Five Ways You’re Destroying Your Skin

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Five Ways You’re Destroying Your Skin featured image
Photo Credits: Ken Kaminesky/Corbis

Skin that is less than ideal can arise from a variety of different causes, with the main ones being:

Dehydration: Even if you drink plenty of water, if your body is not utilizing it correctly, all of the layers of skin may not receive the hydration needed. Drinking water is the best way to keep the body hydrated— if you don’t like the taste of plain water, add lemon or cranberry to it, which will also provide pH-balancing benefits. Dehydrated skin actually stems from internal dehydration. When the body is deficient in water, the organs become dehydrated, too, as does the skin. If your skin is dehydrated, very fine lines may be present, the overall skin color will be flat and the skin will feel dry and inflexible.

Lack of Exercise: If you think that the only benefit of exercise is a better body, guess again. “Exercise is essential because it helps stimulate the lymphatic system, which keeps everything moving, especially the blood. Proper blood flow is crucial for not only a healthy glow, but to fuel the underlying cells so that they can function at their best,” says celebrity aesthetician Nerida Joy.

Smoking: Smoking is extremely damaging to the skin since it depletes the body of vitamin C and accelerates the rate at which collagen and elastin are broken down. “Smoking is a big factor in causing unhealthy skin,” says Staten Island, NY, dermatologist Michael Kurzman, MD. The chemicals in cigarettes suck moisture out of the skin, making it look and feel dry.

Diet: The digestive system and skin have a reciprocal effect on each other. “Certain foods work to positively influence how the skin behaves,” says Nerida Joy. “It’s not about what’s missing from your diet, it’s more about what you can and cannot digest. If you can’t properly break food down, it won’t move throughout the digestive process and can actually cause you to become bloated and the skin to look sluggish.” Since the skin is a functioning organ, when not enough vitamins and minerals are ingested to fuel the body, the skin suffers.

The Sun: A top skin offender, the sun is a major cause of unhealthy skin. “Repeated sun exposure depletes collagen and elastin from within, making the skin less elastic and thinner, leading to wrinkles,” says Sarasota, FL, Dermatologist Elizabeth F. Callahan, MD. The sun is a known contributor of dark-colored spots and leathery, wrinkled-looking skin—an obvious sign of unfit and aged skin. Says Dr. Michael Kurzman, “The effects of the sun begin as soon as we are exposed to it at an early age. Years later, we start to see brown spots, red spots and wrinkles, and, if there is extreme damage, precancerous patches and skin cancer can occur.

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