We all want healthy, glowing and clear skin. What are the main things ALL girls should be doing to help their skin along? Dermatologist Dr Michelle Rodrigues gives us some clarity, and dispels some myths.
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The most important thing to know is that the stuff you see on TV and in magazines is edited. Research shows that the majority of images in advertisements and on TV are photo-shopped. What does this mean? It means that ‘flawless’ or totally ‘clear’ skin is something that very few people are blessed with. Images do not equal reality.
The majority of us have little lumps, bumps and rashes on the skin from time to time. And of course, those dreaded pimples affect many people from teenagers right through to older adults. The important thing to know is that you are not alone and that your local doctor or a dermatologist (a doctor who specialises in looking after skin conditions) is there to help!
Some things to remember:
— It’s all about sunscreen!
The number one thing to remember as part of your skincare regimen is sunscreen! Believe it or not, sun exposure is the major reason that people’s skin tends to look dull and wrinkled with dark spots as they get older. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF or 50+ is important but it is also important to look for one that says “high UVA protection” on it.
Sunscreen doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. Look around at your pharmacy for some brands, try samples first and pick the one that suits your skin type and colour.
Make sure you get an ultra-violet (UV) light app on your smartphone so you know to put your sunscreen on when the UV is 3 or more. Sometimes the UV index is really high even when the sun is not shining. Sunsmart has a great app that is free to download!
— Lather it on…
In addition to sunscreen, a simple cleanser and moisturiser are really important. You can’t get moisture into your skin by drinking water, but you can improve the texture of your skin by using a soap-free cleanser for your face and a soap-free wash in the shower (again, just head to your chemist to get a good one).
The good news is that you don’t have to spend over $25 to get a product that will do a good job.
Be sure that you aren’t having long hot showers over winter – this will literally zap moisture from your skin making it flaky and lifeless.
After your shower, use a moisturiser without perfumes, preservatives or parabens to keep your skin supple and silky smooth year-round!
— Every puff is hurting your skin!
We all know about the many health risks associated with smoking but smoking also damages the top and second layers of the skin as well as the blood vessels that bring nutrients to the skin. It makes it thinner, more susceptible to skin cancers, causes more wrinkles and makes the skin dull and lifeless.
— You are what you eat.
Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet rich in vitamins and nutrients will ensure your skin is being ‘well fed.’ Foods rich in good fats (like avocado, whole eggs and salmon to name a few), leafy green vegetables and nuts and seeds are all good for your body and are also good for your skin. But contrary to popular belief, drinking more water doesn’t get rid of dry skin.
Think of it this way: a diet that is good for your general health will also be good for your skin.
—It’s all hype…
There are many lotions and potions that advertising companies will try to make us believe we need to have healthy skin. But the truth is, a good sunscreen, cleanser and moisturiser is all most people need until they hit their mid-20’s. Then, there are some other active ingredients like niacinamides and vitamin A that may be needed to assist with inflammation, pigment or fine lines.
— Secret women’s business.
Acne affects more than 85% of adolescents so hormones can definitely affect our skin but sometimes acne can seem to only surface just before or around “that time of the month”. It is important to see your local doctor or a dermatologist to take a look at your skin and recommend treatment for you if it is needed.
Sometimes tests need to be done to ensure there is no underlying hormonal problem that is causing your acne, like polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Acne can be very successfully treated and this is important because no one likes a heap of pimples on their face and no one wants to have to deal with the scarring that is left behind, either. So get your acne examined and treated early!
— Not all skin is created equal.
As a dermatologist with Indian heritage, I have experienced first-hand how darker skin types are different to lighter ones. People with skin of colour (that is, people with Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian and African skin types for example) tend to have more blackheads, temporary brown/black marks on the skin after inflammation (like acne, cuts, burns, rashes), drier skin and are more prone to severe scarring (keloid scarring) than people with lighter skin. This is because people with darker skin types have more active pigment (melanocytes) and collagen (fibroblasts) making cells in the skin and because more water is lost through the skin surface in those with darker skin.
There are benefits, though! Darker skin types are less likely to develop skin cancers and deep wrinkles over time.
Many sunscreens are not suitable for darker skin types because they tend to look white or grey when applied to the skin. So try to look for ones that blend into the skin well. There are a few good brands around that don’t cost much and are easily found in chemists everywhere.