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Smart Skincare Choices for Healthier Skin

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There are countless skincare products out there. They've been packaged to smell nice and make our skin feel soft and smooth (even if it is only for the moment).  It can be hard to resist the temptation to buy an item, only to move on to the next latest-and-greatest product moments later. And before you even finish a container, you're buying even more stuff.  Eventually you get to the point where your bathroom cabinets and drawers are quite crowded. And this buying pattern becomes a neverending cycle.

Just about everyone wants to have skin that is as close to perfect as possible. Common skin changes that most of us want include getting rid of issues like:
1) wrinkles around the eyes
2) brown spots
3) pimples
4) large pores

However, it seems that most people are always on the lookout for the right lotion, serum, cream or exfoliator.  And it can be hard to think outside this paradigm of constantly trying to find the right product. Although skin care items can help with maintenance, most of them are not able to create cellular changes. Even the FDA makes the distinction between a product and a drug. Like many things in life, placing too much emphasis on surface issues doesn't really lead to long term satisfaction with the results. We have to dig deeper and target the core of what it is we want to change or improve. Our skin is certainly an example of this. It is a biological organ, it is part of a larger system. It is nourished or undernourished from within. The products that  we apply on the surface can be thought of as part of a larger plan for our skin's health and radiance. 

Diet Choices
Eating a well rounded diet can help benefit your overall health. But if you are curious to know what actually benefits the skin, here is a quick summary:

  • Anti-Oxidants
    Sun rays and toxins can cause oxygen molecules in our skin to become unstable. They become free radicals that will ravage other tissues (like collagen and elastin fibers) to regain stability.  Anti-oxidants will  neutralize these compounds to prevent this damage. Good sources include: color rich fruits and vegetables and green tea. 
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
    So much of what we read on the internet focuses on anti-oxidants for skin health. However we also need to make sure that we are getting plenty of omega 3 fatty acids in our diet. When cells reproduce they use fatty acids to create lipids that make up the cell membrane.  Omega 3's are abundant in fish. They are also available in flax seeds, walnut oil and perilla oil
  • Vitamin C
    Research suggests that Vitamin C plays an important role in collagen synthesis and numerous vitamin C serums have been developed. However, in packaged products, the compound can easily lose its potency. There are DIY recipes online which teach you how to make your own so that you can always create your own fresh supply.  Even better than applying Vitamin C on your skin is consuming as much as possible from natural sources like oranges. Choose organic whenever possible. The second best option (and perhaps more convenient) is to buy minimally processed Vitamin C powder, which you can dissolve in water. It has a tart taste.
  • Reducing Sugars and Carbs
    Research is now showing that simple sugars and high glycemic foods (which quickly break down into glucose) contribute to acne. These compounds will stimulate the production of hormones that will cause your oil glands to  work over time. Dead skin cells are often carried in the oil and get trapped in the pores. This is why many people still have acne pimples even though they constantly wash their face.

These dietary choices may not seem very alluring at first.  But there are countless recipes online that you can experiment with. Try out a salad recipe that incorporates dark green vegetables, along with colorful peppers and maybe some purple cabbage. Top it off with a dressing of your choice and a spoonful of flax seeds. Feel free to improvise until you find what suits your taste buds. 

Sun Protection
As you probably already know, your skin is subject to the damaging effects of UV rays.  Research on twins show that most forms of aging are caused by sun damage. Therefore, it is important to avoid excessive amounts of  exposure and to use sunscreen on a regular basis. The terminology and the numbers printed on the labels of these products can be confusing for many people (e.g SPF, UVA, UVB).

Other Things To Avoid
Also smoking, alcohol and caffeine also contribute to premature aging of the skin. Smoking and caffeine constricts your blood vessels. This can deprive your skin of the nutrients and hydration it needs. Alcohol will cause you to retain a lot of water. And once this is released, it can lead to skin sagging through prolonged usage. These habits are not easy for many people to just quit. Instead, it may help to find healthier replacement habits and counseling, if necessary. 

Working With A Dermatologist
Many of the skin issues that we want to change actually originate from deeper skin layers. For example, collagen damage leads to wrinkles and sagging. Chronic acne often results from intrinsic issues having to do with hormones and our oil glands. Advances in modern dermatology are quite amazing.  It is now possible to change tiny structures in the skin to create the changes and results that you want. Another benefit to working with a dermatologist is that he or she can make recommendations that are specific to your needs. They can help you create a customized and effective skin care program just for you. This is much better than following generic advice that doesn't quite produce the changes you want.

Final Note
The skin can be thought of as a canvas. Once this surface is improved, the effects of makeup can be quite stunning. Smart skincare decisions require an understanding of the logic behind treatment and prevention. It's important to recognize when something is just catering to your emotions and when an option actually works to create the changes you want. 


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