Keep your Skin Looking Younger

The key to healthy skin lies beyond which soap you use. It depends on what you eat, whether you exercise, how much stress you're under and even the kind of environment in which you live and work.

All of these things affect how fast your skin ages, and thus how it will look, by influencing certain processes:

Fluids

How much and what type of fluid do you drink? (Prune juice or orange juice can stimulate the bowels, or another type of fruit juice may work best for you.)

Food

How much fiber or bulk (such as fruits and vegetables, bran, whole grain breads and cereals) do you eat? Some foods (such as dairy products, white potatoes, white bread and bananas) can contribute to constipation, while others (such as excess amounts of fruit, caffeine, or spicy foods) may soften the stool or cause diarrhea.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol enlarges a person's blood vessels, which can temporarily redden or flush the cheeks. When blood vessels are severely damaged by chronic drinking, the palms and soles also become reddened.

Chronic drinkers develop larger oil glands and blood vessels. This process results in the enlargement of the skin's pores, particularly of the nose and chin. Chronic drinking can cause liver disease, including cirrhosis, which changes the skin color to yellow.

Body Piercing

Much of the same advice about tattooing applies to body piercing. Infection is possible if the piercer does not follow proper health procedures, such as washing hands, wearing gloves, disinfecting surfaces, and using a new sterile needle. Infection is also possible if the individual does not care for the hole properly. About 15% of the population is allergic to nickel, a material common in body jewelry. These people may experience rashes as a result of exposure to the metal.

Depending on where jewelry is placed, body piercings can cause problems with speech, eating, hearing and other body functions. For example, body jewelry can be torn out during contact sports. Dentists are particularly concerned about the dangers of tongue piercings. Among the things that can go wrong as a result of tongue piercings are swelling of the tongue that can interfere with breathing, cracked teeth, choking on loosened or unscrewed jewelry, and infection with hepatitis, HIV or bacteria.

Exercise

Exercise contributes to weight maintenance, which helps maintain the smooth appearance of the skin. However, some forms of exercise can also damage the skin. For example, weightlifting to increase muscle size can produce "stretch marks" because of breaks within the connective tissue of the dermis. When a person loses weight too rapidly, his or her existing stretch marks will grow.

Exercise also increases sweating and skin temperature. Infections caused by bacteria and/or fungi may occur if proper hygiene is not performed after exercise. In addition, some clothes and shoes used while exercising can lead to blisters on the hands, feet or body.

Hair Products

Some hair dyes can cause allergic reactions. Be sure to test the dye on a small area of your skin (behind the ear or inside the elbow) and wait 48-72 hours before making a change in your hair color with these products.

Permanent waves can damage the hair, so take care not to perm your hair more often than every three months. If the perming solution is left on too long, is too strong or is applied to hair already damaged by dyes, the hair could break and the scalp could become irritated. Frequent tight braiding or tight ponytails, as well as hair straightening agents, flat irons, curling irons, and hot rollers, can also cause hair loss or broken hair.

Hygiene

Hygiene impacts the health of the skin. A basic hygiene routine includes washing the face in the morning and before bed with soap/cleanser, warm water and a clean wash cloth, taking a shower or bath daily using warm water, soap and a clean wash cloth, cleaning nails, and washing hair regularly (e.g., every 2-3 days).

Nails & Manicures

If you manicure your own nails, be careful not to cut, remove or injure nail cuticles. Their job is to prevent infection and protect nail-forming cells.

Nail polish and nail glue can cause allergic reactions. Use a polish that is labeled "hypoallergenic" and nail polish remover that is acetone-free.

Sculptured nails - those that are custom-made to fit permanently over your natural nails - can cause severe and painful reactions. Doctors recommend that people who wear artificial nails take them off every three months to allow their natural nails to breathe.

Perspiration

Through the skin's process of sweating, the water we drink helps to cool our bodies in warm weather. When the body gets too warm, water seeps out through the sweat pores of the skin. Sweat evaporates from our skin using heat from the body to turn the liquid into vapor. It is harder for the sweat to evaporate quickly on a humid day, which is why we feel warmer than we do on a dry day at the same temperature.

Smoking

Smokers have more wrinkles around their eyes and mouths, especially since they're continually tightening their lips around cigarettes. Tobacco and cigarettes can cause the skin to turn an unhealthy, unnatural color.

Smoking and chewing tobacco can also hurt the skin through the development of lip cancer, mouth cancer and/or emphysema. When emphysema in the lungs causes shortness of breath, the skin may turn bluer due to lack of oxygen.

Stress

Stress plays a role in skin care, especially because many habits associated with stress hurt the skin. For example, lip biting can tear and damage skin. Rubbing and scratching the skin can cause a skin condition called dermatitis. Picking at the cuticle skin around your nails can also produce infection. Additionally, if you shower with very hot water to relieve stress, your skin may become dry and itchy. Stress can also play a role in the development of various skin ailments.
Sun Safety & Indoor Tanning

Weather

Hot weather increases the evaporation of body fluids, which can lead to dehydration and constipation.

External massage

Massaging the lower abdomen in a circular, clockwise motion from right to left increases bowel activity.

Limiting

Limiting your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation while protecting your skin is the single most important thing you can do to maintain healthy skin.