Some people seem to have been blessed since birth with ageless, effortlessly radiant skin. Others, meanwhile, may feel like they've struggled to pin down a healthy skincare routine since their acne-speckled throes of adolescence.
But the truth is, good skin is more than something that's genetic, or even awaiting you at the bottom of a jar of miracle cream. It's the byproduct of many factors, such as diet, activity, and even your immediate surroundings. Here are seven lifestyle staples you can start incorporating for healthy, glowing skin:
1. Eat the antioxidant rainbow
Foods containing antioxidants naturally fight inflammation, an internal reaction responsible for various types of wrinkles. Natural sources of antioxidants, like Goji berries, blueberries, green tea, and dark chocolate, help keep skin supple (not to mention, bolster your immune system). And yes, this does mean you have an excuse to break out the chocolate—just make sure it's minimally processed, with three ingredients or fewer, and contains at least 70% cacao.
Other foods that are good for skin include zinc-rich kidney beans; wrinkle-battling broccoli; and salmon, with its abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for maintaining skin elasticity.
Hydration is key to preventing dry, flaky skin at any time of the year. To keep skin supple and refreshed, it's recommended that the average adult female consume about 2.7 liters (about 11.5 cups) of fluids per day, and men, 3.7 liters (15.5 cups).
2. Add supplements to your diet
In an ideal world, we'd all have the time, resources, and culinary prowess to obtain the nutrients we need for healthy skin from our diet alone. In this world, however, it's often necessary to supplement with vitamins.
The best vitamins for skin include Vitamins C, D, K, and E.
3. Get sweating
There's a reason exercise has been hailed as the closest thing we have to a wonder drug. Moderate, healthy movement is crucial for every part of our body to function at an ideal rate—and skin is no exception.
Since exercise increases blood flow, it nourishes skin cells in the process. Exercise provides oxygen and also carries away waste products from working cells. After working up a good sweat, rinse your face with cool water to prevent any gunk from getting sucked back into your pores.
4. Treat your skin like it's delicate (because it is)
Our bodies need plenty of Vitamin D to grow and function properly, but there's a limit to how much direct sunlight our skin can take. In fact, a mere 10-15 minutes is the recommended amount of daily sun exposure.
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Sunburns are more than just uncomfortable; they actively cause skin damage, accelerate the skin's aging process, and increase an individual's lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.
To protect your skin from the sun, limit exposure during peak sunlight hours of 10am to 4pm. If you are out during those hours, apply SPF (no greater than 50, which the FDA has ruled as the capping point for efficacy) and a hat, and seek out shade.
5. Embrace exfoliation
As we noted in our article about safely treating sensitive skin, exfoliation is pivotal for maintaining optimal skin health. Sloughing away dead skin cells, via this process of gentle scrubbing, speeds up the epidermal rejuvenation process.
Once or twice a week, give your body a full exfoliation. Mix together the following ingredients in a mason jar, using one tablespoon per scrub:
- 1/2 cup brown or white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup olive or coconut oil
- Essential oils of your choice (peppermint is invigorating; lavender is relaxing)
Facial skin needs a gentler scrub. Mix together the following and apply as needed:
- 2 tablespoons of an exfoliating material (e.g. baking soda, oatmeal, ground almonds)
- 2 tablespoons of oil or liquid (e.g.. coconut oil, yogurt, egg whites)
- 1 teaspoon of a skin-enhancing ingredient (e.g. avocado, parsley, honey)
Immediately after exfoliating, apply an organic lotion to your body, and cream or serum to your face, to lock in moisture.
6. Avoid toxins in skincare
Conventional beauty products are often laden with potentially carcinogenic substances, such as parabens, which the skin may absorb and/or have an allergic reaction to. The beauty aisle is notoriously difficult to navigate, so to help battle any potential label fatigue when shopping for skincare products, we've put together a list of the top toxins to avoid.
Puracy products are specially formulated with naturally derived, hypoallergenic ingredients, making them safe for all skin types.
7. Peace of mind = calm, clear skin
We know, we know: De-stressing is easier said than done. But it's one of the best things you can do for your skin. Stress and anxiety both raise your body's level of the stress hormone, cortisol. When cortisol floods the body, the results aren't pretty: It can spike blood sugar levels and cause acne breakouts. If you have a pre-existing skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, stress can cause a flare-up.
We recommend doing whatever you can to combat stress. Get your seven to eight hours of shuteye, schedule in morning meditations, join friends for a weekly yoga class, or make Sunday morning hikes a family ritual (that fresh air is great for skin, too!).
If you struggle with chronic skin issues, try shaking up your routine with one or all of these seven tips—chances are that before you know it, you'll be putting your best face forward.