Moisturizing Your Skin
Moisturizing skin is an important step of any beauty routine. Moisturizers are referred to as emollients, which simply mean a preparation that is designed to soften the skin. They are created to increase the skin’s hydration or to increase the water content within the skin. Without this hydration, skin can become dull, dry, itchy, rough, flakey and more wrinkled. Overtime, dry skin will only become drier. Once the skin becomes dehydrated, it can no longer carry out its barrier role. The cell membrane acts as the barrier role to not allow harmful things into the skin cells but it also allows for the passage of nutrients in and out of the cell. Can you imagine layering your skin with an expensive moisturizer but only a small percentage of its ingredients pass because the skin isn’t hydrated correctly? Products alone can’t fully hydrate the skin to its correct levels.
Even if skin is oily, hydration is still a very necessary step as it allows the skin to have the proper moisture rather than just oils. Dry skin can also cause an over production of sebum which means more oil and potential breakouts. Over time, oily skin that’s dehydrated will become even oilier. The epidermis can also shed slower and making it harder to hold onto moisture. More importantly, making sure the skin has the proper hydration can ensure the skin maintains its elasticity.
There are two ways to increase hydration of the skin, internally and externally. Do both in order to get the full benefit of having soft, supple soft, moist skin with a healthy glow.
To internally increase hydration, just feed it well! Start by drinking plenty of clean fresh water and provide your skin the essential nutrients it needs to build a strong and healthy barrier. There is much discussion about exactly how much one should drink but the goal should be at least 8 glasses (8 ounces per glass) of water a day. However if you are exercising, in an elevated area or at higher temperature environments, be sure to drink more as your body requires more than the average 8 cups needed for not only skin hydration but other bodily functions. Also if you are planning to take a trip, make sure to stock up on water prior and during a plane ride. Plane rides strip moisture away from the skin because the cabin air is recycled with minimal humidity as compared to regular ground surface levels. And most importantly, always ask your physician or pharmacist whether any medications, environment or other elements may be affecting your hydration.
In addition to drinking plenty of water, you can also internally increase hydration through consuming key essential nutrients to build a strong and healthy skin barrier. Include health fats like omega 3 fats into your daily diet. The recommended levels for omega 6 is 6 grams per day for women and 8 grams per day for gentlemen. However additional studies have shown that the amount should increase with age. Include a variety of fish (preferably oily) low in mercury at least twice weekly, in addition to consuming oils and foods rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The best bites for fish high in Omega 3 and low in mercury include wild salmon, sardines, mussels, rainbow trout and Atlantic mackerel. If you are not into fish, don’t worry there are other options. Believe it or not but spinach, basil, walnuts, oregano, cloves, butternuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and Chinese broccoli have just as high levels of omega 3 as the wild salmon. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega 3 fatty acids found in cold water fish. They are highly unsaturated and play an important role in regulating healthy cell activity. As an added benefit, omega 3 also helps reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds.
Organic foods with a variety of vitamins also help hydrate and protect the skin.
- Vitamin A (retinoid is a derivative of Vitamin A) – helps with increasing cell turnover. Eat more sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin, squash and leafy greens. Vitamin A reduces wrinkles, smoothens skin and fades sun- spots.
- Vitamin B Complex – (niancinamide) Increases the production of fatty acids and ceramides to help build the skin barrier. Reduces redness, boosts the appearance and strength of cells and improves moisture retention. The Vitamin B enriched organic foods include whole grains, peanuts, beans, spinach, kale, almonds, wild rice, sugar free yogurt, eggs, soybeans, sunflower sees, cheese, brown rice, carrots, dark leafy greens, asparagus, fish, beef, chicken and turkey.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)– Helps to assist the body to form collagen, wound healing, fade sunspots, and reduce inflammation. Ideally you should include at least 500 milligrams with a maximum of 2,000 milligrams per day of vitamin C in your daily diet. Vitamin C is found in cantaloupe, oranges, broccoli, papaya, mango, raspberries, blueberries, pineapples, red cabbage, green/red pepper, kiwi and tomatoes.
- Vitamin E (aka tocopherols and tocotrienols)– Helps skin retain its natural moisture and neutralizes the damage of free radicals. It is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect the skin barrier against damage of free radicals. It also helps in the formation of red blood cells and management of other vitamins and minerals in the cells. Vitamin E can be found in spinach, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, nuts, whole grains, vegetable oils, and avocados. The recommended daily allowance is 15 mg or 22.5 IU, however for skin supplement enhancement it should be closer to 80 mg or 400- 800 IU daily.
- Vitamin K (phytonadione) – Controls the blood clotting process, helps lighten under eye circles and assists with the formation of certain proteins that maintain healthy skin cells. Find Vitamin K in your typical leafy vegetable greens like kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, collard greens Brussels spouts, broccoli and cabbage, hard cheeses sauerkraut and fermented soy foods. However it does pose a risk to those taking blood thinners so check with your doctor or pharmacist on the proper levels for your best health. Because of the risks, I prefer to obtain my vitamin K through diet alone.
