skin care. Often, he and his staff see patients who come for walk-in medical problems who have skin issues, or people who have allergies who also have skin problems. Here, we offer some basic education about your skin, as well as five practical tips on caring for it.
Skin: the largest organ
Your skin serves as a barrier between the inside of your body and the world. It defends you against bacteria, viruses, along with other pathogens, and it prevents things like pollution and environmental chemicals from harming you.
Your skin also plays a role in regulating your body temperature and maintaining the appropriate fluid balance in your body. In addition to all of those functions, your skin processes sensation, such as pain or the feeling of a bug crawling on you, which alerts you to danger.
Some of the things that negatively affect your skin are outside your control. For example, you can’t stop time, and aging certainly impacts your skin. You can’t do anything about your genetics, hormones, or some chronic diseases.
However, you can make sure any unprotected exposure to the sun is limited, you can work on lowering your stress levels, consume a healthy diet, and improve your sleep hygiene. Even simple things like drinking enough water and washing yourself with at appropriate intervals with water that is not too hot can have a surprising and positive impact on the health of your skin.
1. Understand your skin type
As we mentioned, skin care products are confusing! But if you know what type of skin you have, you have more information to work with. The skin types include:
- Dry - flaky, scaly, rough
- Oily - often with large pores, greasy or shiny
- Combination - dry in some places, oily in others
- Sensitive - some products cause stinging, burning, or itching
- Normal - no sensitivity, clear, balanced skin
2. Keep it clean
Knowing your skin type makes choosing a good cleanser much easier. Using a foaming cleanser to get rid of the daily dirt, oil, and toxins that build up on your skin each day is a good option. Another is to use a cream cleanser, which can help moisturize your skin.
Adding a toner to your routine removes any debris that may remain after cleansing.
Moisturizers are designed to function in two ways. They hydrate the top layer of your skin and they seal in the moisture. Most moisturizers contain three important components:
- Humectants - attract moisture
- Occlusive compounds - help your skin retain moisture
- Emollients - to smooth the rough places between skin cells
4. Use sunscreen
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun hame your skin, and sunscreen protects it. Using sunscreen prevents sunburn and can help prevent damage such as wrinkles and dark spots.
Sunscreen can also lower your risk of developing skin cancer. Sunscreen works by either absorbing the UV rays, or by reflecting them away from your skin.
Use a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or greater. It blocks about 97% of the harmful UV rays. Even with sunscreen, you should seek the shade when possible because no sunscreen can prevent all UV rays.
5. Eat well and sleep enough
More veggies, more fruits, plenty of whole grains and lean proteins make your skin happy. Foods that contain trans fats, too much salt, or that are sugary aren’t great for your skin. Since your skin is an organ, it benefits from an overall healthy diet, like the rest of your body.
Finally, getting enough sleep, that’s 7-9 hours each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation, may help prevent premature signs of aging on your skin. It can also help your skin heal from the day-to-day stress it undergoes.
When you sleep, your body goes into “repair mode” when tissues, such as collagen which is vital to skin health, are regenerated. When you don’t get enough sleep, less regeneration happens.
If you have questions about skin care, schedule an appointment with Dr. Grewel. He’s always happy to discuss your specific issues and help you establish a routine that leads to the healthiest possible skin.