The skin is the largest of the human organs and in many ways the most fragile. Because it acts as your first line of defense, your skin comes under almost constant assault on a daily basis, not to mention fighting the effects of aging as well as disease. That means we need to be constantly vigilant about avoiding health threats and doing what is necessary to keep skin soft, smooth and youthful looking.

These Three Things Will Wreak Havoc on Your Skin

When it comes to skin damage, there are three major hazards that you need to avoid: sun, smoke and alcohol. The sun is by far the biggest culprit when it comes to unhealthy skin. Prolonged exposure to the harsh UV rays of the sun can not only dry out the skin but also lead to burning, peeling and in some cases, to skin cancer. There has been much debate about sun protection, but recent studies show that sun blocks that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays are the most effective weapon against sun related skin damage.

Smoking also carries many risks, not the least of which is to your skin. The cumulative effects of nicotine can manifest in extremely dry, wrinkled and prematurely aged skin. What most people don’t realize is that this kind of damage can be caused just as easily by regular exposure to second hand smoke, so just because you don’t smoke yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe.

Similarly, alcohol can be extremely drying to the skin. Alcohol robs the skin of vital moisture, leaving it more prone to cracking, itching and redness. So limiting your alcohol intake to a glass or two of wine a week will benefit your skin as much as it does the rest of your body.

Your Daily Routine May be the Culprit of Damaged Skin

Life has a way of getting away from you and when you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of your daily routine, you may not be thinking about the toll it is taking on your skin. Yet it is some of your most ordinary habits that can do the most damage. Things as simple as showering, wearing makeup and grabbing that morning cup of coffee can all be very bad for your skin.

The effects of these regular habits can add up, especially as your body ages. When we age, the natural store of collagen and elastin in the skin is depleted, robbing the skin of elasticity and tone. While it is important to keep your hair and body clean, too much showering can have the opposite effect on your skin, particularly as you age. The hot water can strip away essential oils, leaving your outer layer of skin more vulnerable to outside irritants. At the same time, that excess heat can dry out the skin, leading to premature signs of aging like wrinkles and age spots.

Most women wouldn’t consider going out of the house without their makeup, but over the long haul makeup can take a real toll on your skin, especially the delicate skin of the face. Since this is the first area where we tend to show signs of aging, this can be a real issue. The chemicals in most makeup can be harsh to the skin and leaving it on for any length of time can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, and bacterial infections. Be sure to remove your makeup before going to sleep and to buy new makeup regularly as old makeup is a haven for bacteria. Opt for natural products as well without dangerous parabens and other chemicals known to cause serious health problems.

Coffee is another major offender when it comes to drying out your skin. That’s because the caffeine found in coffee is a significant drying agent. Drinking too much coffee can lead to dry, aged looking skin, so consider trading in that extra cup of coffee for a non-caffeinated drink instead.

The Answer to Youthful Skin Can be Found in Diet and Exercise

Eating right and exercising is the key to losing weight and being healthy but that same combination can also keep you looking younger as proper diet, plenty of exercise and hydration are the building blocks of healthy skin. The greater majority of skin related problems from drying to excess oil to wrinkling and sagging can all be corrected by eating a balanced diet. This is also necessary for preventing diseases of the skin that can manifest at any time throughout your life.

Vitamins C, B3, E and A have all been proven to have major benefits to the skin. These vitamins all have strong antioxidant properties, helping to rid the body of excess toxins and allowing it to function optimally. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in sugar, salt and trans fats will help to provide all of the nutrients your skin needs to keep feeling and looking soft and smooth. It will also boost your skin’s natural defenses, helping it to ward off everything from acne and athlete’s foot to eczema, psoriasis and even skin cancer.

Drinking enough fluids is equally important. Water is the best natural source of hydration and can help to fight off aging while leaving the skin with a healthy, natural glow. It can also be important to help flush toxins out of the body, preventing skin related diseases. And since the redness, rash, itch and cracking of diseases like contact dermatitis and rosacea can be embarrassing as well as debilitating, doing everything you can to help your body fight them is crucial.

Along with diet, exercise is an important part of the equation. Not only does it keep your body limber and your muscles strong, it also helps to improve skin health by ridding your body of toxins as you perspire while it clears away dead skin cells, allowing for new ones to grow. So get a good work out and you’ll be doing your skin a favor as well.

Stress Will Ruin Your Skin Over Time

Aside from these common pros and cons, arguably the biggest single factor affecting your skin is stress. Stress is a common fact of life and it can cause all sorts of damage to your body, including your skin. Stress can lead to acne, rashes, blemishes, dullness and a myriad of other skin issues. The more stressed you get, the bigger the toll it will take on your looks.

In order to fight back against stress, you need to find time for relaxation in your life. Yoga, stretching exercises, meditation or even a short walk can all help to alleviate pent up stress, which can in turn help to keep your skin from becoming damaged. Of course the biggest stress reliever is sleep and getting the proper amount of sleep every night can be your skin’s biggest asset.

Love the Skin You’re In

You only get one skin so you need to do everything you can to protect and pamper it in order to stay healthy, vital and youthful looking throughout your life. Avoiding just a few of the negatives above and incorporating just a few positive ones can go a long way when it comes to the health and appearance of your skin.

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