Simple Skin Secrets

Health, Home & Family
on June 20, 2004

Your skinthe bodys largest organdeserves tender, loving care. You can keep it vibrant and healthy by taking a little extra care.

Start with your daily shower or bath. Keep it cool, advises dermatologist Ira A. Pion. Hot water dries the skin. Take fewer, shorter, cooler showers. After you gently towel off, you have a three-minute window to lock in moisture before it evaporates. Apply a moisturizer promptly.

Petroleum jelly or mineral oil are your best bet, Pion says, but if theyre too messy for you, buy an inexpensive cream moisturizer. Price has little to do with the effect, he says.

Your soap or cleanser also can affect your skin, Pion says. Non-soap cleansers will keep your skin from drying. Liquid cleansers are best, second-best are moisturizing true soaps, but deodorant soaps can rinse away moisture along with dirt, and scented soaps may cause skin irritation. Look for fragrance-free products, he says.

Protect your skin from the suns effects, Pion says. Sun block containing an SPF (sun-protective factor) of 15 or less is sufficient if you are exposed to the suns damaging ultra-violet rays for less than an hour a day. But if you love the outdoors, use a higher SPF waterproof sunscreen when you swim, shower, or perspire, he says.

Other skin protectors:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Many nutritionists recommend eating fish at least twice a week, particularly salmon, herring, and other cold-water fish, because their omega-3 fatty acids can help replace moisture in dry skin and hair.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water daily. Plenty of hydration will keep your skin from having a dry, scaly look. A humidifier in your home also provides additional moisture.
  • Wear looser-fitting clothes during dry-skin season. Tight clothing traps perspiration, softens your skins outer layer, and breaks down its protective barrier, making dry skin dryer. Cotton breathes, allowing sweat to be naturally absorbed.
  • Relax. Stress can play havoc with all of your body organs, and your skin is no exception. Stress and insufficient rest will affect the levels of body chemicals, and will worsen skin conditions, particularly acne, Pion says. Find time for rest and relaxation, no matter how busy and hectic your day.

Finally, forget about developing laugh lines and remember that laughter is the best medicine.