Skin Health is More Than Just a Pretty Face

House of Aesthetix gives you more than just a pretty face. It’s a barrier that protects against bacteria, the sun’s UV rays, and other environmental pollutants.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, fiber, and plant-based antioxidants promotes healthy skin. Also, consider working with a health care provider to manage conditions that can impact the skin, such as anemia, which can reduce red blood cells and decrease oxygen flow.

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Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it needs water to function properly. If it’s not getting enough water, your skin will look dull, flaky, dry, and tight. A dehydrated complexion can also make fine lines and wrinkles appear more prominent.

Drinking more water will hydrate your skin, but adding hydrating foods and products to your diet is important. These include leafy green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Hydrating foods, including antioxidants, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids, also provide important nutrients for your skin. Eating healthy foods and avoiding processed and sugary foods, which can contribute to inflammation and breakouts, is a good idea.

When the outer layer of your skin is well-hydrated, it can flush away toxins, carry nutrients to cells, and prevent germs from entering. In addition, hydrated skin looks smooth and soft.

The recommended amount of water to drink each day is eight glasses. You can also increase hydration by using a moisturizer that has occlusive ingredients, like white petrolatum, to create a barrier over the skin; humectants, such as glycerin, to pull in moisture from the environment; and emollients, such as natural oils, to help smooth the rough edges between layers of the skin. It’s best to apply a moisturizer after you shower to maximize absorption.

To test your hydration level, gently pinch the fleshy part of your skin where your cheek and under-eye area meet. Your hydration is optimal if the skin snaps back to its normal position quickly. If the skin tenses and stays in place, your hydration is lower, and your skin may be prone to fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamins are a key part of cellular productivity, which leads to healthy tissue. This includes the skin, the body’s largest organ. A poor diet and stress can often lead to vitamin deficiencies, dryness, acne, and other skin issues. While some may be tempted to pop supplements and apply vitamin-infused creams and serums, the best way to support skin health is through a nutritious diet and sun protection.

Vitamin A, retinoids, and carotenoids are widely considered to be the most effective skincare ingredients available. It promotes cell turnover and repair, reduces redness and inflammation, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps even out skin tone. Vitamin A also stimulates collagen synthesis, which helps improve elasticity and firmness. Vitamin C is another potent skincare ingredient that helps protect against oxidative damage and can improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dullness. It also enhances the skin’s natural UV protective capacity, so it’s a great ingredient for anyone who spends time outdoors. Vitamin E, in the form of tocotrienols, has been shown to decrease inflammatory responses induced by UV exposure in cultured keratinocytes and to inhibit UV-induced oxidative damage to skin cells.

Other important vitamins for the skin include B vitamins (especially vitamin B3), which help to calm inflammation and irritation, especially in conditions like eczema, and increase the skin’s levels of lipids, strengthening the barrier. Vitamin D is also essential for skin health, as it helps regulate the immune system and promotes the growth of hyaluronic acid, which helps moisturize the skin and promote youthfulness. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, dairy, eggs, fortified products, sunlight, and some supplements.

You’ve probably heard of antioxidants—or at least, the term gets tossed around in many health and beauty articles and blogs. But what exactly are they, and how do they affect your skin?

Antioxidants are molecules in key skincare ingredients and foods that help prevent oxidative stress. Your body naturally produces free radicals during cellular respiration, but UV rays, pollution, smoking, and certain medications can also cause them. When these free radicals are unchecked, they can damage cells and DNA, leading to various health problems.

Free radicals can affect your skin in various ways, including premature aging, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation. Antioxidants work to prevent oxidative stress by reversing and preventing the damage that free radicals cause.

The good news is that you can incorporate many natural antioxidants into your diet and skincare routine to keep your skin healthy. “Vitamin C is a very popular antioxidant known for its ability to reverse and prevent discoloration and brighten the complexion,” says dermatologist Marisa Garshick of MDCS Dermatology in New York City. It’s found in various fruits and veggies, such as strawberries, oranges, blueberries, red peppers, lemons, and kale. Vitamin E is another antioxidant often paired with vitamin C because it enhances the effectiveness of the other vitamin.

Other natural antioxidants include:

  • Anthocyanins (found in blue and purple fruits and vegetables, such as berries, purple potatoes, blueberries, blackcurrants, red grapes, and eggplants).
  • Resveratrol (from dark chocolate, peanuts, and red wine).
  • Isoflavones (found in soybeans, which may reduce menopause symptoms and help with bone, heart, and lung health).

Some of these are also found in supplements—though most experts agree it’s best to get antioxidants from your diet whenever possible.

Exfoliation is one of the most important steps in any skincare routine. It helps whisk away the buildup of dead skin cells that can dull your complexion and cause splotchy skin. It also enhances the effectiveness of your skincare products by allowing them to penetrate the skin more easily.

There are two primary methods of exfoliation: chemical and mechanical. Chemical exfoliation involves using a product that uses chemicals to loosen and slough away the top layer of dead skin cells. Examples include chemical peels and exfoliating serums that contain alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid) or beta hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid). Mechanical exfoliation uses a tool—such as a scrub, loofah, or brush—to physically slough away the top layer of skin cells. Scrubs with a gritty texture or exfoliating body brushes are common manual exfoliants.

Exfoliate your face and body two to three times a week. However, be sure to use a gentle exfoliant and follow the instructions on your product. Too much exfoliation can irritate the skin, leading it to produce more oil and become more prone to breakouts. It can also lead to the overproduction of collagen, which causes sagging and wrinkles.

Exfoliating is especially important for those with a dry complexion as it can help reduce flaking, dry patches, and a dull appearance. You can exfoliate more often for those with oily skin but always stick to a few times weekly so your skin doesn’t become too sensitive. It’s also recommended that you skip exfoliating if you have a condition like psoriasis, rosacea, or an open wound.

Your skin barrier is your first line of defense. It comprises special skin cells called corneocytes bound together with a natural moisturizer, keratin, and a mix of lipids, ceramides, and cholesterol. It helps keep harmful environmental stressors, like bacteria, toxins, and allergens, out of the body while preventing water loss and helping maintain your natural pH balance.

It’s important to avoid skincare habits that disrupt the skin barrier, including hot showers and over-washing, over-exfoliating, and using products with harsh ingredients. These factors can cause a breakdown in the skin barrier, which can lead to redness, itching, dryness, and other symptoms that are hard to detect on the surface of your skin.

In addition to avoiding these skincare habits, you can incorporate products that support a healthy skin barrier into your routine. For example, a face oil with antioxidants like vitamin C, ferulic acid, niacinamide, and coenzyme Q10 can help protect the skin barrier from external stressors. You can also choose a non-comedogenic formula free of synthetic fragrances and high concentrations of essential oils.

Lastly, wearing sunscreen daily and reapply every two hours is essential. Sunscreen helps prevent the skin barrier from breaking down and absorbing UVA and UVB rays that can damage the skin.