06 August, 2010

Skincare: Inside out


Do you know that the skin is the largest organ of our body? It performs many vital functions yet it is often taken for granted. It is important to understand that our skin is not a mere boundary between us and the environment, but an apparent indicator of our physical and mental health and skincare is not only ‘skin-deep’: to ensure its long-lasting tone, elasticity and attractiveness, we should nurture it both from within and outside. In summer our skin needs even more attention and protection, as a number of unpleasant skin problems, for example photo-ageing, sunburns, blisters etc. are directly related to excessive heat exposure. However, extra care is required for facial skin, because of its vulnerability and fragility as compared to the rest of the body.

Care from within
A major aspect of ‘care from within’ is balanced diet, as all nutrients from vitamin A to zinc, which our body needs for its optimum health, are equally essential for our skin to keep it in good shape and health. Among them some nutrients are particularly vital for healthy skin, like vitamin A, sometimes even referred to as a ‘skin vitamin’ and found in diary products, fish, carrots, green leafy vegetables, mangoes and papaya. The B-complex vitamins aid blood circulation, help build and repair body’s cells and produce resilient skin. Vitamin C, which is essential for the formation and maintenance of collagen, contributes to the firmness and elasticity of the skin. It also ‘speeds’ healing processes and strengthens immunity. All fresh vegetables and fruits are a great source of these vitamins, particularly if eaten raw. Vitamin E, found in nuts, improves blood circulation and prevents harmful oxidation of fats by increasing oxygen supply to cells and tissues. It also plays an important role in transport, absorption and storage of vitamin A in the body.

Water has its undoubted value in maintaining healthy skin as well, since it helps remove all unwanted toxic substances from our body. A habit to drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day will keep your skin free of wrinkles, lines and blackheads at the same time keeping it well-hydrated and revitalised.

Last but not least: regular exercise is proved to be beneficial for our skin too as it stimulates blood flow to our skin, improving cells nutrition and giving it a healthy glow. Moreover, regular exercising helps better skin tone and maintain its elasticity and suppleness.

External care
This includes cleansing, moisturizing and protection of skin from the so-called triple ‘S’ foes: sun, smoking and stress. A regular bath or shower with soap, suitable for your type of skin, and water are the first line of defense against skin problems. Though soap easily removes grease and dirt from skin’s surface, its overuse can deprive your skin of its natural oils and also affect its pH levels, leaving it irritated and vulnerable for bacterial invasion. In this case, it is advisable to switch to a pH-balanced soap or mild foaming cleanser. Lotion cleansers and cleansing milk cut through makeup and dirt better than soaps, just remember to remove all traces with plain water and apply a moisturizer, optimally suitable for your skin type, to prevent dryness.

Summer also gives us great opportunity to nourish and improve our skin condition with the help of natural masks made of seasonal fresh fruits and veggies.

- Masks, prepared from fresh strawberries, perfectly cleanse and nourish dry skin, at the same time improving complexion. De-seed the berries and grate the mass into a paste and apply to the face for 20 to 25 minutes, rinse.· A cucumber mask not only cleanses and revitalises your skin, but it also works as a natural bleaching agent. Have it grated, wrap in a clean muslin cloth and apply to the skin. People with aging, dull skin can benefit from this mask as well.

- Masks prepared from carrots can work wonders with tightening of pores and moisturising your facial skin. Grate two carrots (choose light-red ones, to avoid skin colorisation), add a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil, and one egg yolk. Apply the mask on the face; after 20 to 25 minutes carefully remove it with a cotton ball or with the help of warm water. Adding an apple to the mask will enhance its moisturizing effect.

- A fresh tomato mask, applied to the face for half an hour, will help ‘lift’ and improve the tone of tired and dehydrated skin.

When selecting any skincare products, pay special attention to their consistency. Even if you have dry skin, the consistency of your summer creams should be light. It should be quickly absorbed when applied, not leaving a greasy shine on the skin and causing pore jamming. Creams and tonics that are based on extracts of seaweed, green tea, grapefruit juice, are particularly good for morning application in hot weather. They provide a complex action of toning, nourishing, moisturizing and protecting our skin from toxins.

Also remember that by protecting yourself from the sun, refraining from smoking and keeping stress to the minimum, you can prevent skin aging, pigmentation and blemishes long before they appear.

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