How to Achieve Healthy Skin
From our sugar-laden morning coffee to the smog-filled commute and the happy hour that turns into last call, we wreak havoc on our skin on a daily basis. Skin is the largest organ in the body and is the first line of defense in preventing environmental contaminants, such as chemicals and pathogens, from entering the body and affecting the vital internal organs. As a result, how you care for your skin affects your whole body. Since we live in a visual, social media world where we're all showing our faces all the time, who doesn't want to have skin that looks and feels its best?
The Role of Healthy Skin
What can your skin tell you about your health? Skin, along with hair, nails, glands and nerves, is part of the integumentary system. The integumentary system acts as a barrier between your vital internal organs and contaminants in the environment. It also regulates your body temperature, retains fluids, protects against pathogens, receives environmental stimuli and eliminates waste.
The integumentary system is one of your body's vital systems that work in harmony to keep you in optimal health. The skin and the other components of the integumentary system help to maintain and support the functions that other organs need to perform at their best.
One of the most important roles of the skin is as a barrier to outside pathogens. As the first line of defense of the immune system, the skin contains glands that secrete oil to create a barrier, and immune cells reside in the skin to protect from infection.
The skin also absorbs and synthesizes vitamin D to aid the digestive system in the uptake of calcium from our diet, which is necessary for muscle contraction, skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, and the formation of strong and healthy bones and teeth. The digestive system contributes to skin health by providing dietary fats and oils for the skin's protective barrier.
Your skin is an important aspect of temperature regulation as well. Via nerve impulses from the brain, the skin can secrete sweat to cool the body, close capillaries near the surface to conserve heat, use the hair to trap heat and more. Skin is necessary to process environmental signals like touch, pressure, pain and other sensations, allowing us to respond appropriately to anything from threats to tickles.
If you think back to high school biology, you'll remember that the skin is made up of three layers of tissue, all of which serve a particular purpose. The epidermis, or outer layer of skin, is composed of dead cells that are constantly in a state of renewal. New cells are created in the lower portion that take the place of the dead cells on the surface approximately every 28 days. The dermis, or middle layer, contains nerves, hair follicles, sweat and oil glands, and blood vessels, as well as elastic fibers that give skin its resilience. The subcutaneous layer, or deepest layer, has fatty tissue that protects your body from heat and cold and provides protection from injuries.
Beautiful Skin: More Than Vanity?
Along with facial symmetry and perceived attractiveness of features like fat distribution, lip volume and white teeth, the glow and smoothness of skin is a perceived indicator of health and strong genetics. From an evolutionary perspective, choosing healthy people for partners and social circles has an obvious advantage.
Whether you're focusing on health or you want people swiping right on your profile, here are some ways to achieve that healthy glow:
Baking in a tanning bed is so 2000. If you want to keep your skin looking smooth and healthy now and in the next 10 or 20 years, sunscreen should be a part of your daily skincare routine. Sunscreen not only protects your skin from the ravages of age, but it also protects you from skin cancer. Ideally, you should use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher each day, and reapply after sweating or swimming. You may find it convenient to choose a daily moisturizer that contains sunscreen, but be sure to reapply it. If you miss that sun-kissed glow, try a self-tanner or spray tan to mimic the bronze look without the harmful UV rays.
Smoking is hazardous to your health for many reasons, one of which is that it can damage your skin. Smokers tend to develop fine lines and wrinkles around their eyes and mouth, and smoking over long periods creates discoloration in your skin that affects its overall look. Over time, smoking can cause emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which impacts your body's ability to circulate blood to your skin effectively and leads to a bluish tinge to the skin. Healthy, smooth skin starts from the inside, so kick the habit to achieve that youthful glow. You might even forgo the filters on your next selfie.
Drink in Moderation
Drinking alcohol, whether it's beer, wine or cocktails, can affect your skin. While drinking in moderation is fine, drinking excessively can damage the blood vessels in your face and create a reddish hue. Over time, the broken blood vessels become more prominent, leading to the "gin blossoms" look and visible capillaries that mar your smooth, even skin tone. Chronic drinkers also develop large oil glands and pores, especially on the nose and skin. In severe cases, drinking can lead to liver disease and a noticeable yellow tone to the skin and sclera, or the white area of the eyes.
