Apart from any inherited factors that determine what type of skin you have, there are many internal and external factors that affect the way your skin looks and feels.
Knowing how these factors affect the skin is important if your goal is to keep your skin looking and feeling its best for as long as possible.
Poor skincare – lack of proper daily skincare, or incorrect skincare, can be a major factor affecting the skin’s condition. For example, poor hygiene can lead to damage from acne – or using the wrong products for your skin type can strip the skin and damage the protective barrier of the skin, leading to premature wrinkles and other damage.
Sun damage (Photoaging) – the main cause of premature aging of the skin is sun damage. The harmful rays break down the skin’s support structure – the all important collagen and elastin that keeps our skin tight and supple. Someone with sun damaged skin will have deeper lines and wrinkles compared to someone who does not have sun damage. The texture of the skin will be rougher, tougher, thicker and dehydrated and there may be areas of prominent blood vessels and uneven skin tone. Damage from tanning machines and sunbeds can cause the same damage and produce the same results as natural sunlight.
Environmental Exposure – exposure to extreme weather conditions (cold, heat, wind, rain and sudden changes in temperature), pollutants and poor air quality all adversely affect the skin’s quality, resulting in dryness and dehydration.
Occupation – depending on where you work, the environment at work can affect the skin – things such as hot or humid conditions, a dusty environment – even overly dry air in the workplace from air conditioning or heating, affects the skin’s condition.
Stress – when the body is subjected to regular stress and tension it can cause sensitivity and allergies in the skin as well as encourage the formation of lines around the eyes and mouth
Hormones – the natural hormonal changes in the body affect the condition of the skin. The rise of hormones in teenagers affects the sebaceous (oil) glands and causes an imbalance in the skin. Menstruation, pregnancy and menopause are all hormone-related factors affecting the skin’s look and feel.
Smoking – the effects of smoking has been linked to premature aging, lines and wrinkles. Nicotine deprives the skin’s tissue of essential oxygen, leaving the skin looking dull. Smoking destroys vitamins B and C in the body which are important for healthy skin. And finally, smoking increases the pore size on the skin and increases the formation of lines around the eyes and mouth.
Water consumption – the skin is made up of about 70% water. When we deprive our bodies of enough water, toxicities build up in the skin and it become dehydrated.
Alcohol – alcohol has a dehydrating affect on the skin – it draws essential water from the tissue. Excessive drinking causes blood vessels in the skin to dilate, resulting in a flushed appearance.
Exercise – we all know that regular exercise is good for us – so it’s no surprise that it’s good for your skin too. Regular exercise promotes good circulation and increased oxygen to the skin.
Sleep – getting enough sleep is one of the most effective regenerators for the skin.
Diet – healthy skin is not only a sign of good skincare, it’s a sign that you have healthy eating habits too. Poor nutrition, foods high in fats, sugar, or those with additives and made with refined products, not only adversely affect the internal organs, they affect our major organ – the skin.
Free Radicals – these are parts of oxygen molecules that are found in the body. As a result of the external factors outlined above – smoking, pollution, sunlight etc., – free radicals attack the skin at the cellular level causing the quality of newly formed skin cells to deteriorate. After age 20, our natural defense mechanisms decline and the skin can no longer effectively defend itself from free radicals. Supplementing antioxidant deficiencies (enzymes that fight free radicals) with hormone and vitamin based products is the basic premise behind many new anti-aging therapies and treatments.
Vitamins – along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, taking certain vitamin supplements is an easy way to help keep the skin healthy. Here are four basic vitamins that help the skin:
- Vitamin A – helps repair body tissues, prevents dryness and aging
- Vitamin B – improves circulation and skin color and is essential to cellular oxidation
- Vitamin C – essential for healing, maintains levels of collagen
- Vitamin D – heals damaged tissues and structural damage to the skin
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