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Best Practices

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Dermatologists increasingly accept that our industrialized lifestyles are contributing to the maladies that befall our skin. Diet is large part of this.

Genes do play a significant role in how skin ages. We all know people who’ve been abusing their skin for years and still somehow look great.

Good for them, but that is not most of us. Lifestyle factors are huge.

Never Smoke

Smoking is the single worst thing you can do to your skin.

Avoid even being near smoke – second-hand smoke is also very damaging. Cigarette smoke contains thousands of harmful substances, many of which wreak absolute havoc on the skin. Here is just a sample of some of the negative effects that science says smoking has on skin:

Quick Tip:

Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke, for the sake of your skin and overall health.

Keep Alcohol to a Minimum

There’s no universally agreed-upon “safe” amount of alcohol, but most medical organizations recommend about no more than 6 or 7 drinks a week for women, and a few more than that for men.

What we know for sure is that alcohol is extremely dehydrating. This water loss causes your body to vitamins and nutrients essential for skin health. Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption is associated with lower levels of collagen in skin. It causes dryness and a reduction in elasticity. Alcohol decreases skin’s ability to fight free radical damage by hobbling its ability to utilize antioxidants. The result is even more severe when you add sun exposure.

Alcohol is also often loaded with sugar, which further dehydrates skin and causes even more inflammation. Sugar triggers hormones that send oil production into overdrive, which can increase blackheads and whiteheads and cause other congestion. Inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and rosacea are also made much worse. Over time, alcohol use can cause skin to look dull and grey.

The process of metabolizing alcohol creates free radicals and inflammation. This damages DNA. This often results in loss of mid-face volume, pronounced glabellar lines (the “11’s”), crow’s feet, broken blood vessels, under-eye bags and persistent bloating and puffiness.

Drinking alcohol in the hours before bed also decreases rem sleep (the most restorative kind) which amplifies all alcohol’s already negative effects.

Quick Tip:

Reserve drinking alcohol for special occasions and when you do, drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun and stop drinking several hours before you plan to go to bed to mitigate its damaging effects.

Diet

All evidence suggests that the typical Western diet is very bad for your skin.

Foods naturally rich in antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber nourish our skin from the inside out. Science has repeatedly demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on whole foods, lean protein, and fats from healthy sources, is likely the best diet for our overall health as well as for the appearance of our skin. Diets rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats have been shown repeatedly to do wonders for maintaining healthy, balanced skin, while refined carbs, sugar and other processed foods tend to aggravate conditions like acne and do nothing to promote the skin’s natural microbiome.

Processed foods, particularly those with lots of refined carbohydrates and sugars, cause high glycemic levels and are linked to an increase in acne. Conversely, studies show that those following a low-glycemic diet of whole foods often experience a decrease the incidence of acne.

High glycemic foods also create advanced glycation end products (AGE’s) which attach to collagen in skin and lead to less elasticity. AGE’s cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and free-radical damage. These foods can also prompt the body to overproduce sebum which can lead to acne, clogged pores, and oily skin appearance. Sugar is also very dehydrating.

Another source of ACE’s that accumulate in the body and can damage cells are smoked, grilled, and broiled foods. These cooking processes often contain hydrocarbons and cancer-causing carcinogens that are quite harmful. Opt for foods that are sauteed, roasted and steamed instead.

Quick Tip:

Eating a balanced diet of “real foods” centered around fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins is the best diet for healthy, glowing skin.

Sun Protection

There is no such thing as a healthy tan – that color-change you see is actually a form of skin injury!

Protect your skin from the sun with sunscreen, protective clothing, shade and avoiding too much exposure during the hours of 11am and 3pm, when the UV index is at its highest. Your skin needs daily protection from the sun’s harmful rays whether you’re at the beach, taking a walk or running errands in your car. Nothing will make you look older, faster than the brown spots and premature wrinkles caused by damaging UVA and UVB light.

UV rays wreak havoc on skin’s elastic and collagen tissue, causing premature aging and damaging DNA. Liver spots, thinning, sagging skin, deep lines and wrinkles, and rough, scaly skin patches, are all normal side effects of UV exposure. UV rays can even weaken your immune system.

Incorporate applying a lightweight, clean-label sunscreen into your daily routine the same way you brush your teeth. It should have an SPF of 30 or higher, be water-resistant, and block both UVA and UVB rays. Consider it an insurance policy for your glowing, youthful-looking skin – your older self will thank you.

Quick Tip:

Stay out of the sun as much as you can, and when you can’t, protect yourself with shade, clothing, and sunscreen.

Do Less

As a society we wash our bodies way too much and with harsher products than necessary.

