Our skin is our body’s largest organ, yet often we don’t treat it with the care it deserves. Breakouts, blackheads and dark circles are just some of the signs that your lifestyle is taking its toll on your complexion.
Why not take on a new years promise to spruce up your skin by making some changes towards achieving a younger, more youthful appearance.
Wash away the day
Not washing cosmetics or the day’s dirt and grime off your face before you go to sleep can cause your skin to age prematurely. It also lies behind irritation, clogged pores and breakouts. Yet, despite this up to a third of us go to sleep twice a week without bothering to remove our make-up and cleanse our face. Remove this layer of grime with a nightly face wash, and nourish your complexion with a good mosturiser. This will give your skin time to renew and replenish overnight. This is not strictly a bedtime routine either. Wash your face when you get home from work, or after dinner – the earlier the better! Give your skin a wake up in the morning with a splash of warm water.
Most of us know we should protect our skin while sunbathing or spending time outside during the hotter weather. However, did you know that not wearing an SPF all year round still leaves your skin vulnerable to damage by UV rays? In fact studies indicate that 78 per cent of the sun exposure we get in a lifetime is actually incidental, yet this same exposure is the number one cause of premature ageing. You don’t even need to be outside, driving in your car or sitting near a window is enough to do damage. Counteract this by ensuring your daily moisturiser contains a minimum of SPF 15 (although SPF 30 is even better). Keep an eye on those moles as well, especially if you have a family history of skin cancer, are fair-haired or have had excessive exposure to the sun.
Sleep it off
Sleep has many health benefits, but none more noticeable than the effect on our skin. Not only does it banish unsightly dark circles, but when we sleep, our body is at its most metabolically active, ridding our bodies of toxins which would otherwise cause chaos with our complexion. Eight hours of sleep a night also goes along way to reducing our stress levels – a possible aggravator of breakouts, wrinkles and facial redness.
Get good fats
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods such as almond, flaxseed and salmon, boost hydration, fight wrinkles and keep your skin supple and firm. Omega-3 also acts as an anti-oxidant, protecting your skin against harmful free radials, which damage cells and can lead to cancer and premature ageing. These fatty acids help defend your skin from being damaged by the sun, as well as repairing any damage that has already been done. Eicosapentaenoic acid or (EPA), which is one of the acids present in omega-3, should be your new best friend. This regulates oil production in your skin, and prevents the release of harmful collagen-destroying enzymes to ward off sagging skin and fine lines. Omegas-3s also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve rosacea, psoriasis and eczema.
Get your five-a-day
Never mind expensive lotions and potions, it appears that humble fruit and veg could be the secret behind youthful skin. Plant-based foods packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help to firm up, repair and maintain your complexion. For example, vitamin C, found in vegetables such as broccoli and bell peppers helps to produce collagen to keep your skin firm and also protects your cells from damage by free radicals. On the other hand, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants, which help your skin to repair itself, and protect against damage caused by a destructive mixture of pollution and nature’s elements.
Embrace your uniqueness!
Your skin has its own unique needs, so you need to find the products that work best for you. A friend or a celebrity may rave about the effects of a certain skincare product, yet this very same product could actually have an adverse effect on your complexion. Consider which skin type you are. Is your skin normal, dry, oily, sensitive or combination?
Pin down your skin type
with our handy guide:
Normal skin type
If you have a normal skin type – lucky you! You will have few imperfections, no real sensitivity, barely visible pores and will enjoy a radiant complexion.
Combination skin type
If you have a combination skin type, it’s likely that your skin will be dry in some areas and oily in others. Your T-zone (nose, forehead and chin) will be particularly oily, and you will notice overly dilated pores, blackheads and shiny skin.
Dry skin type
Dry skin produces a dull complexion, with red patches and almost invisible pores. Because dry skin tends to have less elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles appear more pronounced. Long, hot baths and showers, indoor heating and certain medications may make dry skin worse, causing it to become itchy, irritated and inflamed.
Oily skin type
A shiny complexion, enlarged pores, blackheads and frequent breakouts are often indicative of an oily skin type. These factors are often made worse by stress, humidity and hormonal imbalances experienced during puberty.
Sensitive skin type
If you have sensitive skin, you are likely to experience redness, itching, burning and dryness.