Your skin is your body’s largest organ and performs many jobs essential to your health. It needs your help to keep it (and you!) in optimal functioning condition.
YOUR SKIN: MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE
EIGHT JOBS YOUR SKIN ROUTINELY PERFORMS
1. Protective barrier. Keeps out unfriendly viruses, bacteria, and fungus and yeast infections.
2. Water-resistant barrier. Keeps essential nutrients and fluids from being washed out.
3. Sensation. Contains the nerve endings that let you know things like: this stove is hot, it’s time to put a sweater on, there’s an ant crawling up your leg, ouch! that hurts.
4. Heat regulation. Contains blood vessels that dilate to increase heat loss or constrict to conserve it. Also has about two million sweat glands—another important way to prevent you from over-heating.
5. Storage. Stores fatty acids and water.
6. Synthesis. Creates Vitamin D, using the action of the sun’s ultraviolet rays on certain skin areas (even if you use 35+ SPF to block harmful rays).
7. Excretion. Removes urea water (also excreted in urine) and salt that the body doesn’t need.
8. Communication. Changes its appearance to communicate your feelings and also the state of your health. These changes can give doctors clues to disease processes that may be happening within your body.
PROTECT YOUR SKIN
• Use a 35+ SPF sunblock on your face and the backs of your hands to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays (broad spectrum) daily, all year round. Note: Physical blockers such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are best.
• Wash your face twice a day in cool or lukewarm water.
• Avoid hot water when you shower. It dries and can damage both skin and hair.
• Exfoliate your face at least 4 times a week. If your skin is sensitive, find a gentler exfoliater. Use it on the rest of your body at least twice a week.
• Wear gloves in cold weather to prevent dryness and cracking.
• Use lip balm (preferably with SPF) in strong sun and/or dry air.
• Use a good humidifier if you suffer from dry, itchy skin in the winter.
• Unless your skin is acne-prone, use a cream-based moisturizer (preferably with SPF) for maximum moisture retention. Cream-based moisturizers are more effective than gels, oils, or water-based moisturizers.
• Moisturize your face before you go to bed and before you put on makeup in the morning.
• Ingest water in liquids (milk, juice, etc.), fruits and veggies—helps keep your skin moist and your cells better able to take in nutrients and get rid of toxins.
FOODS TO FEED YOUR FACE
• Strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, sweet potatoes for vitamin C, an anti-aging vitamin, essential for the production of collagen.
• Extra-virgin olive oil, for softer skin, anti-oxidants, reducing inflammation.
• Almonds, peanut butter, broccoli, for vitamin E, a good sun blocker.
• Carrots, for vitamin A for overproduction of cells in the skin’s outer layer. May help reduce development of skin cancer. Milk (1 cup) and cheddar cheese (1 slice) are good substitutes.
• Dark chocolate for flavanol antioxidants, for better skin texture and stronger resistance to UV sun rays. Cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries—also work, but you have to eat an awful lot of them. (Damn. Guess you’ll just have to eat that chocolate.)
• Flaxseeds or oil (with sautéed veggies), salmon, walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids that deliver better hydration and reduced redness and irritation.
• Safflower oil, for omega-6 fatty acids, the ultimate moisturizer for painfully dry skin.
• Spinach, to help plump up skin, may also reduce likelihood of cancer-cell growth.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW
• An average adult’s skin weights 8 to 10 pounds, and covers an area of about 22 square feet.
• Your sweat glands are located all over your body, except inside your ears, and on your lips and genitals.
• Your skin loses about 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells almost every minute.
• Your skin renews itself every 28 days.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Amy Wolthoff, dermatologist.
For more information:
• en.wikipedia.org - Sweat glands info
• skinfocused.com -healthy skin care regimen
• health.com - vitamin C fruits and vegetables for anti-aging
• womenshealthmag.com - foods for healthy skin
• austin360.com - Sweat glands info