- Beta-carotene (also alpha-carotene, lycopene, astaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin)– Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables can brighten skin color and texture. Beta-carotene rich foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, squash, kale, and turnip greens. As an added benefit, it also boosts the effectiveness of sunscreen by its ability to suppress oxygen damaged by UV rays. The recommended daily amounts are 3,000 IU for gentlemen and 2,310 IU for women. However it’s best to shoot for a combination of not just beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene, lycopene, astaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin in a complex of up to 15,000 IU. One cup of carrots contains 9,135 mg of beta-carotene.
- Lycopene – A powerful antioxidant and carotenoid to assist skin with maintaining the cell’s integrity with the aging process. It’s found in tomatoes, guava, pink grapefruit, red carrots, watermelon, and red papaya. There’s not daily recommendation, but shoot for a daily dose of 15,000 IU.
- Polyphenols – Found in white, green and black teas as well as coffee have anti-inflammatory properties and improve skin photo aging and sunspots. There’s no daily-recommended allowance but researchers have focused on 650 mg per day to see results. A typical cup of green tea can contain between 300 and 400 mg of polyphenols while coffee can range from 200 to 500 mg per cup.
- Selenium – Selenium reduces inflammation and can be found in Brazil nuts, tuna, broccoli, eggs, wheat germ, tomatoes, fish and turkey. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 55 micrograms per day and no more than 400 micrograms per day.
Taking just one supplement or food item mentioned above won’t meet the needs of the skin for proper hydration. It needs to be a balanced with a wide variety all the above-mentioned supplements and/or produce taken consistently each day. Also consider that you can’t get ingredients in just fruits, vegetables or fish alone so always keep your diet as varied as possible. And if you can’t keep track of your diet for consuming all the above vitamins and minerals, shoot to consumer at least eight servings of the above mentioned fruits, vegetable and nuts to get a healthy dose for best general health and skin results.
As part of feeding the body well to stay well hydrated, it also means avoid those foods and drinks that rob the body of hydration. Sugar spikes insulin levels and can induce inflammation. Alcohol also robs the body of hydration, it’s always good when drinking alcohol to have one glass of water with each alcoholic drink.
To externally hydrate the skin, understanding the skin in detail the methods include using specially designed elements such as creams, lotions, oils and toners. The external layers of the skin, or epidermis, can become softer and more pliable once a moisturizer is applied especially after gently cleansing the skin. However it’s very important to apply a moisturizer while the skin is still slightly damp rather than completely dried by a towel.
Specially designed elements will utilize percentages of various ingredients, natural or synthetic to make the skin supple and softer.
- Gently cleanse skin no more than twice a day, once in the morning and again before bedtime.
- Utilize a facial oils after a wash to retain moisture. Massage the oils into the face using an upward motion to ensure the oil is absorbed effectively and efficiently.
- Gently apply a moisturizer each morning and evening after the skin is cleansed to seal in moisture. Massage the moisturizer into the face using an upward motion to ensure the oil is absorbed effectively and efficiently.
- Utilize water sprays through the day especially in higher temperatures or low humidity environments.
- Utilize a hydrating mask after a long day where the skin has been taxed in dryer environments, during summer heat or even after a long plane ride.
Ingredients to assist with retain the proper moisturizer for your skin:
- Glycerin (glycerol) –Glycerin promotes skin cell maturation process and helps heal wounds more quickly. It’s a natural humectant that attracts water and seals in moisture that may otherwise evaporate. It’s a common and inexpensive emollient found in most beauty products.
- Hyaluronic Acid (HA) – HA is a natural compound that retains moisture, aids in tissue repair, supports collagen, supports elastin and maintains the skin’s barrier. HA is expensive and can be found in it’s natural form ranging from $25 to $300 for the same product.
- Lactic Acid – A popular alpha hydroxyl acid derived from milk, fruit, vegetables and other plants. It helps with acne, fine lines without irritating the skin (for the most part). It also hydrates even while it exfoliates. It also helps stimulate collagen production. But it also increases the skin’s sensitively to the sun, so be sure to use sunscreen with lactic acid usage.
- Ceramides – They are fat molecules found naturally in the top layer of the skin that seal in water and are absorbed quickly.
- Urea (Hydrovance) – Urea absorbs a high level of water content in order to maintain the skins barrier. It works in synergy with other ingredients especially ingredients that help with the cell turn over process. It also helps with the penetration of other ingredients.
- Petrolatum (a semisolid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum) – It is a great moisturizer because it traps moisture and water in the skin because it becomes an additional barrier. There’s a common myth that petrolatum will clog pores, but it won’t if the skin is undergoing a proper cleansing process.
A consistently well-moisturized skin cannot only make your skin look great, but it can also help improve the penetration of anti-aging products. If you think you think your skin isn’t hydrated enough, just pinch your skin on the back of your hand. If it doesn’t bounce back quickly then you may be dehydrated. Moisturizing skin is an important step of any beauty routine, but it also has to be an important step in your diet in order to achieve the best results.
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Moisturizing Your Skin