Everyone wants to have beautiful skin. It's a sign of youth and health. Your skin is also one of the first things that other people notice about you and skin subconsciously sends signals about your well being. That's why its important to treat your skin right. Here are some of the worst things you can do to your skin, just about guaranteeing that you will look older than your biological age.
Not Drinking Enough Water
We hear it all the time - but you need to stay hydrated. That doesn’t mean you need to down gallons a day, but it’s a good idea to get a drink or two every hour. When I worked in an office I kept a 32 ounce bottle at my desk and aimed to drink it by lunch. Then I would refill and drink another 32 ounces before I left work. Top that off with other fluids and you’re off to a great start when it comes to hydration. Just keep in mind if you drink a lot of coffee, eat meat, or exercise (which I sure hope you are) you need to up your water intake. Coffee and sports drinks don't count either because caffeine dehydrates you. When hydration levels become imbalanced you end up with puffy bags and circles under your eyes and more visible wrinkles. Over time dry and flaky skin will occur. Luckily, drinking more water is an easy and free fix for healthy skin.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
We all need time to recuperate, and if you go without enough sleep long enough your skin will start to show the signs of all those late nights. Sleep is the time in which your body releases growth hormone that helps the body recover from activity and repair tissues. Good sleep also keeps the stress hormone cortisol in check. When you lack sleep, the body's levels of cortisol rise which causes inflammatory effects such as itching, acne and psoriasis. Collagen and hyaluronic acid, the natural ingredients in healthy glowing skin, also breakdown. Set a bed time and stick to it. Stay away from cell phones and other bright lights before bed so you'll have an easier time falling asleep.
Absolutely the worst thing you can do to your skin. Smoking is bad at so many levels we can’t even go into it all here. Ever notice that 22 year old girls who smoke look 28? It’s rough. As time goes on it only gets worse. This is because smoking causes vascular constriction which prevents essential oxygen and blood from reaching the surface of the skin. Over time, this can also prevent wounds from healing, which leads to tissue death, and can cause blood clots to form. Smoker lines' are the fine lines that form around the mouth caused by the repeated inhaling on a cigarette. Smoking also accelerates the formation of crows feet around the eyes. This bad habit can even cause yellowing or graying of the skin. It's probably from the lack of blood flow, but who knows what the thousands of chemicals in a cigarettes are doing to your body? It's pretty obvious that smoking is a bad habit that wrecks havoc on your skin. The verdict is out on vaping, though some Yale researchers found evidence suggesting that vaping may lead to becoming a smoker later. Nicotine in any form is bad since it can interfere with memory and attention processing in a developing brain.
Just behind smoking is tanning. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent. Exposure to UV rays is what leads to skin cancer, which is why many people use spray tans and falsely believe there is no risk. Now, even the possible health effects of spray tans are being questioned due to the exposure to the many chemicals that give you that fake glow. DHA, which is the main ingredient in spray tans, has been labeled as safe for external use - but when spray tanning you also inhale the chemicals into the mucous membranes and absorb them through the skin. Though more research is needed, some researchers believe that DHA could be "mutagenic" and therefore capable of damaging DNA possibly leading to cancer and birth defects. Tanning absolutely destroys your skin over time. If you like being covered in freckles, wrinkles, loose skin and lines and creases – then tan away! Otherwise, give it up. If you must get a dose of sun every now and then at least combine it with some healthy exercise like a hike or bike ride. Just be sure to limit your exposure and wear lots of sun block.
Not Having a Skin Care Routine
Once you are drinking enough water, and avoiding damaging things like tanning and smoking, you want to have a good skin care routine. Good skin care doesn't have to be expensive. An inexpensive toner will remove dirt and build up that collects on the skin through the day. Keep all that moisture in with a good moisturizer. I personally use an inexpensive moisturizer cream that I get from a vitamin store that is vegan and chemical free. Skin care is just as important for men, which is why my boyfriend received a Jack Black gift set for Christmas (from me!) to make sure he is well taken care of as well. Another thing moisturizer does is help keep the bad stuff out! Cigarette smoke, exhaust….if you can keep just a fraction of the daily pollutants you are exposed to out of your pores – you’ll look much better in the years to come.
Brooke Bailey is a personal trainer, masseuse, and student in health and wellness.
She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Follow her on Facebook.