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Monday, September 13, 2010

Super Skin Essentials

People often think of their skin as a utilitarian covering that holds all of the important stuff inside the body. In reality, the skin itself is the largest organ of the body and functions as quite a work horse. Because of daily exposure to the elements and the repercussions of some of things people put into and do to their bodies, skin requires a little TLC from time to time.

While it's not necessary to spend an inordinate amount of time on your skin care routine, it's important to take care of your skin, just as you would any other part of your body. Here are some great tips for keeping your skin healthy and happy.

1. Cleanse - No big shock here. In order to keep anything looking great, you need to keep it clean (unless, of course, you're going for a nice patina, but I'm guessing that's not the goal you had in mind for your skin!). The biggest thing to consider here is what you use to cleanse. Soaps and cleansers with harsh chemicals and loads of synthetic additives (including fragrances and dyes) can not only irritate the skin, they can also strip it of its natural (healthy) oils and cause damage. I'm a huge proponent of products that contain ingredients that I can both pronounce and find naturally occurring in our environment (vs. being formulated or produced in a lab). That being said, you need to be careful even with "all natural" cleansers. Essential oils and herbs are not all created equal and are not automatically safe for everyone. Be sure to consult a professional if you are pregnant, nursing, using the product on children, are allergic to certain ingredients, or have underlying health conditions.

2. Take a break - The entire body is capable of showing signs of stress, including your skin. When the body doesn't get enough rest, it shows. Not just in your facial expressions or tone of voice, but in the texture and color of your skin. Remember to take some "me time" every day and your skin will thank you for it!

3. Get Your Groove On - Exercise is not only key for weight loss and energy release, it's also crucial for keeping that healthy glow. When we exercise, our bodies work to flush our pores, fight acne, and increase collagen production. For those questioning the acne piece, stress increases the level of certain hormones in our bodies which can be linked to problems with acne. The endorphines released with exercise help to decrease stress, which leads to a decrease in the release of these acne influencing hormones.

4. Water, Water, Water - While good nutrition is obviously recommended, being well hydrated is essential for maintaining a soft, supple complexion. It also helps to plump the skin, which naturally helps to decrease the appearance of fine lines!

5. Nutrition - Hand in hand with adequate hydration is the importance of good nutrition. Your body is a function of the fuel you give it, including your skin. Good fuel in equals optimal performance!

6. Quality Sleep - Our bodies do most of their recovery at night as we sleep. The importance of adequate quantities of quality sleep cannot be understated!

7. Sunblock - Nowadays, it goes without saying that sun exposure is damaging to the skin. According to researchers, it takes a minimum of SPF15 to really benefit the skin. While using sunscreen is advisable, using a quality sunblock is even better. Sunblock provides broad spectrum coverage against both UVA and UVB rays, sunscreen does not.

8. Exfoliate - We lose startling numbers of dead skin cells daily. If not whisked away, they can clog pores and make a mess of our skin. Gentle exfoliation, either with a product designed for such a task or by gently buffing the skin with a face cloth will help to clear the surface of your skin and keep pores clean.

* There are many ways to ensure good skin and a clear complexion. This list is not intended to be exclusive, nor is it intended as advice for the prevention, treatment, cure, or diagnosis of any skin or other medical conditions. As always, follow with a qualified health professional if you have any unusual issues related to your overall health.


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