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Skin Care explained
Top 5 habits for healthy skin
Your busy lifestyle leaves little time for pampering skin care. The
result: Your skin isn't the baby-soft body glove you were born with. As
you age, your skin gradually becomes thinner and finely wrinkled.
Oil-producing (sebaceous) glands grow less active, leaving your skin
drier. The number of blood vessels in your skin decreases, your skin
becomes more fragile, and you lose your youthful color and glow.
Good skin care - such as avoiding the sun, washing your skin gently and
applying moisturizer regularly - can help delay the natural aging process
and prevent many skin problems. These simple skin-care habits will help
you protect your skin to keep it healthy and glowing for years to come.
1. Protect yourself from the sun
The most important way to take care of your skin is to protect it from the
sun. Ultraviolet light - the invisible but intense rays from the sun -
damages your skin, causing deep wrinkles, dry, rough skin, liver spots,
and more serious disorders, such as noncancerous (benign) and cancerous
(malignant) skin tumors. In fact, most of the changes seen in aging skin
are actually caused by a lifetime of sun exposure.
For the most complete sun protection, use all three of these methods:
Avoid the sun during high-intensity hours. The sun's rays are most
damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reduce the time you spend outdoors during
Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with clothing, such as
long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. Also, keep in mind
that certain clothing styles and fabrics offer better protection from the
sun than do others. For example, long-sleeved shirts offer better
protection than short-sleeved shirts do. And tightly woven fabrics such as
denim are better than are loosely woven fabrics such as knits. Several
companies now make sun protective clothing (SPF clothing), which is specifically designed to block out ultraviolet rays while keeping you cool
Use sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection
factor (SPF) greater than 15. Apply liberally 20 minutes before going
outdoors and reapply every two hours, after heavy sweating or after being
2. Don't smoke
Smoking accelerates aging of your skin and increases wrinkles. Skin
changes from smoking can appear in young adults after 10 years of smoking.
Smoking causes narrowing of the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers
of skin. This decreases blood flow, depleting the skin of oxygen and
nutrients, such as vitamin A, that are important to skin health. All of
these factors increase damage to the elastic fibers (elastin) and
collagen, which give your skin strength and elasticity.
In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking -
such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep
out smoke - may contribute to wrinkles. It's also possible that repeated
exposure to the heat from burning cigarettes may damage your facial skin
3. Wash your skin gently
Cleansing is an essential part of caring for your skin. The key is to
treat your skin gently.
Use warm water and limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths
remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time to about 15
minutes or less, and use warm, rather than hot, water.
Avoid strong soaps. Strong soaps - those most capable of stripping oil
from your skin - can leave your skin dry. Instead, choose mild soaps or
detergent substitutes with added oils and fats. Good choices include Dove,
Vanicream, Cetaphil and Purpose.
Avoid irritating additives. If your skin is sensitive, avoid products
containing perfumes or dyes. These can irritate your skin and may trigger
an allergic response.
Remove eye makeup carefully. Use a soft sponge, cotton cloth or cotton
balls when removing eye makeup to avoid damaging the delicate tissue
around your eyes. If you wear heavy, waterproof makeup, you may need to
use an oil-based product, such as Eucerin, Aquaphor or petroleum jelly, to
Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a
towel so that some moisture remains on the skin. Immediately moisturize
your skin with an oil or cream.
4. Moisturize regularly
Moisturizers help maintain your skin's natural moisture levels. They work
by providing a seal over your skin - to keep water from escaping - or by
slowly releasing water into your skin.
The moisturizer that's best for you and the frequency with which you need
to moisturize depend on many factors, including your skin type, your age
and whether you have specific conditions such as acne. A good way to test
if you need a moisturizer is to wait 20 minutes after bathing. If your
skin feels tight, you should apply a moisturizer.
Select a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15 to help protect your skin
from damaging ultraviolet rays. If you have sensitive skin, look for
products free of heavy dyes, perfumes or other additives. If your skin is
very dry, you may want to apply an oil, such as baby oil, while your skin
is still moist. Oil has more staying power than moisturizers do and
prevents the evaporation of water from the surface of your skin. If your
skin is oily, you may want to skip moisturizing.
5. Shave carefully
Shaving is a common and inexpensive way to remove unwanted hair. But
shaving can cause skin irritations, especially if your skin is thin, dry
or very sensitive. For a smooth shave:
Press a warm wash cloth on your skin before shaving to soften the hair. Or
shave after a warm bath or shower.
Don't shave dry skin, which can cause razor burn. Apply shaving cream,
lotion or gel before shaving to protect and lubricate your skin.
Use a clean, sharp razor. If using an electric razor, don't use the
closest setting, which can aggravate the skin.
Shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it.
Rinse your skin afterward with warm water.
If irritation does occur, apply a lotion that doesn't contain ethyl or
isopropyl alcohol. Though alcohol and alcohol-based products may feel
cooling, they don't really soothe irritated skin because the alcohol
evaporates rapidly from the skin.
Also called: Pimples, Zits
Acne is a common skin disease that causes pimples. Pimples form when hair
follicles under your skin clog up. Most pimples form on the face, neck,
back, chest and shoulders. Anyone can get acne, but it is common in
teenagers and young adults. It is not serious, but it can cause scars.
No one knows exactly what causes acne. Hormone changes, such as those
during the teenage years and pregnancy, probably play a role. There are
many myths about what causes acne. Chocolate and greasy foods are often
blamed, but there is little evidence that foods have much effect on acne
in most people. Another common myth is that dirty skin causes acne;
however, blackheads and pimples are not caused by dirt. Stress doesn't
cause acne, but stress can make it worse.
If you have acne
Clean your skin gently
Try not to touch your skin
Avoid the sun
Treatments for acne include medicines and creams.