You already know you should drink more water, avoid processed foods, and shelter from the sun to keep your skin healthy.
Our skin is not just a covering for our muscles and bones. Our skin is our bodies’ largest organ. And what an amazing organ it is! It’s a living shield – with pores, sweat glands, blood vessels, hair follicles and nerve endings.
It protects us from external microbes and the elements. It stretches as we grow, shrinks when we lose weight and heals itself when injured.
Most people make some effort to take care of the skin on their face. But many don’t give a second thought to how they treat the skin on their bodies.
Here are four simple tips for keeping the skin on your whole body as healthy and youthful looking as possible.
Although our skin is with us from the day we are born until the day we die, it is always renewing itself. In fact it takes a little under a month for the outer layer of your skin, the epidermis, to completely regenerate.
Exfoliating on a regular basis encourages the body to produce more collagen. Collagen is a protein that serves as one of the main building blocks for our bodies – bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and skin.
In fact collagen is what keeps your skin plump, giving it a more youthful appearance,
Exfoliating also helps your skincare products work better. Removing dead cells and unclogging pores allows moisturising products to penetrate your skin more deeply.
So take time to gently exfoliate your whole body on a regular basis. You can practice dry skin brushing, use a sugar scrub or simply wash with a facecloth in the shower. Exfoliate the old cells from the top of your skin and expose the new, younger ones from underneath.
Eat good fats
We’ve all heard the adage “you are what you eat”. Your skin truly reflects your diet. Support your body to generate healthy skin by making sure you’re getting enough healthy fat in your diet.
Fats make up the lipid layer that surrounds and protects every skin cell membrane. They help your skin stay hydrated as well as look firm or plump.
Wild caught fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel are some of the best sources of healthy omega-3 fats. If you don’t eat fish, you can increase omega-3 in your diet with flax seeds, walnuts and chia seeds. Omega-3 is full of anti-inflammatory properties which helps skin from the inside out. A diet rich in Omega-3s can also help slow down the ageing process.
Other sources of healthy fats to include in your everyday diet include avocados, virgin grade oils such as olive or coconut, and raw nuts and seeds.
Break a sweat
Sweating is actually good for your skin. The minerals and salt in your sweat are natural exfoliants. Urea and uric acid in sweat counter dry skin and dermatitis. When you sweat, you clear your skin of bacteria, dirt, oils and impurities.
In fact the best pH factor for your skin is the same as that of sweat.
Whether you break a sweat with exercise or enjoy a sauna, you are raising your heart rate and improving blood circulation.
This helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your skin which keeps it healthy. It promotes the production of both collagen and new skin cells.
But don’t forget to drink water to replenish the fluids you lost while sweating. Dehydration is terrible for your skin.
Avoid harsh soaps
Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, cleaning with soap makes it feel dry and tight.
Why? The pH of soap is more alkaline than skin. Soap strips away the natural fats (lipids) in the outer layer of skin.
Lipids are essential for retaining moisture and keeping your skin soft. More importantly lipids are are a core part of your skin barrier function which helps protect you from disease. Damaging your skin barrier can cause rough, flaky and itchy skin more vulnerable to pathogens.
Mass manufactured soap and body wash often use ingredients that dry your skin further. Synthetic fragrances, artificial dyes, ingredients designed to increase lathering and those derived from petrochemicals can all make dry skin worse. Not to mention the toxic load on your body.
Look for a natural soap or body wash with a lower or balanced pH similar to your skin. Try artisan or handmade soaps made using the hot process method using milk-based ingredients and quality oils for a better chance of skin-loving low pH levels.