Even if you only drink occasionally, you can still see the effects in your skin. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing you to pee out all the water and electrolytes from your body. It's also more difficult to rehydrate after this happens, leading to widespread dehydration that impacts all your vital functions, including the health of your skin. If you've ever woken up after a night out, you'll see this in the prominent fine lines, flaky appearance and sallow look of your skin. The best way to avoid dull, lifeless skin — and a hangover — after your happy hour cocktails is by consuming water in between your drinks and replenishing your electrolytes.
Get Your Diet on Track
Your diet is about more than looking like an Insta model. Eating a well-balanced diet ensures that your body receives all the vital nutrients you need for optimal health, especially for your skin. Focus on eating a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, to maintain the ideal nutrient balance and optimal health. Here are some of the most important nutrients for a healthy skin diet:
Vitamin A is necessary for healthy, smooth skin and hair, vision, immune health, and heart, lung and kidney function.
Vitamin B1 (riboflavin)
B1 is vital to many cellular processes, including growth and turnover, and converting proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
B3 is necessary to the function of every bodily system, including energy metabolism, hormone balance, adrenal function, circulation and the prevention of skin disorders like acne and melanoma.
Vitamin B6 is necessary to the central nervous system and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, protein and glucose metabolism, and the manufacturing of hemoglobin, which is necessary for oxygenating tissues.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in immune function, which aids the skin in protecting you from infection. It also acts as an antioxidant to help your skin repair and regenerate damaged cells.
The skin's role in absorbing sunlight to manufacture vitamin D is important, but this vitamin can also prevent skin from aging prematurely and help with conditions like dryness, eczema and psoriasis.
Water makes up roughly 55%-75% percent of our bodies, making it the most important nutrient we absorb. With a healthy diet, you can get plenty of water from the food you eat, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, to ensure that you're adequately hydrated.
Drink Plenty of Water
As discussed, water is the most important nutrient for the human body. Though you can get plenty of water from drinking beverages and eating a complete diet, it's still beneficial to include pure water.
Over the course of the day, you lose water from sweating, exercising and other activities. Within a period of just a few hours, you can begin to show the signs of dehydration.
Water is a necessary component for biochemical reactions such as absorbing metabolic heat, maintaining vascular volume, supplying nutrients, eliminating waste, regulating cell metabolism and maintaining gene expression, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. A deficit in water can result in impaired cognition, performance, thermoregulation, cardiac function and immune function.
In addition, water is essential to the normal function of the skin and its outermost layer, the stratum corneum. Your skin's water retention depends on two factors: the presence of natural moisturizing factors, or corneocytes, and intercellular lipids that form a barrier against water loss. With an imbalance in water loss, the functions of cell turnover are impaired, leading to dry, flaky skin.
Take Your Skin Hydration to the Next Level with Buoy
With normal functions like exertion and sweating, you're not only losing water, but you're also losing electrolytes like sodium, magnesium and potassium. While there are plenty of sports drinks on the market, many of them are packed with sugar, which can aggravate skin conditions like acne and eczema.
Instead of blowing your money on sports drinks and coconut water, why not just give your body the electrolytes it needs to replenish minerals and nutrients and improve hydration in any drink you wish?
Whether in your morning coffee, a glass of orange juice, or a plain bottle of water, a flavorless electrolyte supplement gives you everything you need in a handy, portable package for your on-the-go lifestyle. Contained in a squeezable bottle, Buoy offers a convenient way to ensure that you're replenishing your electrolytes on the go.
Healthy skin, Skin health, Healthy skin diet, What can your skin tell you about your health, Hydration
- Veridier-Sevrain, S.; Bonte, F. Skin hydration: a review on its molecular mechanisms. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17524122
- Institute of Medicine; Food and Nutrition Board; Panel on Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water; Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate, 2005. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/10925/dietary-reference-intakes-for-water-potassium-sodium-chloride-and-sulfate?onpi_newsdoc021104=
- Little, A. C., Jones, B. C., & DeBruine, L. M. (2011). Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 366(1571), 1638–1659. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2010.0404