Smooth, blemish-free skin—not too dry, not too oily, not too wrinkled or lined—is associated with health, beauty, and youth. The skin care industry makes billions of dollars by producing and selling products that claim to enhance or restore the natural beauty and health of your skin. Some of them can give good results, some can cause more damage. But what can you do to care for your skin naturally, without the help 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 and healthy ideal. Some are environmental; the most damaging are the sun’s UV rays. Detergents that contain certain sulfates can be harmful to the skin, as can cigarette smoke. Certain climatic conditions, such as low humidity, extreme cold or strong winds, can reduce moisture in the skin and cause dryness and cracking. Makeup sometimes contains chemicals that can be harmful. Cleaning the skin too often or with water that is too hot can also lead to skin damage.
Genetics have a lot to do with all aspects of your body, including the appearance and health of your skin. Also, the skin, like any other part of your body, will begin to lose functionality with age. As we age, fewer hormones are produced, less collagen is generated naturally, and as a result, the skin will slowly begin to deteriorate. Reduced elasticity, wrinkles, brown spots, sagging skin, and dryness are some of the most 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 processed white flour can be very harmful. Drinks that are high in sugar, like soda, are also bad for your skin. A diet that is lacking in essential nutrients that work to help maintain healthy skin will also help cause various skin diseases.
How can you help keep your skin healthy?
Now that you know 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 sun’s damaging rays (which not only accelerate wrinkles and dry skin, but can also lead to skin cancer), protect your skin! Wear protection in the form of hats and clothing when you are going to be out in the sun for long periods of time. Use sunscreen to protect exposed areas from harmful UV rays.
When washing, use lukewarm rather than hot water, and don’t over-wash (showering more than twice a day is overkill). Wear very little to no makeup, and when you wear it, be sure to remove it completely before bed. 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 beautiful smooth exterior is through a diet rich in foods that are vital to skin care. Some of the best foods for your skin are:
- Asparagus – Contains silica, a crucial mineral for skin elasticity and its ability to heal wounds. Silica also helps strengthen bones, tendons, and muscles. In addition to asparagus, silica can also be found in strawberries, celery, cucumber, mango, chickpeas, and leeks.
- Peppers – High content of vitamin C, which helps combat 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 are also rich in vitamin E.
- pecans – A great source of 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 sight, taste and smell. Pumpkin seeds, eggs, and green tea contain zinc.
- Salmon – Cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, something your body doesn’t produce but is essential for skin’s moisture content and suppleness. 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, along with liver, chili peppers, carrots, melons, and spinach, are excellent natural sources of this essential vitamin.
Taking good care of your skin does not have to be expensive or involve complicated formulas from cosmetic companies. A nutrient-dense skincare diet, combined with environmental common sense and a little knowledge, will pay off big. So keep your skin looking naturally smooth and beautiful, and as a bonus, think of the money you’ll save!