Taking care of your skin involves taking care of your overall health and not just relying on skin-directed treatments. In order to maintain youthful looking skin and a radiant complexion, here are some good habits that you can cultivate.
- Be sun smart
This is the key in sunny Singapore. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes premature skin ageing, wrinkles and pigmentation. It breaks down collagen in our skin, which causes a loss of facial volume resulting in deep lines that physically age a person’s looks. UV radiation also increases the risk of certain skin cancers. Remember to use sunscreen – I recommend one with an SPF of 30. Your sunscreen should be applied over facial moisturiser.
Not all sun exposure is bad. Sunlight is responsible for the production of vitamin D, which is important for maintaining good health. The intensity of sun exposure is especially high between 10am to 2pm, while early morning sun is much gentler. I recommend that my patients take a vitamin D supplement if they require it, rather than expose themselves to noon day sun.
2. Eat the right foods and supplements
A well balanced diet is essential for healthy, fresh and radiant skin. Make sure you have a balanced diet with enough protein (from plant and animal sources), iron, zinc and omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids. Oily fishes such as tuna, salmon and sardines, as well as flaxseed, are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Drink plenty of water as well.
Incorporate some antioxidants in your diet. These are substances that mop up damaging free radicals, which cause skin damage and ageing. Vitamin E is a good antioxidant, as are substances such as beta-carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A), and other carotenoids such as lycopene. Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant known as polyphenol. Beta-carotenes are found in papayas, carrots, pumpkin and spinach. Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene.
3. Treat your skin right
Moisturise your skin regularly, particularly if you have very dry skin and underlying conditions such as eczema. Moisturisers are important because they keep the skin hydrated. Excessively dry skin is much more prone to irritation and inflammation, and this can result in itchy rashes. The skin can also develop a cracked appearance, especially on the legs.
Moisturisers come in several formulations – gels, creams, lotions and ointments. Gels and lotions are more suitable for those with oilier skin, whereas creams and ointments are better for those with drier skin. One tip for people with dry skin on the face is to use a hydrating serum first, before applying a moisturising cream or lotion. This may help to lock in more moisture so that the facial skin does not develop flaking or scaly rashes. Do not use harsh soaps or very strong cleansers for showers. Also, try to avoid long showers, which tend to dry out the skin further.
Finally, the key to healthy skin also means getting sufficient rest and avoiding bad habits such as smoking. Developing and maintaining good habits require discipline and some determination. Start these habits now and you will be rewarded with better looking skin in due time!