Taking Care of Your Skin


Looking Your Best

We’d never trade experience for youth – but we’d all love to look refreshed and rejuvenated. And a change in our skin’s pigmentation can make us look more tired than we might like. Though it’s believed that about 30% of facial aging is genetic, the rest is caused by repetitive sunlight, smoking, your environment, and other hazards we’re exposed to.

A healthy lifestyle, dealing with stress in a positive way, and nutrition are all important factors in maintaining a youthful glow.

Avoid the damaging effects of the sun:

The effects of the sun can be very harmful and it is important to remember that sun rays occur year round. They penetrate windows and can reflect off metal, concrete, water, and snow.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays that affect the skin are composed of two different types of energy waves, UVA and UVB. When UV rays hit the skin, cells in the dermis produce melanin in the epidermis. This is the process that gives you a tan, which is really just your skin attempting to block the damaging radiation from penetrating your skin.

Check your skin often:

Look for changes in the size, shape, colour or feel of birthmarks, moles, and spots. If you find any changes that worry you, see a doctor as soon as possible. There are some helpful guides on how to examine your moles. One of these guidelines developed by dermatologists includes the ABCD rules. A for asymmetry, where one side of the mole is not the same as the other. B for border, where the edges are non-uniform, jagged or uneven. C for colour, where there are not uniform variety of colours such as black, blue, brown, and even the absence of colour. And finally D for diameter, where the lesion is larger than 5 to 6 mm in size. Most importantly, if the mole is changing, you should see your doctor. The general recommendations are to perform your own skin examination of the entire body, once every one to two months.

Avoid repetitive facial expressions:

Despite the fact that many people believe facial exercises improve muscle tone, they actually lead to fine lines and wrinkles. Facial exercises cannot improve depleted collagen, elastin, or the skin's fat layer, all of which contribute to static wrinkles. And muscle movement only makes dynamic wrinkles worse.

Adjust your sleeping position:

Although getting enough sleep is important for your complexion, there are even more things to consider when you’re sleeping. Resting your face on the pillow in the same way every night for years on end can lead to wrinkles or sleep lines. It can even change the underlying bone structure of the face, especially the cheeks, where the side that you sleep on could appear flatter.

Whatever you do, don't smoke:

After sun exposure, smoking is probably the single worst thing you can do for your skin and your looks – never mind your general health. Smoking causes biochemical changes in our bodies that accelerate aging and leads to wrinkles. It promotes the breakdown of collagen, creates free radicals which can damage the skin, and weakens your body’s ability to fight damage. So don’t do it! In addition to the damaging smoke, just the action of pursing the lips when inhaling and the squinting of eyes to keep out smoke may contribute to wrinkles. Repeated exposure to the heat from burning cigarettes may also damage facial skin over time.

Cleanse your skin gently:

Cleansing is an essential part of caring for your skin. The key is to treat your skin gently. Use warm water and limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin and dry out your skin. Limit your bath or shower time to several minutes.

Avoid strong soaps. Soaps that strip oil from your skin can leave your skin dry. Choose mild soaps with oils and emollients added (read the ingredients on the packaging carefully). Soaps also tend to be alkaline, upsetting the natural pH of the skin, which is normally slightly acidic. The truth is, the skin does not need to be vigorously cleaned.

Avoid irritating additives. If your skin is sensitive, avoid products containing perfumes or dyes (again, these will be listed under the ingredients on the packaging). These can irritate your skin and may trigger an allergic response.

Remove eye makeup carefully.

Use a soft sponge or cotton wool pads or balls and a good quality eye makeup remover to avoid damaging the delicate tissue around your eyes and try not to pull the skin. And always remember to remove makeup.

Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel and immediately moisturize to trap some of the moisture in the skin. Avoid drying with excessive pressure.

Moisturize regularly:

A good way to test if you need a body moisturizer is to wait 20 minutes after bathing. If your skin feels tight, you should apply a moisturizer. If your skin is very dry, you may want to begin to apply an oil, such as baby oil, after showering while your skin is still moist. Choose a moisturizer that is unfragranced.

Drink lots and lots of water:

Our bodies are almost two-thirds water. On average, the body loses 2.5 litres of water each day. Blood is 92% water, bones are 22% water, and muscles are 75% water. Our brain is 75% water.

As we age, our water balance changes, as do the signals that we use to control that balance. We tend to drink less as we get older and dehydrate ourselves without even knowing it. Because of an increase in fat, a decrease in muscle, and a diminishing ability for the body to regulate sodium and water balance, the body stores less water.

So, it’s even more important to stay hydrated as we get older. Some sources say you should drink five glasses, some say six to eight, and others say a minimum of eight glasses of water is what you should be drinking every day. It helps to keep a large bottle of water on your desk at work and try to remember to keep drinking. If your urine is pale, almost colourless, you are staying well hydrated. If your urine is straw coloured or darker, you’re not drinking enough water. Of course, it’s important not to over-hydrate, as this can cause such problems as heart failure, kidney problems, and leg swelling. Consult your doctor about your general health.

Remember, by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already experiencing the first stages of dehydration. An adequate intake of water helps the body's natural healing process and prevents toxins and chemical substances from accumulating.

Get plenty of sleep:

Guess what? Too little sleep makes you look and feel tired. One of the first places a lack of sleep shows up is on the face, with dark circles and bags under the eyes, and sagging skin. There is a theory that our skin does most of its regenerating work at night. But, some argue that in fact the skin repair and renewal is an ongoing process unrelated to sleep. Research has shown that most adults function best with eight to nine hours of sleep each night.