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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Keep skin moist and supple

Use these simple tips to longer lasting youthful and wrinkle free skin
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - September 9, 2010
By: Sheila Lim
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Keep skin moist and supple

Leathery skin looks good on the iconic Marlboro cowboy because it adds to his ruggedness. But it won’t be as flattering on city slickers like us who live and work in a society where youth is highly valued.

Weather conditions (such as sun exposure, arid air and wind), use of medication, illnesses, unhealthy lifestyle and poor dietary habits, and lack of proper skincare can cause our skin to become dehydrated; if we don't do something about it fast enough, the unflattering consequences will be reflected in our skin in forms such as wrinkles and dry, flaky skin.

Not only our appearance will suffer, but our health too, as dry skin can lead to ailments like eczema and dermatitis.

Skin hydration is thus vital for healthier and younger-looking skin. To keep our skin in prime condition, we must first be aware of the common causes of skin dehydration: 

Not drinking enough water  
The body loses two to three litres of water daily from biological processes like breathing, perspiring and urinating. With higher levels of physical activity, we can even lose up to two litres an hour!

Once the body loses two per cent of its normal water volume, mild dehydration symptoms such as thirst will occur. To stay well hydrated, you should drink at least eight glasses of water over the course of the day, and not wait till you feel thirsty. Water also helps the kidneys to flush out toxins from your body, and this has an impact on the general condition of your skin and health.

Not taking proper care of your skin

If the facial cleanser, washing lotion or body soap you are using leaves your skin feeling dry and taut, it’s best to chuck it. Some cleaning products may contain ingredients like alcohol, astringents and fragrances that are too harsh on your skin, and cause it to become dry and itchy.

Your skincare routine matters as well. If you cleanse your face or bathe too many times a day, you will be stripping your skin of sebum – the layer of oil that helps to protect the skin, keep it supple and prevent moisture loss.

Hot water and dry, cold air are also bad for skin – these elements dry up skin and can cause outbreaks like rashes. So it’s best to take avoid taking hot and/or long baths, and get regular doses of fresh air instead of constantly staying in an air-conditioned environment.

Not protecting the skin with sunscreen
Prolonged exposure to UV radiation results in wrinkles, skin discoloration and spots, causing premature ageing. UV rays harm the skin by penetrating into its deeper layers, damaging DNA, destroying collagen and depleting essential nutrients within them.

Besides choosing a sunscreen of a suitable SPF (sun protection factor), we must also know how to use it correctly. Look for sunscreen offering broad-spectrum protection – that is, one that can block both UVA and UVB rays; apply it evenly and reapply whenever necessary.

Not moisturising skin regularly
Moisturisers contain ingredients like humectants and emollients, which help lubricate the skin and retain moisture in the process.

Moisturising is particularly important as we advance in age, or if we live in colder climates or are constantly in air-conditioned environments.

Smoking

Smoking harms the skin by inhibiting collagen production and constricting the blood vessels near the surface of the skin. Without collagen and oxygen, the skin develops wrinkles and takes on a leathery appearance.

The most telling signs of the damaging effects of smoking on the skin are wrinkles around the mouth, discoloured teeth and skin that is tighter than it should be. The longer and more frequently you smoke, the worse the damage and more irreversible it is.

Smokers who are able to kick the habit at an early age will have a better chance at stopping the damage done to the skin, and improving its condition by drinking plenty of water and eating properly to restore the depleted nutrients.

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