Looking after your skin
Your skin is an organ. In fact, it's the largest organ in your body. Your outermost skin layer, the epidermis , is your body's first line of defence against intruders, such as germs, and the elements. It shields the second layer of your skin, the dermis, which contains important structures like sweat glands and hair follicles.
The epidermis is thin, tough and waterproof. This protective shield works to help your body repel damaging bacteria and viruses. It contains several different types of cells, including a specialized kind called Langerhans' cells, which provide support for your immune system by fighting against these potentially harmful foreign substances.
The epidermis also protects you from the harmful rays of the sun. It contains another important type of cell called melanocytes, which produce the pigment melanin. When you get a tan, it's this pigment that turns your skin darker or causes freckles. Melanin's main function, however, is to block out the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, which can lead to cancer or other skin problems.
Proper skin care is not only about looking good, it's about staying healthy. Poor skin care habits can lead to rashes, sores, acne and wrinkles. Unhealthy skin is more susceptible to disease or infection. While it is important for us all to take steps, proper care is particularly important for those who have skin allergies or experience skin issues, such as psoriasis, lichen sclerosus, rosacea, or eczema.
A combination of good skin care and healthy lifestyle choices may help delay the natural aging process and prevent various skin problems. Taking simple measures can make a difference.
A healthy diet can help you look and feel your best. Try to ensure your diet is balanced so that it provides the vitamins and minerals your skin needs. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, and reduce unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates.
Uncontrolled stress can make your skin more sensitive. To encourage healthy skin, and a healthy state of mind, take steps to manage your stress. Set reasonable limits, scale back your to-do list and make time to do the things you enjoy.
Skin is constantly growing and changing, so you have to remain vigilant in caring for it. Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Unhealthy skin tends to appear sallow and dull. Wrinkles develop with more ease and sink deeper if your skin is dehydrated and unhealthy, and it can result in uneven patches that have a mottled colour. When skin is unhealthy it loses elasticity, which can make it sag and appear thin.
Protect yourself from the sun
A lifetime of sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other skin problems, as well as increase the risk of skin cancer. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. When you're outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you're swimming or perspiring. Wear protective clothing and avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
Smoking may make your skin look older and contribute to wrinkles. It depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to skin health and also damages collagen and elastin, the fibres that give your skin its strength and elasticity.
Treat your skin gently
Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time, and use warm, not hot, water. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on your skin. Skin needs moisture to survive. Avoid harsh or chemical-laden soaps and detergents, as they strip moisture and oil from your skin while polluting it. Instead, choose mild cleansers. Some moisturisers and creams may also contain harsh chemicals that effectively dry out your skin more. Opt for products such as Perrin’s Crème complete that are high in antioxidants and vitamins.
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