If watching Jessica Simpson talk about skin products on the television doesn’t quite do it for you, then you are reading the right article!
We are bombarded with mass amounts of skin advice, usually from non-medically based resources. It is often hard to discern what is inaccurate from that which is just plain ridiculous. We can become so overwhelmed and disoriented by misinformation that we end up spending $1500 on 200g of facial cream.
So here are a few medically-based facts for free.
Jack Frost – get lost
Winter is particularly harsh on our skin due to cold air, reduced humidity and abrasive furnaces.
As Aussies, we are trained to monitor our skin during the scorching summers, but to maintain a healthy, moist glow during the winter we need to start thinking like Europeans…but perhaps without the berets.
Fact: A lack of water, not oil or grease, causes dry skin.
Soak and seal your skin by applying your moisturiser while your skin is still damp after cleansing. While we tend to concentrate on our faces during winter (because bathers season is thankfully over), it is important to moisturise the whole body.
If you want to be proactive, ask your pharmacist for an over-the-counter ointment-based moisturiser.
If your skin is unusually dry, or appears cracked or flaking, pop down to your local GP to make sure it is not allergy related. Atopic dermatitis is easy to fix, so if you notice itching or redness, seek a professional opinion.
Free radicals are not just from the sixties
They are actually molecular structures with unpaired electrons, which are highly reactive, especially on our skin. You may notice that skin becomes irritated around cigarette smoke and pollution as a result of these little nasties. As skin ages its components oxidise from exposure to free radicals and therefore become weakened. As usual, as you get older, it gets worse.
Fact: Antioxidants can protect against free radicals.
Antioxidants are chemicals (the wonderful kind) that work to neutralise the effect of not only pollution and smoke, but also the sun, winter chill, wind, metabolism and even your emotions (unfortunately they are powerless against ex-partners).
Antioxidants actually ‘donate’ one of their electrons to the cell that was ripped off by the free radical. Because of their stability they won’t turn into free radicals themselves.
Get them in me now!
This is the easy part. A healthy diet is more than enough to give you back a healthy glow.
Medical and health professionals will attest that eating a balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and fish, enhances and maintains skin.
We’re not saints, so we can supplement a naughty diet weekend with some great skin-loving supplements.
Vitamin A is definitely a favourite. It not only protects against photo damage, but it also has a suppressing effect on oil producing glands, decreasing the event of acne. Vitamin A is responsible for the regeneration of skin cells and promotes the growth of collagen.
Inject some of the super-vitamin in your everyday mealtimes with green leafy vegetables and yellow fruits. Lemon tea with some honey and ginger is a perfect nightcap (without the whiskey, of course).
Vitamin B complex can also dramatically improve skin’s youthful appearance. Biotin is the most important B vitamin found in skin. For soothing properties, try Niacin.
Long have dietitians extolled the virtues of the humble banana, not only a power-pack of energy but also of Vitamin B. If you’re not into bananas try eggs, oatmeal and rice (but not all at the same time!)
Good old Vitamin C cannot be produced by the body but is wonderful for the skin, so make sure to eat plenty of greens and citrus fruits. And think ‘red’. Strawberries, tomatoes and bell peppers are sneaky sources of Vitamin C.
Vitamin E is a great addition to your everyday moisturiser and can be applied to the entire body this way. It is a powerful antioxidant and can be found in vegetable oils, peanuts, seeds such as sunflower, olives, broccoli, spinach and asparagus.
Vitamin E is also available from any supermarket, so you don’t need to purchase it over the phone with a credit card and a prayer!
Animal, vegetable or mineral?
Mineral! While red meat and sugary foods are not great skin-loving choices, there are a range of widely available minerals and nutrients to get stuck into.
Selenium, copper and zinc are inexpensive and very effective. Tuna salads are not only great for the waistline but tuna is full of selenium. Brussel sprouts are your less exciting option.
For those of us who are interested in the ‘whole shebang’ there is alpha-lipoic acid, dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), hyaluronic acid, and essential fatty acids (EFAs).
While many of us bolt for the hills when we now hear the word ‘fatty’, this is the good kind of fat, found in cold-water fish, including salmon, sardines and mackerel.
But most importantly, our skin is our largest organ, affected by our emotions and stresses just like the rest of our body. So during winter months, drink a lot of water (perhaps in the form of warm herbal teas) and relax your body.
Your skin will thank you for it by maintaining its natural beauty.