This often results in dry, irritated skin, stripped of it’s healthy, protective microbiome and precious lipids. Then, we slather on all manner of lotions, creams, and other elixirs to alleviate the damage caused by the excessive washing. This is madness! Shower only when you’re dirty and use a mild cleanser only in skin folds (think armpits, groin and between toes). Use warm rather than hot water. Parts of your body such as your arms, legs and torso likely never need soap – warm water washing over them is more than sufficient to rinse off any sweat, sunscreen, pollution, or other substances you collect on them as you go about your day.

If you wear makeup, wash your face with a very gentle cleanser to remove it. If you don’t wear makeup, warm water alone is likely enough to remove sunscreen, excess sebum, and dirt and pollution build-up from the day. Remember that water by itself is an excellent solvent.

Remember that prevention is better than any cure. Using a fresh hand towel washed in hot water without fabric softener will help keep dirt, oil, and dead skin cells off your face. It’s also a good idea to avoid detergent with dyes or fragrances – these can aggravate all skin conditions.

Quick Tip:

Wash yourself less and use a mild cleanser when you do.

Healthy Microbiome

Keep your skin’s microbiome balanced and flourishing.

Rather than stripping your skin every day with soaps, cleansers, exfoliators, and hot water, try to leave your skin be as much
as you can. It flourishes with its base of beneficial bacteria, viruses, and fungi (oh my!) that work in harmony with your skin to protect it and keep its natural processes of oil and sebum production and cell turnover humming along. In fact, wiping out this healthy community of organisms has been shown to exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and eczema and leaves skin more vulnerable to external stressors such as pollution.When the skin barrier isn’t functioning well it will not be able to perform many of the protective jobs it has, such staying hydrated, protecting against UV damage, and keeping foreign invaders (harmful bacteria) out.

Using a Lumanitas Facial twice a week not only gently removes makeup, excess sebum, sunscreen, and pollution, but deeply nourishes skin’s microbiome with a plethora of pre and probiotics.

Quick Tip:

Keep your skin’s microbiome flourishing by washing less and using a Lumanitas Facial twice a week to recolonize skin with healthy, beneficial bacteria.

Sleep

Sleep is your body’s natural restorative process.

 While you sleep, your skin is hard at work making new collagen, fighting free radicals, and manufacturing new skin cells. Remember, your skin is an organ (and your largest one at that!) Just as your other organs and tissues such as muscles repair themselves while you sleep, so does your skin. When you don’t get enough rest, you’re not letting it do its job. During sleep, muscles relax and blood flow increases, allowing repair to take place. Getting inadequate or poor sleep causes undereye bags and eye puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles to be more noticeable, even in the corners of your mouth to become droopy. It can also make skin look dull and dehydrated.

Always aim for 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night and stick to a schedule as best you can. Avoid alcohol in the couple of hours before sleep because it will affect your sleep quality. Keep the temperature low, between 60 and 66 degrees – this is the optimal temperature for healthy, restorative sleep.

Sleep on your back if you can, even if it’s only for part of the night, and elevate your head a bit. When your face is squished against a pillow for prolonged periods even the youngest, healthiest skin will experience indentations. Doing this night after night for years can cause premature wrinkles.

Switch out your pillowcase every 2-3 nights. Hair and skin products, oils, excess sebum, dead skin cells and saliva all inevitably build up on your pillowcase and can migrate back onto your skin. Keep your pillow covered in a breathable pillow protector so that it doesn’t harbor dust mites and bacteria.

A cool-mist humidifier next to your head is your new best friend. Set it on low and point it into the air directly over your face. It will bathe your skin in cool, hydrating water while you sleep. What could be better than that?

Quick Tip:

Aim to get 7 – 9 hours of quality sleep every night, sleep on your back, and don’t drink alcohol before bed.

Exercise

Living a sedentary lifestyle is terrible for your skin.

Your body is designed to move, and your skin is designed to sweat (side benefit of sweat: it literally makes your skin glow). During exercise, blood flow dramatically increases, circulating oxygen and nutrients throughout the body to nourish and repair cells. Getting your heart rate up also helps promote new cell growth and boosts lymphatic system function, which helps remove waste from the body.

Comparative studies suggest that exercise may help preserve the collagen in the dermis layer of your skin and boost production. Working out also helps inhibit free radical formation and maintain mitochondrial function, which slows down aging.

Hormones released during exercise have been shown to improve immune system function, which can help relieve the symptoms of all inflammatory skin conditions.

Exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can cause existing skin conditions to flare up. An increase in the hormone cortisol tells your skin to produce more oil than normal, leading to breakouts and clogged pores.

