As much as we love our multi-step skincare regimens, healthy skin also has to do with lifestyle choices we make on the regular. According to Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, cosmetic dermatologist, chief medical officer of the PFRANKMD brand, and author of The Pro-Aging Playbook, your diet, exercise, and sleep all play a role in the appearance and long-term health of your body’s largest organ: the skin!
“Before you go spending hundreds on a cream, I would focus on these lifestyle choices,” Frank advises. “You’ll see how small, gradual changes in how you think, how you eat, how you move, and how you make time to care for yourself can cost little to nothing — yet reap enormous rewards.”
Here are seven things you can do right now for healthier skin, according to experts.
“Dehydration from alcohol and excess sugar in one’s diet can cause wrinkles down the line,” Frank explains, emphasizing the importance of adequate hydration. Smoking and drinking are two vices that he names as being particularly deleterious to the skin. “If you cut these things out in your 20s and 30s, you will look significantly younger in your 40s and 50s.”
Hydrate with trace minerals
Naturopathic doctor Stacey Shillington ND, founder of Naturopathic Beauty, points out even if you are drinking your recommended two liters of water per day, it may not absorb properly if you are mineral deficient — which, she says, many of us are. “To ensure that the body is hydrating and detoxifying properly, add some trace minerals into your daily water. Trace minerals and electrolytes regulate cellular reactions and ensure that you are maximizing your water intake and deeply hydrating your skin.”
Frank names rest, exercise, and diet as the three best ways to optimize the hormones in your body — and yes, hormones affect the skin in myriad ways. As Dr. Gary Goldfaden, dermatologist and founder of Goldfaden MD points out, exercise is also great for your skin because it reduces stress, helps curb breakouts, improves circulation, and can even promote improved skin tone.
Pay attention to your diet
Right off the bat, Shillington — an expert on using diet to promote skin health — says to ax inflammatory cow dairy (which increases oil-production and congestion via the release of an IGF-1) and quitting sugar, which cues the glycation process that breaks down the structural proteins (i.e., collagen, elastin) in the skin.
Instead, incorporate anti-inflammatory foods, including turmeric, and antioxidants, from berries and leafy greens. Goldfaden also adds that sources of vitamin D, which is key for skin repair, and omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as salmon, avocado, and almonds, can greatly improve the hydration and circulation of the skin. Fermented foods, he notes, are great sources of gut-friendly pre- and probiotics that can help with eczema, rosacea, and aging skin.
Goldfaden considers exfoliation to be the best thing you can do for your skin because it stimulates the skin’s natural turnover process. “By removing the dead skin cells [on the skin’s surface], exfoliation can help make up for the gradual slowing down of the natural skin renewal process, improving the tone and texture of the skin.” Of course, Shillington points out that it is key to practice in moderation, beginning 1-2 times per week and gradually increasing the frequency. She recommends using a naturally anti-bacterial Manuka honey mask, which fights acne, hydrates, and exfoliates using natural chemical acids.
Lastly, Goldfaden notes that everyone should be wearing at least an SPF 30 year-round. “A physical sunscreen is always better in my opinion than a chemical sunscreen,” he begins. “Physical sunscreens contain blocking ingredients such as Zinc of Titanium oxide [which] sit on the surface of the skin, creating a protective barrier from UVA and UVB rays.” As sun damage is one of the main determinants of how our skin “weathers” over time, you can also look into clothing and accessories that offer UPF, as well.
Ah, sleep is perhaps our favorite item on this list. Now that it is doctor-recommended we can all catch zzzs extra-soundly. “Sleeping between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. is crucial for optimal health and healthy skin,” Goldfaden begins. “Collagen is built during nighttime, there is increased blood flow, and the skin can rest and repair while being safely protected from UV rays and environmental stressors.”
xx, The FabFitFun Team