From smoking to stress and harmful chemicals in beauty products, there are myriad factors that can harm your skin. In Skin Talks, a book by cosmetic dermatologist Dr Jaishree Sharad, the author gives pointers on how to maintain your skin in tip-top shape
Signs of worry
Inside to outside
There are some tell tale signs of one’s skin, which point to disorders of the internal organs:
>> If you have puffiness under the eyes, it may mean that you suffer from water retention, causes for which may range from sleeping with your head buried in a pillow or drinking a lot of water before sleeping, to an underlying kidney ailment or thyroid abnormality.
>> Excessive flushing of the face and red, warm, and wet palms may be due to hyperthyroidism, a state of increased production of hormones from the thyroid gland, impacting your basal metabolic rate as well as increasing blood supply to the skin and nerve stimulation of the sweat glands.
>> Persistent itch all over your body with pinkish palms and yellow nails can be a sign of jaundice.
>> Dark knuckles could be a sign of Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Factors that damage the skin
How smoking kills your skin
>> Fine lines and wrinkles: Smoking accelerates the production of an enzyme called Matrix Metalloproteinase 1 which breaks down collagen in the skin. This will increase wrinkles and cause the skin to sag too.
>> Dark circles: Constriction of blood vessels due to smoking will not allow adequate blood to flow to the skin under the eyes, thus causing dark circles.
>> Dark lips: Rosy lips become dark and unsightly. Nicotine and tar transfer to the lips through inhalation of the cigarette smoke, constricting blood vessels in the skin and causing discolouration.
>> Smoker’s lines: Lines all around your lips appear increasingly prominent as you pucker your lips to take those puffs.
Coping with stress
>> Do not neglect your skin. Follow your skin care routine. Cleanse your skin with a mild face wash.
>> Use a toner if your skin is oily. Apply a good sunscreen. At bedtime, moisturise your skin. If you develop a skin problem, visit a dermatologist.
>> Pay attention to your diet. Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and low-fat, high-fibre foods. Make sure you restrict the amount of sugar, caffeine, and junk food. Avoid smoking and alcohol.
>> Exercise regularly. Exercise improves blood flow and muscle tone throughout your body and helps normalise blood sugar and hormone levels too.
>> Adequate supply of quality sleep increases our tolerance to stress and illness.
>> You could learn relaxation techniques such as deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
Glowing with health
The guide book to healthy skin
>> Avoid hot showers and long baths. Hot water will cause quick evaporation of water, leaving the skin dehydrated.
>> Avoid abrasive scrubs (fruit, apricot, oat, and crystals of aluminum oxide such as home microdermabrasion kits).
>> Avoid loofahs, nylon brushes, and pumice stones to remove the dirt off your skin.
>> Avoid using all kinds of soaps and anything in a bar form. Avoid using bubble bath products, deodorants and antibacterial soaps.
>> Use gentle cleansers (shower gels or cleansing lotions) which are enough to remove dirt and grime.
>> If you have an oily T zone and the rest of your skin is dry, use a cleansing lotion that is gentle and doesn’t alter the pH of your skin. Look for a cleanser, which says soap-free, preservative-free, and fragrance-free, and pH 5.5.
>> Use a gel-based or water-based moisturiser for the T zone and a regular moisturiser on the cheeks and skin around the eyes.
>> A matte sunscreen would suit your skin type, as it will make sure the oily zones do not look greasier.
>> Limit your skin care to cleansing, moisturising, and using a sunscreen.
>> Avoid using hot water, which can dehydrate the skin and make it worse.
>> You should use mild cleansers, which do not have any fragrance or acids in them. The cleanser should not strip the skin of its natural protective oils or disturb the skin’s natural pH balance.
>> Avoid using products that have some of the following chemicals as they can worsen problems: alcohol, acetone, formaldehyde, alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid), urea, sodium lauryl sulphate, etc.
>> Do not forget to use a moisturiser immediately after a bath, while your skin is still damp.
>> It is not an unusual practice to use oil to moisturise sensitive skin. Baby oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, and grape seed oil are popular choices. While oils are good moisturisers, make sure you use fragrance-free oils.
>> Sunscreens are a must for sensitive skin. Zinc oxide-based sunscreens are best for sensitive skin as they are anti-inflammatory and form a protective physical barrier on the skin.
>> Make sure you wear loose clothes, which do not rub against the skin and irritate it. Cotton, linen, rayon and silk are light, breathable, non-irritant fabrics that are safe for sensitive skin.
Extracted with permission from Skin Talks
There are over 2.5 million sweat glands on the skin’s surface.
>> In a healthy individual with normal skin, the skin’s cell renewal occurs every four to five weeks.
>> The human skin comprises 70 percent water, 25 percent protein, and 5 percent fat.
Skin Talks, Dr Jaishree Sharad, Random House India, Rs 250. Available at leading bookstores.
>> The thinnest skin is found on your eyelid and the thickest on the soles of your feet.
>> Skin sheds upto 30,000 dead cells every minute.
>> Almost 50 percent of your house dust is probably dead skin.
>> Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of the body and 15 percent of one’s body weight comprises skin?