Skincare Skills

by Lydia

Skincare blogger

October 27, 2020

Introduction

From eating an antioxidant-rich diet to practicing robust skincare regimens, achieving healthy skin is as easy as it has ever been. Welcome to our ultimate guide to healthy skin, where we’ll be going through the actions you can take to make your healthy skin goals come true. These will not only include the things that you can do to your skin to improve it, but also lifestyle changes that will improve your overall health, with your skin becoming radiant as a result. We’ll also be going into skin types and how they may affect which skincare methods you use, as well as our natural beauty tips, before finishing with a skincare FAQ.

Diet

Best Foods for Healthy Skin

As we’ve established, what you eat can affect the health of your skin. Just as a poor diet will affect other parts of your body, your skin will also be affected in ways you may not have even noticed. Below are some examples of the foods you should be looking at if you want to improve the health of your skin.

Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel make great diet options for those concerned about healthy skin, because they’re full of omega-3 fatty acids which aid in maintaining your skin. They keep the skin thick and moisturized, and so a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids will cause dry skin that’ll lead into other skin problems. These omega-3 fats found in fish also reduce inflammation in the skin, fighting acne and even mitigating the damage done by the sun’s UV rays. 

Fish oil can help fight autoimmune conditions like psoriasis, too, and a lot of these positive skin benefits are due to fatty fish being a source of antioxidants, namely vitamin E. These types of fish are also rich in protein, which also help maintain skin integrity, as well as zinc which regulates the production of new skin cells. With all their benefits, fatty fish should be included on most people’s dishes whether they have skin concerns or not.

Along with fish, another good food to promote healthy skin are sweet potatoes due to their beta-carotene content. When ingested, beta-carotene is changed into vitamin A within the body, and it’s these valuable provitamins that are the reason you should eat them. As an aside, oranges, spinach and carrots contain the same nutrient, but the sweet potato is simply the richest source because it yields six times the daily value of vitamin A.

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, and foods under this group contain nutrients that make your skin more resilient to outside stimuli such as harmful UV rays from the sun, perfect for fending off dry and wrinkled skin. If made a staple of your diet, beta-carotene also has the potential to add a warm complexion to your skin which gives off a healthy appearance.

Introducing soy to your diet is a relatively simple way to start treating your skin right, due to the fact that there’s multiple ways to consume soy and you can even take it in supplements if need be. With soy it’s the isoflavones that make them worthwhile to eat, a phytoestrogen that can block human estrogen in the body. This has been used for testing on women forming wrinkles and postmenopausal women, and in both cases the results were that skin elasticity was increased and collagen was added to the skin, which would alleviate skin frustrations attached to those two problems.

As for snacks that can promote healthy skin, walnuts and dark chocolate work towards that in their own ways. Walnuts are a lot like fish nutritionally, at least where healthy skin is concerned, in that they have more omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid than any other nut and also contain some zinc in them too. Cocoa’s effect on the skin is well-documented and is best consumed as cocoa powder for thicker and more hydrated skin, and that skin gets better blood flow to it as a result. For specificity’s sake, dark chocolate is 70% cocoa or above, no less and the less sugar the better. Eating about 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate a day will introduce a supplement into your diet that will give you the familiar benefits of antioxidants such as better UV radiation resistance in your skin. 

Best Fruits for Healthy Skin

Getting your five a day is important not only for skincare, but for your general health too. Many fruits are a great source of beneficial, skin-friendly antioxidants like vitamins C, E and resveratrol. This means that one of the steps you can take to improve your skin health is eating (or drinking) the rainbow, and we have some of the best suggestions detailed below.

Lots of vitamin C can be found in lemons. Common household remedies for stains often include lemons as they’re nature’s bleaching product and can help you get glowing skin by both ingesting lemon and by applying its juice directly to your skin. This can level out uneven pigmentation and acne scars. You should drink water with sliced lemon in the mornings too, since this helps flush the body of toxins. Otherwise dab lemon juice, mixed with either rose water for oily skin or coconut oil for dry skin, to your face for ten minutes before rinsing off. Lemon and milk under the eyes for ten minutes will also help reduce dark circles under the eyes.

