Here are some surprising tricks to keep it healthy and glowing all year. From acne to eczema, there’s plenty that can go wrong. We round up the latest research on new ways to keep it positively glowing…
Cut out white bread for fewer spots
Although doctors have said diet has no bearing on acne, a recent Australian study showed that a low GI diet did help decrease spots. This means swapping white refined carbs such as bread, cereal and pasta for wholemeal varieties.
Sleep on your back to beat wrinkles
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sleeping in the same position night after night can lead to wrinkles that don’t disappear once you’re up. They also note that sleeping on your side increases wrinkles on the cheeks and chin, while sleeping face down gives you a furrowed brow. Your best bet for smoother skin is to sleep face up, on your back.
Eczema-proof your place of work
Hand dermatitis or eczema is the second most common reason for people taking time off work in the UK. Any role that involves using chemicals or getting hands repeatedly wet can be a trigger, with hairdressing, catering, cleaning and nursing the worst culprits. So it’s vital to always wear protective gloves, especially if you suffered from eczema as a child, as it can often recur in adulthood.
Don’t waste money on high SPFs
You might think sunblock SPF 100 would be twice as good as SPF 50, but there’s hardly any difference. SPF 50 blocks 98% of UV rays while SPF 100 blocks 99% – a tiny difference in protection for the huge price difference. As most of us use only half the amount of sun-cream we need, you’re better off doubling the amount of sunblock than doubling the SPF.
Sip some red wine
Grapes contain one of the most powerful anti-ageing antioxidants yet discovered – resveratrol. Studies suggest it can help maintain a youthful complexion by fighting damaging free radicals. But don’t overdo it. A small glass of red wine every other day will boost your intake. Or try grape juice as an alternative.
Try giving your face a good rub
Not only does it feel great, a facial massage can help stimulate fibroblasts (connective cells) in the skin to release collagen and restore some of the elasticity that’s lost as we age. But don’t pay someone to do it. Just five minutes a night massaging in your favourite moisturiser, using sweeping movements, will have just the same effect.
Tuck into turkey
This often-forgotten low-fat meat contains a vital skin-friendly protein called carnosine that slows down a process in the skin called cross-linking.
When this happens, fibres grow in the skin’s collagen, making it stiff and less elastic. This stops it snapping back when you do things like smile or frown – and is what causes laughter lines and crow’s feet. Use turkey in place of chicken in stir-fries and salads.
Get your oats
Oats are one of the few natural ingredients approved by the stringent Food and Drug Administration in America for their beneficial effects on skin problems. They contain phytoalexins, which have a soothing and anti-irritant effect on the skin. Studies have shown that an oat-based skincare regime can bring about a significant improvement in people with mild to moderate eczema.
Speed up your cell turnover
While skin of all ages produces new cells which gradually move to the surface and shed, the older you get, the slower this process becomes. Dead cells stay on the surface for much longer, resulting in that dull, dehydrated look. “Gentle exfoliation with a damp flannel or using a skin cream that contains retinoids (check the label) can help boost cell turnover,” says dermatologist Francesca Fusco.
Ditch trans fats
These man-made fats are damaging to your skin, according to Harley Street dermatologist Dr Ariel Haus. Listed on the label as ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil’, some supermarkets have banned trans fats from own-brand products but it’s still possible to buy biscuits, cakes and other processed food that contain them.
One big scientific discovery is that your state of mind can affect your skin. Stress releases hormones that can make acne, eczema and other conditions worse. Try yoga, reading or any other relaxing activity you enjoy. Just taking a few minutes at the end of the day to sit and take deep breaths – counting to 10 on the ‘in’ breath and 10 on the ‘out’ – can make a difference.
Boost fish intake
Healthy skin is maintained by fat. In particular, getting more of the essential omega-3 fats found in salmon and other oily fish can help to keep skin supple and ease conditions like eczema. US dermatologist Dr Nicholas Perricone even credits omega-3s with reducing the skin inflammation that is responsible for sagging and wrinkles. One to two portions a week will boost your intake.