Our skin is the largest organ of the body and makes up for around 3.6kg of our body weight. It serves many functions, including –
Protection: it provides a line of defence against environmental elements.
Heat regulation: it acts as a thermostat by cooling our bodies through secreting sweat.
Excretion: it allows waste to be carried out through the pores via sweat and oil.
Sensation: it detects the sensations of touch, pressure, temperature and damage via nerve endings.
Storage & synthesis: synthesis of Vitamin D and UV are managed via the skin, and water and fats are stored here.
Absorption: gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen enter the bloodstream via the skin in small amounts, as can certain ingredients found in skincare and cosmetics.
Taking all this into account, our skin plays a major role in keeping the body functioning at its optimum level. It’s surprising then, just how much we can neglect our skin on a daily basis by failing to do simple things like use sunscreen and avoid nasty chemicals in skincare and cosmetics. While lack of time is usually a big reason why we don’t do the simplest of tasks, we really should all be spending a little more of it, nurturing our skin and bodies, as well as educating ourselves on the dangers that skin can come into contact with daily.
Follow these small, yet significant steps daily to help protect one of your most precious assets.
- Sunscreen or “slip slop slap” as we say here in Australia (ok so I’m showing my age now!) – really should be a huge priority for everyone, as the suns damage is the number one cause of age acceleration & melanoma. Thanks to an advancement in technology, we can now safely acheive a natural tan (seriously – tandoori is no more!) in minutes with spray tans, and have access to an abundence of brilliant sun care products. Be sure to use one which contains natural zinc oxide instead of synthetic based blockers (as sadly, these can be ineffective) and apply it prior to going outdoors, even if only for 10 minutes on a cloudy day. Please note: I’ve just recently discovered that the Invisible Zinc brand of suncare contains a lot of comedogenic ingredients, meaning it can block your pores and cause breakouts in some skin types. The reason you may not be aware of this is because sunscreens have different labeling laws to cosmetics, in Australia, which states that they only have to declare the active ingredients on a label. If you are using it, be sure to be diligent with removal by doing a double cleanse of an evening. Which brings me to my next point! –
- Cleansing: Your skin is the first organ to come in contact with environmental factors such as pollution and dirt, not to mention the cocktail of chemicals we smother it with, by means of cosmetics and skincare. While you may not have time in the morning to do a full routine, its important to follow a night time ritual of cleansing, to wash away what the day left behind. In fact, all sunscreen and cosmetics wearers really should do a thorough removal every night to allow skin to breathe and regenerate. Depending on your cleanser, it is usually necessary to do a double cleanse if you are a cosmetics wearer.
Tip: If you happen to run out of cleanser, or eye make-up remover, use a damp cotton pad to apply some vegetable oil and gently sweep it across your face and eyes, replacing the pad until the make-up is gone. Olive or canola oils are great and usually kept on hand in the kitchen, however if you happen to have other carrier oils on hand such as jojoba, grapeseed or sunflower, these are also brilliant for cleansing and moisturising the skin. I would only recommend using certain oils in this manner on an occasional basis, as they can be heavy, particularly for the eye area. Also, the oils found in the kitchen can go rancid quickly if not stored in the right ways, so you really want to know that the oils are of quality if using for a prolonged amount of time. Never the less, it is better than sleeping in your make-up. Just be sure to remove well with a toner or follow up with a masque.
Tip: change your pillow case and face washer regularly to help eliminate breakouts.
- Moisturise: no matter what your skin type, even an oily complexion requires daily moisturiser in order to stay balanced and hydrated. Moisturisers role is actually to help trap the skins own moisture in, while adding extra hydration, depending on the ingredients in the product. So lather up with a good nourishing cream, hydrating gel, quality oil or lotion after a shower and morning and night when you wash your face.
Tip: use a rich cream or body butter on dry hands before putting your washing up gloves on – the heat will help the product dissolve into your skin. For really dry hands, try doing the same thing, only wearing light cotton gloves instead, to bed.
Tip: carry a hydrosol spray (hydrating floral water spray) with you in your handbag, and keep it on your desk. Spritz your face with it anytime you need a refresh. They are also brilliant for setting your make-up, and an absolute must for mineral powder foundation wearers. Just a quick burst over the top of your setting powder and see how much more luminous and natural your complexion looks. Try it and I bet you won’t wear minerals without it again!
- Hot and cold water, contrary to what you may have read, is not going to help open and close the pores or do anything kind for your skin. Long term use of hot water on the skin can lead to broken capillaries, dryness and irritation. Cold is not so bad, but the drastic change in temperature is not necessarily a good thing for your skin. Use cool to warm water instead.
- Exfoliate your face with anything harsh, such as rough wash cloths, loofahs or body polishes designed for the body. Even some face exfoliating products are too rough for the delicate skin on your face, so always look at the ingredients. Avoid scratchy feeling products, and look for finer ingredients that are powdered or spherical in shape.
Tip: if you run out of exfoliant, you can try making a blend of oats/oatmeal, milk and honey. Form a paste and apply it over the sink or a basin, as it can be messy! The milk has a gentle exfoliating action due to the lactic acid, and is moisturising due to the fat content. Honey is soothing and helps to form a paste, while oats are also a gentle exfoliant.
Tip: never rub or drag your skin, especially around the delicate eye area. And never sleep in your make-up, no matter how tired you are! If you know you’re going to come home late after a big night, leave a pack of cleansing wipes (good to have on hand just for these occasions) on your pillow to remind you to do it!