Technically a large, single-seeded berry, avocados can be a very healthy addition to the right diet, hence their rocketing popularity in the last decade or so. Avocados are packed with healthy fats, fibers and, among others, the beneficial vitamins A, C, and E. Eating avocado can make the aging process less taxing on your skin, and those healthy fats help to speed up wound healing and keep the elasticity of your skin. Like lemons, you can get benefits by either eating avocado or wearing mashed avocado as a facemask for about ten minutes.

For the acne sufferers out there, strawberries not only have vitamin C but are also a good source of salicylic acid (sometimes known as alpha-hydroxy acid) which features in creams that treat both blackheads and acne. Eat or apply them for spotless skin that is resistant to collagen destruction and the formation of wrinkles. Simply wear mashed strawberries on your face for ten minutes before washing with cold water.

Another great antioxidant, resveratrol, can be found in grapes, particularly red ones. Resveratrol protects skin from sunlight and skin cancer. Grapes also have calcium, potassium and phosphorus, and if you can get your hands-on grape seed extract then you can take advantage of their rejuvenating properties. As with all of the other fruits, you can eat these, drink them in a smoothie, and mash them for a ten-minute facemask. 

The Clear Skin Diet

If you specifically need a solution to acne or other skin blemishes, then you should focus on foods that promote clear skin. As previously mentioned, strawberries are great for this, as well as citrus fruits, red peppers, and broccoli as they are all rich in vitamin C which encourages smoother textures in your skin. 

Other foodstuffs you should aim to include in your diet to promote clearer skin include the following. The high zinc and iron content in lean meats and fortified cereals are vital for giving your skin a healthy glow, so these should be your ideal options for breakfast and lunchtime. With those you should have some leafy greens and dark red or orange vegetables as they’re rich in complexion-saving beta-carotenes. Lastly, sunflower seeds, almonds, and the occasional handful of brazil nuts are not only great for snacking alongside many of the foods mentioned in this section, but the vitamin E of the seeds and the selenium content in the brazil nuts work in tandem to fortify the skin against UV rays, reduce skin cancer risk factors and bolster your immune system, lessening conditions that will affect your skin.

The Best Vitamins and Supplements for Your Skin

Whether you want to plan your diet with pinpoint accuracy or want to get supplements to fill out nutritional gaps in your diet, you’ll need to know which vitamins and nutrients do what so you can plan accordingly. 

Vitamins A, C, D, and E are the foremost vitamins in helping to achieve healthier skin, as evidenced by their presence in the above dietary options. 

Vitamin A is mainly concerned with keeping acne at bay, since it reduces the size of the sebaceous glands and so regulates the amount of oil that the skin produces. It also helps the body shed off dead skin cells. If planning to take supplements of vitamin A, you should consult a doctor since high levels of vitamin A carry a lot of negative effects like hair loss. 

Vitamin C helps with any scarring you may have, maybe from previous acne breakouts or conditions like rosacea. This is because it protects your body from damage by free radicals. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to take vitamin C orally instead of topically.

Vitamin D is great for sun-damaged skin and can help heal any damage or discoloration caused by sunlight. A deficiency of vitamin D can also heighten the risk of developing acne, so it’s an important preventative skincare vitamin too. Vitamin D3 can be taken in through the skin, otherwise it’s usually administered orally.

Vitamin E, like vitamin D, helps to repair sun damage, particularly sunburn, and is best paired with vitamin C to reap its full benefits. 

Collagen is a famous nutrient that everyone’s heard of, especially in the context of skincare and de-aging skin. This is because it helps your complexion, which gradually suffers as the average woman loses about one to two percent of collagen every year after their thirties. Taking collagen daily will keep your skin’s elasticity and produce anti-aging effects.

