Sun, smoking, sugar, stress, and sleep deprivation are truly the five main issues in the skin care world. Read on and discover how these five issues affect the skin.
We all know to use a sunblock that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. But what kind of damage do these rays do? UVA rays are a major factor in skin aging (A=age). UVA radiation is constant and present all year. UVB rays lead to burns (B=burn). The amount of UVB varies with the season and is most intense in the summer. Skin color changes are an indicator of exposure to UVB: freckles, tans and burns. The effects of UVA damage is cumulative and shows up later as wrinkles, skin laxity, and texture changes.
If your skin has many moles, sun exposure may be a factor in the development of these. Generally, the more moles you have, the more likely one can become cancerous.
Midday sun is more damaging. Dark skin is not necessarily protective from damage. A tan or a burn are both indicative of damage from UVB. The UV index is a measure of how damaging the sun can be. Higher elevation and summer season are usually higher risk. Don't forget to protect your skin with sunscreen daily!
How does smoking directly affect the skin? Even with the knowledge we now have about the harmful effects of nicotine, it seems to be as popular as ever with the proliferation of flavored electronic cigarettes. Smoking is a bad and addictive habit. With its attendant mouth motion, it can create indelible lines right where you don't want them-on the upper lip. The heat from each inhalation creates squinting and eventual crow's feet, not to mention blackheads. Nicotine restricts blood flow and oxygen from reaching the skin, depriving the tissues of necessary nutrients that keep it looking youthful. The results are dull, grey and tar-stained skin. It also leaches vitamin C from the body to affect tone, elasticity and the general immune system. This can have serious consequences. According to the American Cancer Society, people who smoke are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), especially around the lips.
When we consume sugar in all its forms, particularly refined sugar, it attaches itself very quickly to proteins and fats in our bodies. The really bad news is that sugar has a particular affiliation for your skin. It may cause stiffening of connective tissue, inflammation, wrinkles and sagging.
If you add poor lifestyle to the mix-smoking, prolonged stress, UV exposure, drug use, lack of exercise and poor diet-then you have the perfect storm. Even in younger people, too much sugar can wreak havoc with the skin to cause acne and multiple breakouts.
Eliminating all sugars from our diet is not advisable either. Complex carbohydrates supply much needed glucose to fuel cellular activity throughout the body and particularly in the skin. However, we can eliminate certain foods to help the skin retain some of its natural youthfulness and tone. These would include refined sugars, white bread and simple carbohydrates in general, with the worst culprit of all being high fructose corn syrup.
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. We all experience varying levels at different times and in many situations.
Hormones, neuropeptides and other signaling molecules released during stressful times may be second only to sunlight in aging the skin. The really bad news is that stress can cause sagging of the skin. Women are more prone than men. That means wrinkling, loss of tone and increased levels of sensitivity, particularly as women age. Additionally, proteins and DNA in the epidermis and dermis are broken down by prolonged periods of stress. This breakdown can cause acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema and hives.
It is unrealistic to imagine we can ever live a stress-free life. A certain level of stress is normal and manageable. We can commit to developing coping skills that maintain balance, even at the worst of life's moments.
Finally, we can't discuss stress without talking about sleep and more importantly, sleep deprivation. Not only does sleep deprivation lead to increased stress, but it also detracts from the skin's natural beauty. Increased inflammatory cells in the body lead to an increase in the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, the molecules that give the skin its healthy glow. This can lead to rosacea, acne, hives and dryness. It also throws off the body's ability to regulate the immune system, which leads not only to getting sick more often, but also to flares of immune-related skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema.
While you're sleeping, the body's hydration rebalances. Skin is able to recover moisture, while excess water in the body is processed for removal. Not getting enough sleep results in poor water balance, leading to puffy bags under your eyes and under-eye circles, as well as dryness and more visible wrinkles. During deep sleep, the rise in growth hormones allows damaged cells to become repaired. Without the deeper phases of sleep, this won't occur, allowing daily small breakdowns to accumulate instead of being reversed overnight. This results in more wrinkles.
Conventional wisdom suggests that eight hours of sleep is the right amount. Some people can manage on six or seven. You need to decide what works best for you and your skin.
What can you do to keep your skin looking its best?
Be aware of these five areas and work to change any habits that may be unhealthy for your skin.
Lakewood Laser offers many treatments for skin rejuvenation, acne, rosacea, and other issues. We also offer Epionce products to help you keep your skin looking good all the time.
Contact Petra or Terri at 303.202.0907 today to set up a consultation to get your skin looking it's best!