Your board-certified dermatologists at Skin Associates of South Florida specialize in enhancing your skin’s natural beauty, correcting imperfections and expertly repairing damage to your skin.Often, however, we see patients who, with a few simple guidelines, could prevent some of the damage before it starts.
Here are 10 things to avoid if you want to keep your skin in prime condition.
1. Sun exposure
In addition to the risk of skin cancer, the sun damages the top layer of skin (epidermis) with each exposure. Researchers estimate that exposure to sunlight’s UVA and UVB rays counts for 90% of the symptoms of skin aging. Over time, this damage adds up, resulting in wrinkles, age spots, and visible redness. Another effect of sun exposure is it can cause people to frown or squint against the harsh light, resulting in wrinkles between the eyebrows and around the eyes. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 whenever you’re out in the sun, and don’t forget your sunglasses!
If you smoke (or use e-cigarettes), the nicotine narrows the tiny capillaries that bring blood to the surface of the skin, inhibiting the renewal of cells and the removal of toxins. It also releases an enzyme that breaks down the vital collagen and elastin you need to keep your skin looking young. And of course cigarette smoke itself is full of hundreds of toxins that end up circulating in your bloodstream. Smoking is also well-known to inhibit skin wound healing responses.
Stress is bad for every part of your body, but its damage shows up readily on your skin. Patients routinely tell us that their eczema, dandruff and other conditions flare with stress. Conversely, numerous studies have shown that those who practice meditation or any other form of deep relaxation heal faster. Slow, deep, belly breathing facilitates the removal of waste through the lymphatic system. Also, the increased circulation of blood promotes cell turnover and encourages the formation of collagen and elastin needed to minimize wrinkles.
4. Poor nutrition
Fats, refined flour, and highly processed foods can all irritate skin, cause breakouts, as well as break down the elastin and collagen you need to keep your skin looking younger. Try to eat the recommended five fruits and vegetables a day. In addition, focus on foods like salmon, avocados, walnuts, olive oil, and flaxseeds that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which not only nourish skin but serve to plump it up, thus reducing wrinkles. A good rule of thumb is to avoid most things white in color – breads, pastas, sugar, white potatoes. Instead, opt for colorful choices found in the periphery of the grocery store.
Sugar gets its own category because it not only causes as much damage to the cardiovascular system (and, consequently, to the skin) as smoking and fatty foods, but also because it causes a process known as glycation which damages collagen, the substance that supports skin and prevents wrinkles. In other words, sugar actually attaches to our collagen, makes it crispy instead of supple, and leads to a dry, cracked, sagging and aged complexion.
Excessive alcohol can dry the skin, because it acts as a diuretic, pulling water from your body. It can also inflame the skin surface, causing the capillary expansion that confers a ruddy-looking complexion and worsening rosacea. Remember: Anything you put into your body will show up on your skin. The only exception to this rule MIGHT be red wine in moderation, due to its antioxidant and resveratrol content. But the beer and spirits are best left for special occasions.
7. Lack of sleep
Inadequate sleep produces excess cortisol, a hormone that hinders the ability of skin cells to renew themselves. Seven to eight hours of sleep each night is optimal.
8. Sleeping position
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warns that sleeping on your side or stomach every night—as with frequent frowning—causes permanent wrinkles on your cheeks, chin, and chest. The AAD recommends sleeping on your back if possible, though quality sleep is more important than no sleep.
9. Lack of exercise
Exercise bathes the skin with oxygen-rich blood, facilitating the turnover of old skin cells and promoting the growth of newer cells. In addition, it promotes the circulation of lymphatic fluid, which is the body’s way of removing waste and delivering nutrients. Any type of exercise is good for your skin, even a brisk walk.
10. Poor cleansing routine
When it comes to skin care, gentler is generally better. You don’t need harsh scrubs, but you do need to cleanse your skin twice a day to remove the environmental pollutants you are exposed to in everyday life. Harsh exfoliants can strip the skin of its natural moisture. Don’t forget to hydrate the skin after cleansing with an effective topical cream or lotion to lock in the moisture. Moisturizing alone can work wonders for improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.