I was talking to two ladies in my clinic. One had flawless skin, looked young and beautiful at the age of 35. The other lady had an uneven skin tone, wrinkles, pigmentation, under eye bags and looked 45. While talking to them, I found out that they were twins. So why the difference? The one who looked 25 at the age of 35 followed a healthy diet, exercised, did not smoke, drank rarely , used a sunblock always and took care of her skin. The other lady was a chronic smoker and drank often. She ate a lot of junk food and never took proper care of her skin.
Skin is the largest organ of the body. It is made up of the outer epidermis & inner dermis. The epidermis has a number of layers of cells called keratinocytes & pigment cells called melanocytes. The dermis contains blood vessels, sebaceous or oil glands, sweat glands, nerves; all of which are bound together by elastin & collagen fibres. Factors like pollution, sun rays, stress, irregular food habits, smoking, drinking alcohol and inadequate sleep contribute to skin damage, eczemas, allergies & premature aging of skin.
Basic skin care does not involve use of expensive cosmetics and toiletries. One just has to follow a very simple regimen for skin care. While, this may sound obvious, it’s surprising to see how many people ignore such simple steps, that could lead to a great skin.
Diet: A diet rich in proteins, high fibre, antioxidants and low glycemic index does wonders for the skin. All brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. One should avoid too much sugar, processed dairy products (except yogurt), alcohol, preserved food & smoking. 2 litres of water keeps the skin hydrated.
Exercise: About 30 minutes of aerobics, walking, jogging or cycling at least five times a week is essential for a healthy skin. Exercise increases circulation and the flow of nutrients to your skin.
Sleep : Regular sleep optimizes the natural secretion of human growth hormone to promote cell turnover and collagen production. It also prevents formation of dark circles.
Stress busters : Activities like yoga and meditation help keep stress in check, which reduces the release of stress hormones that worsen conditions like hair fall, eczema, rosacea etc.
Sun Protection: UVA & UVB rays could be harsh on the skin. Apart from sun tan, one may develop sun allergies, increased pigmentation, freckles, premature aging & even skin cancers. It is important to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 or higher, even on cloudy days, and re-apply every two to three hours if you are outdoors. People with oily skin should use a gel based sunscreen to prevent clogging of pores & formation of blackheads or whiteheads.
Steps to Daily skin care: Cleansing, toning(optional), moisturizing, protection from UV rays.
The surface of the skin contains oil, dead cells, sweat, grime, dirt, grease & pollutants. If this is not removed, the skin looks dull. Cleansing is an important part of skin care. Use warm water to loosen dirt and clogged pores. Use a dime-sized bit of cleanser, then rinse with cool or lukewarm water. At bedtime, make sure to take off your makeup with a proper makeup remover. Avoid bar soaps as they tend to dry out the skin. Choose a creamy cleanser if you have dry skin & a clear cleanser if you have oily skin. Be careful not to cleanse too often as this will alter the pH of the skin and cause dryness.
Toners are meant to remove all remaining traces of oil, makeup and dirt. Only those with oily skin need to use toners. Avoid toners in winter.
For the skin to look healthy & glowing, its uppermost layer called stratum corneum should contain more than 10% of the total water content of the body. Thus, comes the role of a moisturizer. People with dry to normal skin should use a moisturizer twice a day after cleansing. Those with oily skin should use an oil free moisturizer once a day. A moisturizer should be applied on a moist skin surface in order to trap the moisture in the skin.
Many so-called anti-wrinkle, rejuvenating and cell renewal creams are essentially, just good moisturizers. They reduce flakiness by making the stratum corneum cells stick together and make the skin appear smoother by plumping up the cells. The smoother surface also allows more light to be reflected, so the skin looks brighter and less dull
It’s not too late to start your skin care now!
Dr Jaishree Sharad is a renowned cosmetic dermatologist practicing in Mumbai. She is the Vice President of the Cosmetic Dermatology Society of India & a consultant to many of the Bollywood fraternity. Follow her @jaishreesharad