Working out regularly helps lower cortisol – a stress hormone linked to acne and other inflammatory skin conditions and premature aging. Chronic stress also raises blood sugar, drying skin out and suppressing the immune system.

Any exercise that raises your heart rate is good, but a combination of resistance and endurance realizes the most benefits.

Exercise also helps the body get quality sleep, another necessary ingredient for healthy, beautiful skin.

Note: always take off makeup before working out so that it can’t mix with sweat and clog your pores. And don’t scrub down after a workout – sweat is very water soluble. Just a quick rinse under warm water is all you need to freshen up without harming your skin’s vibrant microbiome or removing its precious lipids.

Quick Tip:

Aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily, and more whenever you can.

Stay Hydrated

The cells in our body are made up mostly of water.

Simply drinking more water isn’t a great way to improve the hydration of skin. Instead, eat a clean, balanced diet centered around fresh fruits and vegetables, which are all made up primarily of water and contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Substances such as alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating, so enjoying them sparingly will help you retain a healthy moisture level in the body. When you consume them remember that you’ll need to drink more water than normal to make up for what you’re losing.

Sugar is also dehydrating. Sweetened drinks, including juice, are part of what dieticians consider a Western diet and are not good for skin. Opt instead for water infused with herbs and fruit, unsweetened tea, sparkling water and even coffee (but just a cup or two a day).

Use a cool-mist humidifier! Heat is very drying, whether it comes from turning up the thermostat or the weather outside. When skin is dry, it’s precious lipids are diminished and the skin barrier is compromised, leaving it more prone to transepidermal water loss. This can lead to a microbiome that isn’t balanced, as well as dry, scaly skin making chronic dehydration another factor that can cause premature aging. A good humidifier immediately changes a dry, parched environment into a more temperate one, which is much better for skin and hair.

Another way to prevent the vital lipids in the skin from decreasing is by avoiding unnecessary washing. Wash only when your face needs it (mostly at night) and to remove makeup. And regularly nurture a thriving, protective microbiome by using a Lumanitas Facial.

Quick Tip:

Keep alcohol and refined sugars and carbs to a minimum and eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Wash off Foreign Substances

Wash off makeup (and other dirty substances) as soon as you can.

The longer they stay on the skin, the more time they have to settle into pores and fine lines and inhibit your skin’s ability to naturally shed dead cells. And try to wear as little face makeup as possible (this includes foundation, concealer, powder, etc.) Even if your skin tolerates having this layer of chemicals and pigment covering it, that doesn’t mean it likes it. Your skin has evolved over millions of years with nothing coming in between it and the outside world. Being mindful that this is its natural state. Whenever possible, only apply the necessities such as sunscreen and perhaps a barrier cream.

That said, you don’t need a military-grade scrub to remove even the most caked-on makeup – or anything – ever. Use only a mild, soap-free cleanser free of physical exfoliants, fragrances and dyes. A Lumanitas Facial removes makeup, cleanses, gently exfoliates and recolonizes skin with beneficial bacteria and refreshes the microbiome.

Quick Tip:

Try to minimize the use of foundation and other all-over face makeup and wash it off asap when you use it.

Avoid touching your face throughout the day, especially if your hands aren’t freshly washed. Don’t go to bed with wet hair – moisture can trap in your pillow or bed linens and breed molds, mildews, and bacteria.

Consider wrapping your hair in a silk bonnet so that oils, hair products and dead skin cells from your scalp stay off your sleeping surface (and off your skin).

Ditch Harsh Cleansers

Remember that water itself is a great solvent.

A splash of clean, warm water on your face in the morning is all it needs to be clean and refreshed. The rest of your body, save for your hands, feet, underarms, and groin, also likely never need cleanser – plain water will more than do the job and leave your skin much healthier and resilient over time. While handwashing is extremely important for public health and to reduce the transmission of disease, soap and water – rather than antibacterial gels and cleansers – are highly effective at washing away germs without stripping skin or disrupting the microbiome. Avoid using anything antibacterial unless you absolutely can’t avoid it.

Use a barrier cream rather than a plain lotion. Dimethicone (and other types of silicone) create an innocuous layer between your skin and the world. This helps lock moisture and lipids in while still allowing the beneficial bacteria, fungi and viruses that naturally inhabit healthy skin to flourish.

Sodium lauryl Sulfate (SLS), other harsh sulfates, and soaps strip your skin of the natural oils that nourish the skin and allow good bacteria to flourish. And use only your fingertips – never employ brushes or other abrasive tools to wash the delicate skin on your face.

If you have acne, use benzoyl peroxide or other acne products sparingly and only on the area effected.

Quick Tip:

Wash only when necessary and with a gentle cleanser.