We all want healthy, clear skin that has that dewy glow, but, for most of us, this isn’t the easiest task to achieve. In fact, our skin is an actual organ in our body — the largest one at that — and one that happens to be on the outside of our body for all to see. Being that it is a living, breathing organ, it is susceptible to a myriad of changes as a result of everything from our immune system and emotions to our activity level and our outside environment.
Although we often correlate skin health with beauty, the main purpose of our skin is actually to protect the body from external factors such as chemicals, bacteria, physical injury, and temperature, explains Shannon Irene, bi-coastal esthetician. “Skin health is essential, as it can not only protect the body’s internal organs, but it also can be very telling, as internal health issues and concerns often surface and show through our skin to let us know what may be happening within our body,” she says.
Unfortunately, many of us feel very out of control of our skin health and may suffer from one or more skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis. Many of these are caused or at least influenced by our genetics as well as aging. While we can’t control our genetics or pause the stopwatch on aging, there are many factors within our control that can influence the health of our skin. In fact, some of the people we look up to for having healthy, glowing skin, practice very specific skincare and lifestyle regimens that help boost their skin’s vitality.
Here, dermatologists and skincare professionals share the most common habits of people with a healthy skin glow.
Meet the Experts
Shannon Irene is a bi-coastal esthetician.
Mary Alice Mina, M.D., is an Atlanta-based dermatologist and Mohs surgeon.
Anna Chacon, M.D., is a Miami-based dermatologist.
Lian Mack, M.D., is an NYC-based dermatologist at GlamDerm.
1. They wash their face twice daily
If washing your face is already part of your skincare routine, you’re on the right track, but just how often you wash your face matters. Most dermatologists agree that you should be washing your face twice daily — once in the morning and once at night — but not more than this, as over-washing can strip your skin of its natural oils and actually push its oil creation into overdrive. This can lead to greasier and more acne-prone skin — the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish by cleansing.
2. They exfoliate once or twice weekly
In addition to basic cleansing, Irene recommends incorporating some form of exfoliating to help slough off dead skin cells and encourage skin cell turnover. “Based on your skin type you may use a physical exfoliating scrub or for more sensitive skin you may choose a mild chemical exfoliant a few times a week to help with skin cell turnover,” she adds.
3. They drink lots of water
Our bodies are made up of 60 percent water, per the U.S. Geological Survey, so it’s understandable that we should be drinking quite a lot of it to keep up with our bodily needs. Our skin, too, requires hydration in order to maintain its health and suppleness. “A hydrated skin barrier will keep your skin glowing and protected,” says Mary Alice Mina, M.D., Atlanta-based dermatologist and Mohs surgeon. Aim for about 2.7 liters a day for women and about 3.7 liters for men, as recommended by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
4. They stay out of the sun
Kicking back and relaxing on the beach or by a pool might feel nice, but that exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays is not good for your skin. “Not only will you look and feel better by avoiding sun exposure, but you will do your part in preventing skin cancers like basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanomas,” says Dr. Mina. She recommends seeking shade whenever possible and protecting your skin with a hat and long-sleeved clothing when outdoors.
5. They use sunscreen regularly
Even if you’re mostly indoors, Anna Chacon, M.D., a Miami-based dermatologist, recommends applying sunscreen and choosing a sunscreen with a broad-spectrum sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays, that has an SPF of at least 30. Bonus points if the sunscreen is water resistant, as this can help ensure it doesn’t wipe off easily if you’re sweating or plan on swimming.
6. They eat a nutrient-rich diet
There’s no denying the fact that eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is good for you, but few of us realize the benefits it provides for our body’s largest organ: our skin. Vitamin C, which is found naturally in fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes, is necessary for the production of collagen, a structural protein that our body makes less and less of as we age, per research published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for skin health and can be found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation that can leave you more prone to breakouts.
7. They skin cycle
Skin cycling is a recent trend that describes the cycling or application of different skincare products over a 4-night duration. “During the 4-night cycle, after cleansing and gently patting dry, you either apply an exfoliating product, retinol or a moisturizer,” says Lian Mack, M.D., NYC-based dermatologist at GlamDerm. “The last step is extended for two nights to give the skin a chance to repair itself from the effects of night 1 and 2.”
8. They supplement when needed
“Taking supplements daily to help maintain levels of vitamin D and zinc in the body will help regulate the immune system and help lessen inflammation and contributing signs of aging,” says Irene. She also suggests a probiotic to many clients, gut-health issues can surface in the skin. “Probiotics balance the bacteria levels in the stomach and gut and can help lessen breakouts and yeast in the skin,” she says. As a precaution, it’s a good idea to discuss any supplements you intend on taking with your healthcare provider to make sure they’re conducive to your overall health and do not have any contraindications with any medications you may be taking.
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