Santa Barbara Cosmetic Surgeon Shares Habits for Healthy Skin

An article by Terry J. Perkins, MD

Santa Barbara Cosmetic Surgeon Dr. Terry J. PerkinsSkin that is akin to a baby’s skin – smooth, plump, and not wrinkled – is often considered “healthy” skin. Although many of us pay attention to how the skin’s outer surface “looks” we often don’t think about the function of the skin. Together the dermis (the inner layer of the skin) and the epidermis (the outer layers of the skin) act as a barrier from foreign objects, dirt, and bacteria. The skin also helps to regulate our body’s temperature and fluids. In addition to that, the skin contains nerve endings to let us know if something is hot or cold, sharp or dull, soft or hard. Keeping our skin healthy – on the outside and the inside – is very important. How can we do this?

By embracing the following healthy habits we can make a beneficial change to the health of the skin. Both the dermis and epidermis will change for the better.

Eat Well. There is some truth to the phrase “you are what you eat”. Choosing a balanced diet that has a heavy emphasis on colorful fruits and vegetables is good for your body and your skin. Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. Greasy and fatty foods tend to upset the natural balance within your body and, as a result, your overall health – including skin health – deteriorates.

Don’t Smoke. Nicotine in cigarettes causes narrowing of the blood vessels to the outermost layers of the skin, which impairs blood flow. Less blood flow to the skin means less oxygen, resulting in premature wrinkles and sagging (not just to the face, but other parts of the body too). Also, tobacco smoke chemicals will damage collagen and elastin, robbing the skin of their support system, which leads to sagging.

Minimize Alcohol. Drinking alcohol causes facial blood vessels to dilate and repeated abuse / misuse can cause permanent dilation resulting in red, spidery veins on the face. Chronic alcohol consumption will accelerate the aging process of your organs, including the skin. It can also rapidly dehydrate your body, and your skin, leaving you with a dull, ruddy look.

Wash Gently. Scrubbing your skin with a face towel or cleaning puff can create micro-tears in the skin. Cleanse gentle twice daily with your hands or use a Clarisonic brush that uses a gentle oscillation for a deep cleanse.

Use Moisturizer. Moisturizing protects the skin, improves tone and texture, and can mask imperfections. It is good for all skin types, including those who have oily or acne prone skin. Just as our bodies need water, your skin needs moisture to keep it balanced and hydrated.

Get Sleep. Sleep has many benefits. It lowers your metabolic rate so you are not producing as many skin damaging free radicals. While you are sleeping, your skin is not being exposed to any UV or environmental pollutants so it does not have to work on skin protection, instead it can focus on skin repair. Also, letting your skin “rest” can work wonders for your complexion.

Conduct Self-Screening. Keep an eye on your skin and note any changes, including funny looking moles, discoloration, or abnormal-looking skin. Seek help from a dermatologist to further assess the condition and help correct it.

And last, but certainly not least, one of the best habits to embrace for healthy skin:

Use Sun Protection. Prevention is the best medicine. Using sunscreen daily and wearing protective (wide-brimmed) hats or clothing, will ward off fine lines, wrinkles, and excessive pigmentation (age and “liver” spots). Look for a sunscreen made with zinc oxide and titanium oxide to provide a physical block from the UVA and UVB sun rays.

It is never too late to cultivate the above habits for your skin. And although your skin’s appearance may be the biggest reason for you to follow these healthy habits, the biggest benefit of all is that your healthy skin will reflect a healthy body.