This section focuses on luxury, and what could be more luxurious than beautiful skin? Spas offer treatments, but, eventually, you have to go home, which is when the focus on skin may begin to wane. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we’ll review some very approachable ways to keep your skin healthy.
In order to have healthy skin, you first need to understand what it is and how it works. Our skin does a remarkable job of protecting us from exposure to wind, rain, cold, heat, and viruses, as well as providing a protective covering for our blood vessels, muscles, and delicate organs.
Speaking of organs, the skin is the largest human organ, with a typical adult body covered in 22 square feet of it. It’s thickest on feet and at its thinnest on eyelids.
A typical person has 300 million skin cells, and it’s imperative to protect every one of them. Under optimal conditions, a typical human sheds 30,000 dead skin cells every minute, which are quickly replaced. On average, assuming good health, our skin replaces itself every 28 days.
Of the three layers of skin, the outer epidermal layer is the one we can most readily protect, although proper nutrition is a must for the two inner layers as well. The epidermis is made of keratinocyte cells—proteins that are also present in hair and nails. These cells grow outward, arriving at the surface in a process requiring about five weeks.
Outer layer skin damage can be caused by scrapes, cuts, burns, and overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays (sunburn). Of these, sunburns are, subject to your lifestyle, the most avoidable. But unless you’re a vampire, total avoidance of UV rays isn’t a great idea. Without sunlight, there’d be no life as we know it here on Earth.
So how do we protect our skin? The answer is a combination of straightforward actions, starting with a diet that ensures proper skin nutrition.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and mackerel help to keep the skin moisturized and supple. Fish rich in fatty oils are often also a source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, as well as zinc, which is essential for the production of new skin cells, plus proteins that keep skin strong.
Avocados are another good source of “good fats” and vitamin E—who knew guacamole had medicinal benefits? Other skin-friendly foods include nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, broccoli (Mom was right to make us eat it), purslane, tomatoes, red grapes, berries, and dark chocolate (which is a tasty source of antioxidants).
Vitamin D is said to enhance the overall health of skin, promoting the growth and repair of cells, which in turn helps to minimize the effects of aging. According to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, more than 40 percent of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. Happily, this can be rectified fairly easily.
There are three sources of vitamin D: vitamin D supplements, food sources such as tuna, swordfish, salmon, and beef liver, and sunlight, in the form of UVB exposure.
Supplements are a good choice for those whose diets are lacking in the foods listed; always consult your physician before considering a vitamin regimen.
Sunlight is another source, but it must be used in moderation; UV overexposure can lead to wrinkles and sunburn. Limit overexposure and take protective measures such as wearing sun-protective clothing, a hat, and sunglasses while outdoors.
Even George Hamilton, an actor perhaps best known for his quest to attain and maintain the perfect tan, now relies largely on bronzers to maintain his golden hue.
UV avoidance is the best skin damage preventative, but there are several systems that are said to help to repair damaged skin. One method is using intense pulsed light, a system utilizing light energy to heat the skin in order to remove specific, targeted skin cells based on color. It evens out skin tone, and is used to remove acne scars, freckles, wrinkles, and more, but it can’t be used around the eyes.
Another system uses a radio frequency machine to apply specific radio frequency waves to heat targeted areas of the skin. The body reacts as if it had been injured, sending rejuvenating collagen to the treated area. As a result, the skin is tightened, reducing sags and wrinkles.
In infrared skin tightening, infrared exposure is applied to cause controlled damage. This causes the body to increase elastin and collagen production, resulting in tighter skin; it’s often used on the face and neck.
Your dermatologist can help you to choose a system that’s right for you.