Magnesium is good for regulating any blemish breakouts if you’re certain that they’re down to stress or hormonal irregularities. It works a lot like vitamin A, but also lowers cortisol levels and minimizes inflammation. Making sure your body has enough magnesium is also a factor in the effectiveness of vitamin C. 

Zinc is required for the normal functioning of the skin but should also be employed if you have scalp pimples caused by stress. Zinc can be ingested or applied topically included via shampoos, which help them accelerate wound healing. 

Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for all of their positive impacts upon the body, so it should not be a surprise that they’re great for your skin too. They’re some of the best anti-inflammatories you can consume, and you can consume them easily through dietary supplements. This doesn’t only combat inflammation in the skin and the problems that can cause but has also been shown to help treat psoriasis and dermatitis.  

Products and Skin Care Routines

Building a Skin Care Routine

Most skincare routines will consist of three main steps that can be summed up as cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

Cleansing will be the most basic step of your routine and involves washing your face in both the morning and the night to avoid clogged pores and other skin complications that arise from irregular face washing. You’ll need to find the right cleansing agent that does its job without taking away the healthy oils in your skin. This usually depends on your skin type, but micellar water is a good cleanser compatible with most skin types. Otherwise, foaming liquid is ideal for oily skin, cream or lotion is ideal for dry skin, and oil-based cleansers are best for sensitive skin. If you’re acne-prone, make sure the product you use is non-comedogenic.

Toning is the application of thin but nutrient-packed liquids to bolster other products you’ll be using and balance the complexion. As a supplement to a skincare routine, it’s optional but we’d advise including it since it’s relatively little effort. Not only do many toners include those skin-friendly vitamins E and C, but hyaluronic acids and hydroxy acids hydrate and repair your skin. Apply toner with clean hands to ensure you use every drop, as most cotton pads get saturated in the product instead of transporting the toner onto your face. Another optional stage is the application of serums that share ingredients with toners, like hyaluronic acids and vitamin C.

Moisturizing is the final stage where you hydrate and soften the skin after all of the preparation you’ve done. It helps the skin to retain moisture, something our skin gets worse at as we age. Like with cleansers, you should prefer different kinds of product depending on your skin type. For oily skin use gel moisturizer, for dry skin use soft cream and for sensitive or inflammation-prone skin use balm. Another optional stage to end on is to then apply sunscreen to protect your completed skincare routine.

The Ten-Step Korean Skin Care Routine

The famous Ten-Step Korean Skincare Routine trend is a long skincare regimen that divides beauty-seekers by their patience due to how much longer it is than your average routine. Many swear by it, though, and so we couldn’t write a guide to healthy skin without mentioning it. The steps are as follows:

The first cleansing stage is separated into two, oil cleansing and a low-pH foam or cream cleansing to ensure that all manner of debris is removed from your face. Then toner is applied as you usually would, before applying essence which acts a lot like toner in how it treats the skin with added moisture. They’re often even thinner and waterier than toner in order to penetrate deeper into the skin. Next is emulsion, yet another layer of moisture that you’ll need to apply in the hunt for glass skin. More viscous than toner and essence, emulsion is packed with botanical extracts but may need to be applied less if your skin is very oily.

The back half of the Ten-Step Korean Skincare Routine starts off with the application of serum (or ampoule) but, as in any other routine, this can be skipped if your skin doesn’t hold up well with so many layers of product. Next you need to apply a quality sheet mask for about 20 minutes. Eye cream is usually thought of as a preventative, anti-aging measure but is always found in the Korean routine and is used long before reaching wrinkling age to ensure that those wrinkles stay hidden much later into your life. Apply with your ring finger to be as delicate as possible. Finally, you round off this routine with moisturizer as you usually would. The moisturizer is traditionally a cream occlusive layer one to seal in the other layers you’ve just applied. 

The largest difference between the American and the Korean skincare routines are the inclusion of sunscreen, an optional and often sporadically used product in the West but an important part of the Korean regimen. Asian sunscreens also protect from more UV rays than Western products, so if you can get your hands-on sunscreens that fight UVA and UVB rays then you’ll have an advantage over those using Western sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be applied every two or three hours, too, making this stage a high maintenance one. At nighttime, a sleeping mask is often used too to help with the restorative functions of sleep. 

