Smooth, unblemished skin – not too dry and not too oily and not too wrinkled or lined – is associated with health, beauty and youth. The skin-care product industry earns billions of dollars producing and selling products that claim to enhance or restore the natural beauty and health of your skin. Some of them may yield good results, some may cause further damage. But what can you do to care for your skin naturally, without the aid of expensive supplemental creams and other products?
The Basics – What Causes Unhealthy Skin?
There are several factors that combine to change your skin from the smooth healthy ideal. Some are environmental; the most detrimental being the UV rays of the sun. Detergents containing certain sulphates can be harmful to your skin, as can cigarette smoke. Certain weather conditions, such as a low rate of humidity, extreme cold or high winds, can reduce the moisture in your skin leading to dryness and cracking. Make-up sometimes contains chemicals that can be harmful. Cleaning your skin too often, or with water that is too hot, can also lead to skin damage.
Genetics have a lot to do with every aspect of your body, including the appearance and health of your skin. In addition, the skin, like every other part of your body, will start to lose functionality with age. As we age, fewer hormones are produced, less collagen is generated naturally, and your skin will start to deteriorate slowly as a result. Reduced elasticity, wrinkles, brown spots, drooping skin and dryness are some of the more common skin conditions associated with the natural aging process.
What you eat – or don’t eat – is key to the health of your skin. Too much sugar or white processed flour can be very harmful. Drinks high in sugar content, such as soft drinks, are also bad for your skin. A diet lacking in essential nutrients that work to help keep the skin healthy will also aid in causing various skin ailments.
How Can You Help Keep Your Skin Healthy?
Now that you are aware of the many factors that influence skin health, what can you do naturally and inexpensively to keep it beautiful and healthy?
Common Sense to Combat Environmental Factors
To counteract the damaging rays of the sun, (which not only hasten along wrinkles and dry skin, but also can lead to skin cancer) protect your skin! Wear protection in the form of hats and clothing when you will be exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Wear sunscreen to protect exposed areas from those harmful UV rays.
When washing, use warm water rather than hot water, and don’t wash excessively (showering more than twice per day is excessive). Wear very little or no make-up, and when you do wear it, be sure to remove it completely before sleeping. Protect your hands from the cold and wind with gloves, and don’t smoke!
Diet and Nutrition
The best way to promote skin health and maintain that smooth beautiful exterior is through a diet rich in the foods that are vital to skin care. Some of the best foods for your skin are:
- Asparagus – Contains silica, a mineral crucial to the elasticity of your skin and its ability to heal wounds. Silica also helps to strengthen bones, tendons and muscles. In addition to asparagus, silica can also be found in strawberries, celery, cucumber, mango, garbanzo beans and leeks.
- Bell Peppers – High in Vitamin C, which helps fight wrinkles due to overexposure to the sun. Broccoli, parsley, blueberries and raspberries are also good natural sources of Vitamin C.
- Brazil Nuts – Just 3-4 Brazil nuts per day will provide sufficient amounts of selenium, an antioxidant that promotes skin elasticity. Selenium also reduces the risk of breast cancer, and can also be found in tuna, salmon, garlic, whole wheat bread and eggs.
- Peaches – Another essential vitamin for skin care and to combat sun damage is Vitamin E. Almonds, spinach, tomatoes and sunflower seeds also are high in Vitamin E.
- Pecans – A great source for zinc, a deficiency of which has been linked to acne. Zinc is also beneficial for your immune system and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. It is good for vision, taste and smell. Pumpkin seeds, eggs and green tea all contain zinc.
- Salmon – Cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, something your body does not produce but which is essential to moisture content and skin flexibility. Other foods that are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids are avocado, safflower oil, and flaxseed.
- Sweet Potatoes – Skin deficient in Vitamin A can become dry and flaky. Sweet potatoes, in addition to liver, chile peppers, carrots, cantelope and spinach, are excellent natural sources of this essential vitamin.
Taking good care of your skin does not have to be costly or involve complicated cosmetic company formulas. A diet rich in skin-care nutrients, combined with environmental common sense and a little knowledge, will yield great results. So keep your skin looking smooth and beautiful the natural way, and as an extra benefit, think of the money you’ll save!