The eyes may very well be the window to your soul but it is your skin that tells the tale of your lifestyle.  Daily living creates both temporary and long lasting effects on the condition of your skin. Some of these factors are beneficial and other factors are detrimental.

We are beginning to understand that ‘we are what we eat.’ A nutrient dense diet is a big player in the reproduction of healthy new skin cells.

Vitamin A

Helps to repair tissue and prevents skin from drying out and ageing.

Vitamin A can be found in butter, eggs, milk, green and yellow fruits and vegetables including broccoli, spinach and carrots, garlic and fish oils.

Vitamin B

Improves circulation which brings color to your skin and is essential to cellular oxidation and directly having a positive effect on the skin.

Vitamin B can be found in brown rice, egg yolks, fish, most nuts, broccoli, peas and poultry.

Vitamin C

Is essential for healing and is useful in maintaining collagen giving skin strength and tone.  Like Vitamin B it is a water-soluble vitamin (excreted through the kidneys) and needs constant replenishing.

Vitamin C can be found in berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes and green vegetables.

Water

Not only hydrates our body and aids in the digestion of our food, it also flushes the body of toxins through the kidney filtration system.  Keeping the skin plump and the color clear.

Speedy weight loss

Intended or unintended depletes the skin of hydration and nutrients.  Rapid weight loss also compromises the structural integrity of the skin where a loss of tone and elasticity is evident.

Sleep

As we know will make the eyes sparkle and the skin glow.  The term ‘beauty sleep’ was coined for a reason and sleep is the ultimate beauty treatment.

Stress

Is by far the most aggressive ageing accelerator. Resulting in deep wrinkles and inflammation.  It is the instigator of many a skin disorder with eczema; psoriasis; and shingles being the most common. Relaxing massage movements over the face using an essential oil such as lavender blended with a carrier oil, will work wonders to alleviate tension in the muscles of the face.  Not only soothing the corpuscles of the sensory nerve endings but also having a hydrating effect.

Fresh air and exercise

Are both going to increase oxygen, blood flow and will bring essential nutrients to the skin.

Hormones

As many of us will have experienced, play a major role in the condition of our skin.  Sex hormones at puberty stimulate the sebaceous glands upsetting the oil balance of our skin and can create a greasy, open pored and or acneic situation.

The Menstrual Cycle

Controlled by oestrogen and progesterone can bring on cystic eruptions often followed by a secondary infection to the surrounding skin.  This can then be succeeded by scarring caused by over-zealous squeezing. For many this can be the beginning of a long, vicious and upsetting cycle.

Pregnancy Hormones

Stimulate the melanocytes in the germinativum layer of the epidermis.  This can create chloasma which is popularly known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’, a butterfly pattern of hyper-pigmentation where discoloration is found on the cheeks and nose.  This is accentuated by UVA rays which should be avoided at this time. Post-pregnancy will fortunately see the hyper- pigmentation often fade within a year.  The blood volume of the body increases during pregnancy which can give the appearance of a positively glowing complexion.

Menopause

Sees the supply of oestrogen in the body greatly reduced.  The healthy tissue of the skin thins.  ‘Hot flushes’ create redness through dilated capillaries and or excessive sweating.  The activity of the sebaceous glands is reduced and the skin becomes drier.

Contraceptive Pills

Influence change in the skin but the effects are individual.  Some women see an improvement in the condition of their skin, others see no change and for some they find that their skin condition worsens.  Sometimes, the contraceptive pill can cause hyper pigmentation on certain areas of the face, in particular the upper lip area. In the case of some acne sufferers the contraceptive pill has been prescribed with favorable results.

Alcohol

Especially in excessive amounts will have a dehydrating effect on the skin.  The heat will cause capillaries to dilate and thread veins will appear on the cheeks and nose.  Inflammation in the tissues can lead to other skin disorders such as eczema.

Smoking

As an action will increase lines around the mouth and eyes.  Exhaling smoke will pollute the pores giving a dull appearance.  Smoking inhibits blood flow to the skins surface preventing nutrients from reaching the dermis. Nicotine is a poison destroying Vitamin B and C which is essential for healthy skin.

Drugs

Depending on the prescription, recreational use and dependency can all have a range of detrimental effects on the skin.  Each is individual in characteristics.

Environment

Has a huge influencing factor of the condition of our skin.  Dry climates with less humidity or moisture will have a drying effect on the skin this includes deserts, arctic, air conditioned and heated environments.  Tropical climates with more humidity and moisture will maintain a hydrated healthier looking skin but may become oily with enlarged pores.

Pollution

Including exhaust fumes and waste gases from fire chimneys contaminate the skin’s natural protective film.  (Winyard 1996). This can provide a dull and lack luster appearance.  Deep cleansing and protective creams can be beneficial to help counteract such conditions.

Sun and Ultra Violet Rays

Can have a temporary or a lasting effect on the skin and can be both beneficial and detrimental.  Exposure to UV light stimulates vitamin D production which is vitally important to the maintenance of bone tissue and the utilization of calcium and salts.  It can also improve acne by decreasing excess oil secretion and preventing bacterial growth.  Over-exposure to ultra violet light causes the collagen in the skin to harden and without its gel-like quality the skin will lose it’s soft and supple texture, creating a leathery, dry and sagging appearance. (Winyard, 1996).  Unlike a healthy looking tan this effect is not immediately obvious but the effects are irreversible.  We are definitely learning that less is more when it comes to exposing skin to the sun.  Repeated and excessive sun exposure can lead to carcinomas and the deadly melanoma where UVB rays damage the DNA in keratinocytes and melanocytes.  Changes in the appearance of moles, warts, scars, birthmarks must be recognized and early diagnosis of such changes is paramount.

What is your skin telling you about your lifestyle?  Many of the influencing factors are out of your control and some are absolutely in your control.  Are they temporary or long lasting?  What can you do to increase the beneficial factors; and what can you do to decrease the detrimental factors that influence the condition of your skin?

If you don’t look after your skin

What are you going to live in?’

 Unknown

 This article was written by Robina Bedwell – Tutor, Level 4

References

Balch, P. (2006). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. (4th ed.) Penquin Group. New York.

Winyard, G. (1996).  A Guide for Health and Beauty Therapists. (2nd ed.) Longman Ltd.  Essex.  England.