OUR skin and its append-ages, hair and nails, are the first features that are perceived by any person dealing with us, so they have a profound impact on the impression we make on others. Texture, gloss and colour of the skin participate in reflecting a person’s health and physical beauty.
Thus, caring for a healthy skin is not only important from an aesthetic point of view, but also helps maintaining self esteem, positive mental attitude and self confidence.
Healthy skin does not depend upon regular usage of a plethora of often costly cosmetic preparations, as advertisements of the beauty industry would like us to believe. Nor is there a need for obsessive
skin-care routines, as some spas and beauty parlours tend to suggest.
In fact, the skin may suffer harm from over-enthusiastic cleansing and grooming. Healthy skin is much more the outcome of a healthy lifestyle.
Which are the main the factors that affect the health of skin, hair and nails?
Nutrition: In particular vitamins A, E and C as well as biotin and beta-carotene improve the texture of skin, hair and nails. A balanced diet with a focus on dairy products, cereals, vegetables, salad and fruits contains usually sufficient amounts of these substances. Reduce the intake of red meat in favour of fish and poultry. High amounts of sugar are not only generally unhealthy but can also be harmful for the quality of skin.
Adequate hydration by drinking sufficient amounts of water, fruit juices and/or tea helps to provide elasticity of the skin. Soft drinks should be avoided. Average daily intake is recommended to be 2 to 2 ½ litres (of which approximately one litre is already supplied by cooked food, soups, fruits etc.).
If staying under the sun, doing hard work or sports, the amount of necessary fluid goes up. The sometimes propagated excessive intake of water has no scientific base.
Stress: Being stressed can reflect on the integrity of the skin. Prolonged tension, anger or anxiety can be detrimental to good health in general and healthy skin in particular. Moreover, there are a number of diseases like psoriasis, eczema or urticaria which present more often and more severe under stress.
Exercise: Engaging in almost any kind of regular sports causes increased blood flow to the skin, providing a better and healthier complexion. Exercise is also a good stress reliever.
Sleep: The right amount of sleep differs from person to person and at different ages but six to eight hours of restful sleep is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin.
Alcohol and drugs: Exaggerated intake of alcohol and the use of drugs may harm the skin by blocking proper nutrient absorption as well as by interfering with normal sleep-habits.
Proper morning routine: Cleanse and moisturise (and in some cases: exfoliate and tone) - this daily routine helps to preserve the beauty of facial skin. Select a skin cleansing solution that corresponds with your specific skin type (normal, dry, and oily). Treat face in a circular motion and rinse with cool or lukewarm water, as hot water causes dry skin.
Follow the cleansing with an exfoliant if your skin is rough and uneven. A granular product is especially effective in releasing dead skin cells, allowing the face to be better moisturised and circulated. After the exfoliation, use a toner or an astringent to tighten skin.
Finally, pat skin dry with a soft towel. Apply a water-based moisturiser (which can be combined with a sunscreen) to help protect skin from dryness. Those with oily skin do not have to moisturise as often as those who have dry, normal or combination skin.
Sunscreen: Sunscreens are available in many different textures. They protect the skin from sun damage and thus help to reduce skin cancer, ageing and wrinkles. In a tropical country like Cambodia, a product with at least sun protection factor (SPF) 30-40 should be used on a daily basis.
Dermatological treatment: Any problems and diseases presenting on the skin should be treated in time by a dermatologist in order to avoid more extensive damage later on. This is particularly important in pigmented lesions undergoing change in terms of growth, increased pigmentation, bleeding and itching.
Dr Bendick is a German dermatologist and consultant who works for International SOS Medical Services, and is a senior adviser to the University of Health Sciences.