Daytime and Nighttime Regimen

It’s not uncommon for skincare routines to include components at both the morning and the evening, so what’s the difference between them? So-called morning creams are often designed to protect your skin from outside stimuli and so contain many antioxidants. Night creams, on the other hand, are more restorative and geared towards rejuvenating your skin after a long day, not to mention replenishing moisture levels and reducing water loss via emollients.

Lifestyle

Stress

Stress affects every part of your body, including the skin, and is an unavoidable part of life. This can make reducing stress a difficult task, but there are a lot of unnecessary stressors that can be contributing to your skincare troubles. 

When you’re stressed, a chemical response is triggered that makes your skin more sensitive and reactive to outside stimuli. Breakouts become more likely as part of this reaction is an increase in cortisol production, which makes your skin produce more oil. Stress can also exacerbate pre-existing skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Don’t let your skincare regimen fall victim to stress. It’s important to adhere to your skincare routine even in stressful times, as it can be easy to skip it which will make the stress symptoms on your skin even worse. You can’t avoid stress, but you can mitigate its effects by getting your eight hours of sleep, getting enough physical activity, taking time for relaxation, and practicing stress management techniques. If your stress levels are particularly high, or you deal with stress in consistently unhealthy ways, then talking to someone like a therapist can help to reduce and better cope with stress.

Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, especially those who smoke regardless, and so it shouldn’t be surprising that this extends to your skin too. Toxins inhaled whilst smoking damage the collagen and elastin in your skin, two of the fibrous components necessary to keep your skin supple. This ages your skin prematurely, causing wrinkles like smoker’s lines and crow’s feet before your time.

A big effect from smoking is a marked increase in the chances of skin cancer, particularly squamous cell carcinoma which will often form on the lips of those who smoke. Lowered immune systems from smoking also increase the risk of other cancer types developing. 

Besides stress, smoking is also a risk factor in the development of psoriasis which will do a number on your skin’s health. This is because nicotine causes skin inflammation which makes psoriasis development up to 50% more likely.

Smoking also interferes with wound healing, making it take longer to recover from any injuries you may have, or later suffer. Your skin will also get stained orange or grey, depending on skin type and length of time smoking, and yellow stains will form on the fingers from holding the cigarettes.

Smoking is often compounded with stress as it is a coping mechanism for stress by those addicted to cigarettes. This means that whilst stopping cigarette smoking is the obvious solution to avoiding the damage it does to your skin, you may have to contest with the stress that makes you want to smoke in the first place too.

Alcohol

Everyone knows that you should keep hydrated to lessen the effects of drinking alcohol. This is because alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it dehydrates your body by increasing urine production. This dehydration from drinking alcohol has detrimental effects on the skin, such as dry and sagging skin. Like nicotine it also provokes inflammation in the skin, worsening conditions like rosacea by dilating blood vessels. 

The amount of sugar in your alcoholic drink often corroborates with its negative effects, which means that cocktails and wines are the most troublesome drinks for your skin. Clear liquor like vodkas are the least agitating towards your skin, so partaking of the harder stuff may be best if you want to drink and still keep your skin as fresh as possible.

There is the notable exception of red wine when talking about skin-friendly alcoholic drinks. Drinking wine in excess is bad for your skin no matter what, but many skincare diets recommend drinking one glass of red wine due to the polyphenols and the resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes. If consumed in conjunction with a skincare diet, red wine can be a benefit to your skin, but only because of the resveratrol and not the sugary alcohol content itself.

Sleep

As mentioned, maintaining a healthy and balanced sleeping schedule can reduce stress and lessen the effects of stress on your skin, but the lack of sleep itself will cause damage to your skin. During nightly rest, your body renews itself by removing dead blood, brain and skin cells to replace with newer, fresher ones. Toxins are also purged, some of which can affect your skin if not removed by the sleep cycle.

