The skin is our largest organ. It's primary purpose is keeping precious elements and nutrients inside the body, and harmful substances (and potentially infectious organisms) outside it. Much more complicated than a shield, the skin has several layers and its own immune system . Collagen and elastin are the primary proteins that give skin its structure and elasticity. When these begin to become depleted, signs of aging appear.
As we age, molecules called free radicals cause oxidative stress, analogous to “rusting” of our cells. To make matters worse, our ability to protect our cells against this oxidative stress decreases as we get older. The good news is that although we can’t stop the clock, we can make changes that can help us slow the aging process.
It's what's inside that counts. What we put in (or on) our bodies will significantly affect our appearance. Below are some of the best things you can do to promote healthy and lustrous skin.
Increasing your water intake is paramount to clear and beautiful skin. Aim to drink 64 ounces of water daily to boost detoxification and promote a more youthful appearance. Adding fresh fruit and/or lemon juice to your watercan help add some flavor and make you more likely to drink enough throughout the day.
It's the best way to get your antioxidants while nourishing and protecting skin cells. We can increase antioxidants—substances that remove or inactivate dangerous free radicals—through eating an abundance of healthy colorful vegetables, fruits, and certain herbs and spices. The brighter and more colorful a plant is, the more likely it is to have have important antioxidant phytochemicals.
Moisturization is key. Apply moisturizer (oil, cream, or lotion) to damp skin after a bath or shower to help lock in moisture. Adding essential oils such as unscented coconut or jojoba oil can be a great aromatherapy experience, as well.
If your hands are frequently in water or you suffer from dry hands, try using a thick ointment or cream under cotton gloves overnight to help relieve the dryness. When using rubber gloves, wear cotton gloves underneath, to avoid irritation.
Natural substances can also have medicinal effects. A small clinical trial showed a statistically significant improvement in atopic dermatitis (eczema) lesions after application of Manuka honey applied overnight after 1 week without any adverse effects.
The body produces its own antioxidant substances, such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Look for topical creams, oils, and lotions that contain these powerful youth-boosting molecules.
Apply sunscreen daily or use a facial moisturizer containing SPF of 30 or higher. This will help you avoid UVA and UVB rays, which cause damage to skin cells, resulting in uneven skin pigmentation and other premature signs of aging.
Natural sunscreens contain ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium oxides. Many products have great additional ingredients to further nourish and protect.
What else should you avoid? The classics: cigarette smoking, alcohol, and excess caffeine. Cigarettes promote inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which wreak havoc on our skin and throughout the body. Alcohol prevents optimal detoxification by the liver and, along with excess caffeine, can cause loss of water and a dehydrated state, which will exacerbate wrinkles.
Unfortunately, many products, even those that advertise as being “natural," also contain chemicals that can be toxic and may disrupt hormones. Some of the ingredients to avoid in personal products include parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, petroleum, triclosan, and oxybenzone.
The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for determining if cosmetics or other personal products are safe.
A self-massage does wonders for your complexion. This simple practice increases bloodflow, and the boost in circulation is what gets you glowing. Other benefits include muscle relief and an increase in collagen production.
Gently dry brushing will help remove dead skin cells, allowing fresh cells to come to the surface. Follow with a warm shower to wash away any toxins.
Collagen is an important building-block for elasticity, and can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Since the body’s natural collagen production declines with age and lifestyle factors such as stress and poor gut health , this can affect the body’s ability to produce adequate amounts of collagen.While it could be useful to take collagen externally, consuming collagen can have even greater health benefits.
To add more collagen to your diet, eat bone broth or a grass-fed and pasture-raised collagen protein powder . Adding foods naturally high in collagen to your diet such as beets, fish, kale, spinach, and sweet potatoes can help as well.
Our hormones have tremendous impacts on skin health. Factors influencing hormones include mindfulness, gratitude, quality sleep , nutrition and exercise. Each of these can have positive effects on skin and overall health. However, emotional stress, alcohol, smoking, excessive sunlight and inadequate or poor quality sleep can all contribute to hormone and skin problems.
If you suspect a hormonal imbalance, it’s best to work with a functional doctor to help you treat the underlying cause(s), create balance, and help you improve your symptoms.
Consult your doctor or dermatologist if you have ongoing or severe skin problems. Practicing all of the recommendations above has only one potential side effect: improving your overall health and not only looking great but feeling great as well!
Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.