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Skin Care Basics

Doctorpedia Editorial Team Doctorpedia Editorial Team March 30, 2021

We all want that skin, right? That glowing, touchable, soft skin, like celebrities Jennifer Lopez, Lupita Nyong’o, Katy Perry, or Jennifer Garner. Since we don’t all have access to celebrity dermatologists or high-end facials with exotic ingredients, how do we get it? Here are some ideas on how to avoid damage to your skin and get a fresh, glowing look.

 

Avoid Sun Damage

 

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, so sunscreen is a must. Not only does it reduce your risk of skin cancer, it can help you avoid other sun damage, such as “sun spots” and wrinkles. The kind of sunscreen you need depends on how long you’ll be out in the sun and whether or not you’re going to be in the water, but you’ll want to look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. For everyday use, 15 SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is probably all you’ll need, but if you work or workout outside, you’ll want at least a 30 SPF. Water-resistant sunscreen is necessary if you’re going to be in the water. Sunscreen should be reapplied throughout the day, and it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding how often to reapply.

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Cancer - Prevention

Cancer - Prevention

You Are What You Eat

 

Various foods can contribute to the development of acne, and other foods can actually help clear it up. If you have persistent acne, what should you – and shouldn’t you – eat?

 

Avoid these foods:

  • Dairy products. Although the science isn’t completely clear on milk, yogurt and cheese causing acne, one study of more than 78,000 children and young adults found that consumption of dairy products was associated with an increased frequency of acne. If you just can’t clear up those spots, try avoiding dairy for a few weeks.
  • Fast foods. Studies show that eating fatty and greasy foods may increase risk of acne. It’s not known exactly why, but common sense says that getting grease on your face while chowing down on a burger and fries can clog your pores and worsen acne. 
  • Sugary foods and refined grains. One study done in Turkey found that consumption of sugars and refined grains like cakes and pastries raised risk of acne by 30 and 20 percent, respectively. 

And try these foods:

  • Probiotics. Today, researchers know a great deal about the role probiotics play in promoting healthy gut bacteria and reducing inflammation. Acne is caused, in part, by inflammation, so probiotics like yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir may be able to help with your breakouts.
  • Complex carbohydrates. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which have a low glycemic index could be able to reduce your risk of acne, according to a 2007 study.

 

What Supplements are Good for Your Skin?

 

Some supplements and vitamins may be beneficial in reducing acne. A study found that those with a deficiency in vitamins A and E had an increased prevalence of acne, so it can’t hurt to go down to your local health food store and pick up some vitamins. Make sure to grab some vitamin D while you’re there, since it’s been linked to an improvement in acne.  Another important mineral for clearing up acne is zinc, which has been shown to have numerous anti-inflammatory benefits. 

 

Skin Check

 

It’s important to add a self-exam to your skincare routine. If you know what your skin and all your moles, spots, and bumps look like, then you’ll know if something has changed. Look for things that are different in your skin, like a mole or spot that is getting bigger or changing color. If you have trouble seeing places, like your back, have someone help you–they can even draw a map! If you have had skin cancer in the past or have a family history of skin cancer, make sure you are seeing a dermatologist regularly to get a pair of professional eyes on your skin. 

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Natural Ingredients Great for Skin

 

Do you really need that high-priced product that a celebrity is pitching to you? Maybe not. The range of skincare products on the shelves is mind-boggling, so here are some ingredients to keep in mind that might help you narrow the field and find the best choices for your body. You might even want to look on the food aisle!  Natural products can be great for your skin. Look for those that have hydrating, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and healing properties. 

 

  • Coconut oil is anti-inflammatory and helps keep in moisture. However, it might not be for you if you have oily skin or acne.
  • Shea butter is hydrating and anti-inflammatory. As an added bonus, it’s something that most people are not allergic to. It can provide relief for any itching problems you may have, such as eczema. It is loaded with fatty acids, so it may not be right for you if you have oily skin but can be helpful for anyone whose skin is dry. 
  • Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties, and it also has been shown to help with minor blemishes. It can be hard on the skin, so if you decide to use it, do so sparingly. If you get redness or a rash, tea tree oil is not for you.
  • Oatmeal has been used for centuries to combat inflammation and rashes. Some people find relief from eczema and other skin irritations with an oatmeal bath. It can be very healing without causing allergic reactions. Look for colloidal oatmeal; it’s been ground to an extremely fine powder so it can bind with water to provide moisturizing effects.
  • Green tea has been consumed for years because of its healing properties. But it’s also great to use topically. The polyphenols in green tea provide antioxidants, which have anti-aging properties, and it’s been shown to soothe sunburn.
  • Gotu kola has been used in Asian medicine for centuries because of its wound-healing properties. If you have any skin injuries, this is an ingredient that will speed healing.

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Treat Your Skin Carefully! 

 

You wash your skin regularly to remove any dirt, oils, or other contaminants that may have built upon its surface. But remember to be gentle! Wash in warm water and use a skin-safe soap to work up a gentle lather before rinsing it off; the combination of heat and gentle motion will make your pores widen and discharge any contaminants that may have worked their way deeper into the skin. Overwashing (too much or too hard) can take the top layers of skin off and leave you with skin too thin to reject impurities or feeling overly sensitive. When you are done, pat yourself dry with a soft towel; rubbing hard or using a rough cloth can make your skin blotchy and red. Even if you have oily skin, follow cleansing with a moisturizer–there are many great oil-free moisturizer options.

 

Conclusion

 

It’s hard to overstate the importance of taking care of your skin–it’s the largest organ of your body. It’s the first layer of your immune system, keeping out bacteria and other pathogens. It keeps you cool through perspiration and heat release and communicates sensory input from every part of the body to the brain. 

Taking care of your skin is one of the best things you can do for yourself. In addition to keeping you healthy, skincare can feel like you’re pampering yourself. That’s good for your stress levels, too!

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