Moisture and pH levels in your skin will also suffer if you don’t get enough sleep, making your skin look less youthful and causing redness. This is why many skincare products aim to maintain a slightly acidic skin environment so that moisture can stay in and bacteria is repelled more effectively. Blood levels will also dilate from lack of sleep, which is why dark rings under your eyes develop. 

Putting the phone down in the nights will help with falling asleep immensely, since besides the obvious distraction it causes, the spectrum of light that you get exposed to when using your phone tricks your circadian rhythm into thinking that your eyes are being exposed to daylight, impacting melatonin levels and keeping you awake.

Try getting the standard eight hours, and if you still get tired in the day gradually increase your sleeping time until you can stay awake all day. You may need to do this if the amount of sleep you require is different from the recommended average. 

Sunscreen

Sunscreens are handy to protect your skin from the harmful effects of sunlight. They prevent sunburn, premature aging and decrease the risk of skin cancer from exposure to UV radiation. There are side effects to sunscreens, some of which can make skin more sensitive and cause redness and irritation. This is due to some of the ingredients in a given sunscreen product, and so if you react badly to one there’s usually a sunscreen out there that is compatible with your skin. The negative side effects of sunscreen are also worsened if you don’t apply sunscreen often, studies have found.

Skin Types

How to Find Your Skin Type

In order to find your skin type, you’ll first need to start with clean skin. This means washing your face thoroughly to remove any dirt or product that may have found itself on your face, as well as removing any makeup or other personal effects from your face. You then need to wait for approximately two hours without applying any products and without getting into any situations where your skin can become dirty. Then, whilst your skin is in its most natural state, you can analyze your skin and determine which skin type you have from its characteristics. See those types and their symptoms below.

Normal Skin

The so-called normal skin type is one that scores low with the usual categories that help with skin type diagnosis, those being oiliness, dryness, and sensitivity. Normal skin doesn’t suffer with these and can tolerate most ingredients that you can throw at it, providing they don’t trigger allergies. You can tell if you have the normal skin type by a lack of breakouts, a lack of bad reactions to new products and a lack of oil or dryness on your face when it’s in its natural condition.

Oily Skin

Logically following, oily skin then is skin that scores higher with oiliness than any other category. Oily skin glows and shines from the oil content and requires products like mattifying powders to tame, and that oil also interferes with your perfectly executed makeup. To treat oily skin, you’ll want to control how shiny your face is, and you’ll also want to use products labeled non-comedogenic as they won’t clog pores. Avoid mineral oil, petroleum jelly, and alcohol ingredients in products. Be careful of over-washing your face as dryness will heighten oil production.

Dry and Dehydrated Skin

Dry and dehydrated skin are different skin types with a very broad crossover in how they are diagnosed and treated, hence their pairing here. Dryness is the innate lack of oil in your skin, which can cause flakiness and itchiness, by either pre-existing conditions like dermatitis or environmental factors. Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is where your skin can’t retain moisture content, and so may feel tight and suffer from a papery look. Caring for these skin types means getting very friendly with moisturizers, possible several times a day and definitely after bathing. Regulating the air in your home to be moist will also help. For dehydrated skin, practice similar treatments but use products that are water-based, and make sure you get your daily water intake.

Sensitive Skin

Whether it’s caused by allergies, environmental factors, or just your genetics, sensitive skin is skin that is vulnerable to flushing, flaking, or negative reactions to skincare products or perfume fragrances. This means you should be more careful when choosing cosmetics since anyone, or a combination of, the ingredients in them will set off your skin. Avoid products with alcohol and antibacterial ingredients as, whilst they’re harsh on microbes, they’re also harsh on your skin too. Instead go for products with anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

Combination Skin

Maybe you exhibit the signs of all of the above skin types, and so you’re confused as to which one you have. Unfortunately, this may mean that you have combination skin where your skin will be oily, dry, and maybe even sensitive depending on which part of the face or body you’re focusing on. Typically, the oily section of combination skin will be your T-zone, whilst the rest of your skin will be normal or dry. You’ll want to avoid products that exacerbate dry and oily skin, and instead find a balance in your skincare regimen and deal with problem areas separately.

