The skin is undeniably the largest organ of our body, covering an area of about 20 square feet. It deserves our undivided attention since it is critical to our overall health and well-being.
One of the most important functions of the skin is to shield our body from harmful pollutants and foreign bodies. In addition, it helps to regulate body temperature and permits the sensation of touch.
On a daily basis, our skin is exposed to pollutants and harmful UV rays, leaving our skin weak and damaged over time. According to reports, UV rays account for around 90 percent of skin damage.
Effects of UV rays
The sun emits three types of UV rays – UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation. UVC radiation has the shortest wavelength and is almost completely absorbed by the ozone layer in the atmosphere. This means that UVC does not have much impact on most people.
UVB rays is the culprit for damaging the outermost layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis. UVB rays are the strongest between 10am and 2pm when the sunlight is at its brightest.
On the other hand, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin layers, damaging and altering the state of the dermis.
Both UVA and UVB can cause skin abnormalities such as wrinkles, pigmentation, and even skin cancer. The harmful UV rays degrade the skin by breaking down the collagen and increasing the formation of free radicals, interfering with DNA repair at the cellular level.
Doctors have found that UV rays accelerates the breakdown of collagen in the skin, leading to premature wrinkling and sagging of the skin. The increase of free radicals can alter the genetic makeup of the skin, which may develop into skin cancer.
Protect yourself from the sun
Protecting your skin from the sun is probably the most important takeaway from this skincare guide. Regardless of your race or age, our skin degrades the same way if we expose our skin to the sun.
While it is true that dark-skinned people tend to have better natural protection against the sun compared to fair-skinned people, everyone will benefit from a good sunscreen.
The FDA recommends a broad-spectrum coverage that is at least rated SPF 15. However, Dr. Siew recommends SPF 50 sunscreen for a better protection against UVB rays. SPF, or better known as Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of how the percentage of protection of UVB rays. SPF 50 blocks about 98 percent of UVB rays.
There is currently no proper measure of how effective a sunscreen is against UVA rays. Hence, a broad-spectrum sunscreen is recommended for an overall protection of UVA and UVB rays.
Smoking makes your skin dull and unattractive. It also contributes to premature aging with early signs of wrinkles and pigmentation. Smokers generally look dull because smoking reduces tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of the skin, decreasing blood flow and circulation to the rest of the body, including the face.
Smoking also compromises the production of collagen and elastin fibers in the skin.
The best way to drastically improve your overall skin health is to stop smoking and quit the habit. Seek a consultation with a doctor to work out a plan to kick the habit.
Moisturize your skin
The dermis of the skin is made up of about 70 percent water. In order to keep your skin plump and healthy, you need to moisturize your skin daily.
Take some time to explore and put together a complete range of skincare products that suit your skin type. Choose a gentle facial wash that thoroughly cleans your face but does not dry the skin by stripping off essential oils on your face.
Pick a lightweight moisturizer that balances the level of water in the skin without leaving a thick layer of grease on the skin surface.
Improve collagen and elastin levels
Skin aging is caused by the lack of collagen and elastin in the skin. One way to reverse signs of aging is to restore the collagen and elastin levels in the skin to achieve a firmer, tighter texture with less wrinkles.
Ultherapy, an FDA-approved non-invasive procedure, works by targeting the deep layers of the skin to produce skin contraction for lifting and collagen production for long-term anti-aging effects.
In fact, Ultherapy is increasingly becoming the procedure of choice for non-surgical face lift treatment in Singapore.
Diet and exercise
The proverbial saying ‘You are what you eat’ is the notion that to stay healthy, you need to eat selectively and avoid eating junk food.
To help your skin in the long run, you need to start thinking about what food you put in your mouth. A diet with good quality lean protein, fiber, nuts, fruits, and vegetables is best for supporting healthy skin. These foods contain good quality amino acids, which are essential for building a foundation of firm, youthful skin.
Exercise slows cell aging. Maintaining an active lifestyle reduces the aging process. Working out a sweat helps to reduce inflammation in the body, regulates hormones and prevents free radical damage.
Engaging in endurance training means better blood circulation, allowing more nutrients in the blood to reach the skin’s surface and deliver nutrients to repair damage from the sun and other environmental pollutants.
Always remember that what works for your friends may not work for you. Take some time to explore and tweak your lifestyle habits and skincare routine to find what suits you most. Stay vigilant and make adjustments every couple of years as your skin changes.