Surprising information about how your skin is affected by your everyday life
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
I’m what people call fair.
What they mean is, “Girl, why don’t you get a tan?”
I’ve never been one of those people who walk away with a nice sun-kissed glow from a day at the beach. In fact, I’m the Queen of Sunscreen — otherwise, I’ll end up red and sunburned in 10 minutes flat.
Heck, going outside at all is a risk when it comes to protecting this girl’s skin.
But, hey, all of you who think you’re so snazzy with your bronzed beach bods? Hold on just a sec.
According to a recent article by the University of Cincinnati News, the 21st century calls for skin care tips that extend beyond those of generations past. That’s right, not only do we have to lay off the candy and not wear makeup to bed, but modern technologies have forced us to take additional precautions toward keeping skin healthy. Take, for example, cell phones.
“Anything that comes in contact with the skin as frequently as a phone does should be cleaned regularly with an alcohol or antibacterial wipe,” said Dr. Emily Moosbrugger, a dermatologist at UC Health who practices in West Chester, Ohio. “Or even better, use the speaker phone or headset option on the phone — this way you avoid irritation and heat from the phone, and avoid any bacteria that the phone may be carrying.”
Dr. Michael Gold, a dermatologist at Gold Skin Care Center in Nashville, Tennessee, agreed with Moosbrugger, adding that cell phones and other technologies are not the immediate problem, but rather the fact that they become dirty.
“[That] can obviously affect one’s skin — so keep them clean and most (people) will have no real problems,” said Gold. “They do not cause acne, they do not worsen skin rashes if they are facial, but again, keeping the devices clean is important.”
Another current trend that can stand in the way of clear skin is fad diets, which, according to Moosbrugger, often include cutting out entire food groups.
“Over time, there are numerous skin problems that can result from nutritional deficiencies,” Moosbrugger said about eliminating too many foods from a diet. “Skin can appear older, more wrinkled and dry, or bruise easily; the hair and nails can change; or in severe cases of nutritional deficiencies, even rashes and diseases like scurvy can develop.”
Dr. Cynthia Bailey of Sebastopol, Calif., pointed out, however, that some fad diets focus on the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and actually can be beneficial to the skin.
“It depends on the fad,” Bailey said. “[But] if it’s the classic high protein diet or powdered diet shakes, then I expect the impact would be detrimental.”
This, of course, falls in line with the fact that Bailey subscribes to the age-old saying, “You are what you eat” — skin included.
“No matter what your skin looks like, it’s healthier and more beautiful with a diet that’s weighted towards fresh fruits and veggies, and that includes whole grains,” she said. “It’s also prettiest when the diet minimizes the junk and empty calorie, chemical-filled foods that are so plentiful in our modern culture.”
Moosbrugger said the list for foods that promote healthy skin is a big one, but there are various nutrients a person should try to incorporate into a diet and they can be found in a variety of foods, including:
SEAFOOD for omega 3’s, zinc and selenium
CITRUS FRUITS (like oranges) for vitamin C
RED & GREEN VEGETABLES for vitamin A and B-carotene
SPINACH for vitamin E, vitamin A, folic acid
TOMATOES for antioxidants, vitamins A and C
NUTS for vitamin E
WHOLE GRAINS for B vitamins
SWEET POTATOES for vitamins A and C
But for many people that healthy diet comes hand-in-hand with an active lifestyle that might include a run outdoors or trip to the gym. All good things, indeed, but the sweat that lingers on the skin afterward — well, that can cause skin to breakout and appear unhealthy.
“Bacteria and yeast can thrive on sweat and in a moist environment and contribute to breakouts and irritation,” said Moosbrugger. “Skin can also begin to break down when it’s wet for an extended period of time, leading to rashes and discomfort.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that a workout should be skipped because of an inability to shower. No, no — you don’t get off that easily.
“If there isn’t time to take a full shower after breaking a sweat, you should at least try to wear sweat wicking and breathable clothing when exercising and change into a dry set of clothing and wash your face after exercise,” Moosbrugger said.
Still, just like timeless advice from grandma, the healthy skin rules of the past are not to be ignored. And that, naturally, brings us back to square one: Protection from the sun.
“The number one thing for keeping skin healthy is sun protection — wear sunscreen daily, especially on the face, and avoid tanning,” said Moosbrugger. “In addition, get adequate sleep, stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet and moisturize the skin regularly. Lastly, avoid smoking since it also can lead to skin cancers and accelerates the development of wrinkles.”
Bailey added, “You’re going to be reminded that sunscreen alone is not good enough. No more permission to apply sunscreen and run around bare-skinned in the sun thinking you’re safe.”
Ah, ha! I just knew I was onto something.
Caroline Shannon-Karasik has been a long-distance runner for 15 years and is a certified Pilates instructor. She is the author of the healthy living blog, TheGSpotRevolution.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Caroline Shannon-Karasik at CarolineShannonKarasik@DaytonCityPaper.com.