Acne-Prone Skin

Whilst breakouts can be a symptom of oily skin, frequent breakouts or constant pimples and spots on your skin can be indicative of acne-prone skin. Acne-prone skin is where the pores clog easily, which means that more blackheads and whiteheads will form than normal. This can compound with otherwise dry and oily skin. Having identified that you have acne and not some other skin blemish like rosacea, you can use exfoliants and moisturizers to minimize oil on your skin. Try and use products with acne-fighting components like clay, peroxide and salicylic acid.

Mature Skin

Mature skin is obviously another type of skin that compounds with other skin types, as mature skin is simply the type of skin that you develop as you grow older. There’s little ambiguity in whether you’re developing mature skin, as it happens to all of us at some point or another. It’s characterized by more wrinkling and dryness than in your younger years. To fight against the slow march of time, enhanced skin care techniques are required to repair past damage and mitigate any future detriments to your skin. For this you’ll need an anti-aging routine which promotes collagen production and protects against outside stimuli.

Top Natural Beauty Tips

Natural Face Mask

A simple and natural way to take care of your facial skin is by wearing facemasks made from raw honey. Honey is antibacterial and great for softening skin, and so a warmed tablespoon of honey on your face for five to ten minutes will help in keeping your face clear, glowing, and soft.

Natural Elbow and Knee Exfoliators

Your elbows and knees are probably the most susceptible parts of our body that become cracked and rough, due to the tight spread of skin around the joints in those areas. A natural remedy for this is to use a halved orange and rub it onto the affected areas. This not only smells pleasant but will soften those areas, keeping your knees and elbows as smooth as possible.

Natural Blackhead Remover

Honey can again be used in conjunction with another citrus fruit, a lemon wedge, to remove blackheads if you apply the lemon-honey mixture with the wedge itself and leave it on for five minutes. Citrus makes skin sensitive to sunlight, so this is best done as part of a nighttime regimen. 


Frequently Asked Questions

What foods are bad for skin?

Seeing as we’ve written a lot about the best foods to achieve healthy skin, it only makes sense that you’d want to know which foods to avoid. Besides from food and drink with alcohol content, you’ll also want to avoid your morning coffee as it also acts as a diuretic. Salt is also something to avoid for the same reason, it’ll dehydrate your skin, so lay off the bags of chips or any form of white bread, whose glycemic content is also bad for skin. With dark chocolate being safe to eat in moderation, it’s no surprise that milk chocolate is a no-go. Like white bread, the sugar content in milk chocolate is too much so if you have a sweet tooth you should stick to the darker variants. You’ll also want to ensure any bottled water you drink is BPA-free since it could bring about hormonal changes in the body, a precursor to breakouts.

Is dairy bad for skin?

Dairy is more complicated than a lot of other food types when discerning whether or not they’re healthy for your skin, and so they are treated with a lot of caution in skincare circles who choose to cut dairy out to hedge their bets. This uncertainty comes from the fact that dairy, even when sugar-free, has a lot of sugar in the form of lactose. As pointed out, food with a high glycemic index is bad for your skin whether it’s from the sugar in chocolate, white bread, cheese, or cocktails, and dairy seems to be no exception. If you need a dairy replacement to make your skincare diet work, then the best replacement to use would be nut milks, with almond working the best. 

Does drinking water help skin?

Drinking more water carries with it many benefits for your body, including the health of your skin. Not only does it hydrate skin to reduce the many, many detrimental effects that dehydration has on skin health, but it flushes toxins from your body. This reduces chances of developing eczema and psoriasis. Your pores are also smaller when you’re hydrated which ensures a healthier balance between oil and skin. Your skin retains a healthy pH balance too, stopping blemishes in their tracks and giving your skin a healthier, glowing appearance.

About the author 

Lydia

My name is Lydia Adams and I have been a skincare blogger in one way or another for many, many years.

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