What is the first thing you notice about people? Is it their hairstyle, the kind of shoes they are wearing, or maybe their physique? First impressions are usually quite general, and based upon physical appearance, namely, the overall health and well-being of the person being scrutinized. The main visual clues humans use to perceive the health of another person are based on the appearance of the eyes, teeth, hair, figure and skin.
It might be difficult for many us to change our body’s shape or hair texture, but developing healthy skin is a goal that is easily in reach for most of the population. In addition to improving your physical appearance, the practice of actively developing healthy skin helps us prevent cancer and premature aging. Skin is the body’s largest, most visible organ, and it reflects pretty accurately the health of the person it wraps around. Here are some tried and true tips for healthy skin in your 20s.
1. DO NOT SMOKE! If you are currently a smoker, even a part-time smoker, immediately drop your cigarette in an ashtray, pick up the rest of your pack and crush it under your heel. Let’s not pretend- smoking never brought anything good to anyone. You can make up all kinds of excuses- “it makes my singing sexier” or “it calms me down after work”- but you and I both know that smoking is a surefire way down the wheezy path to wrinkles, emphysema, lung cancer and death. Furthermore, girls who smoke don’t exude a sexy or ladylike image, especially when their skin turns the texture of a leather suitcase. After a long night of drinking and smoking, one usually wakes up with a heinous headache and a mouth so dry and disgusting that it feels like you’ve been sucking on a cat turd all night. Don’t be that guy (or girl).
People often blow out of proportion how difficult it is to stop a smoking habit. Many companies make a big profit from selling stop smoking aids or books or self-help programs, so they have a vested interest in people stopping smoking and then picking up the habit once again. Do not let these people, or the filthy, death-dealing tobacco companies, profit from your loss. Stop smoking today. Many people are able to do this every single day- you have the willpower to stop. Get your friends and family behind you for support, put the $4 a day you spend on cigarettes away in a jar to save up for pampering, do whatever it takes- just do not put another lit cigarette in your mouth ever again. This is the number one thing you could possibly do to improve your health, appearance and overall well-being.
If you don’t smoke, congratulations. Give yourself a big hug for being so intelligent.
2. LIVE JUICY. Do everything you can to keep your body hydrated and happy. Drink at least eight glasses of water, juice or tea a day, and even more if you are exerting yourself. Try to drink a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages, and definitely drink a couple glasses of water before you go to bed on nights when you’ve been drinking. Your skin and internal organs will gladly thank you come morning. Part of living juicy means steering clear of things that will dry you out, such as sugary, acidic soda pop. Avoid it. Switch to tea or coffee if you need the caffeine, but soda is bad for you and your beautiful outer covering. Scientists still have not concluded whether or not coffee is dehydrating. Your best bet is to drink it in moderation if you enjoy it. Moderation means only two cups or less daily. You can do it! After about four weeks of juicy living, you will notice a difference in the plumpness and luster of your skin, guaranteed.
3. MOVE AROUND. Being active increases the blood flow to your skin, resulting in a rosy, dewy glimmer that just can’t be purchased in a tube. Try to get some exercise for 30 minutes daily. Exercise is any activity that gets your blood flowing, increases your heart rate and causes you to sweat. You could run, bike, swim, do yoga, mow the lawn, dance around in your underwear to P-Funk songs; whatever it takes to get you off of the couch and moving around. As an added bonus, you will feel much better after exercising than if you had just laid around watching an OC marathon on television.
4. CLEANSE, EXFOLIATE, MOISTURIZE. This is the skin care trifecta. No, you don’t need to purchase expensive creams, powders and potions to have lovely skin. Yes, you do have do be diligent in your maintenance of your skin. This means undergoing the Cleanse, Exfoliate, Moisturize process on a daily basis. If you can find and afford skin care products with all-natural ingredients like lavender, soy or ecinacea, by all means use them. However, if the pricier products are out of your reach, just go to the drugstore and buy the best products you can that contain Vitamin E and SPF. Avoid products containing alcohol, which is drying, and lanolin, which clogs the pores.
Clean your face when you wake up in the morning to get rid of sweat, oil and bacteria that accumulated while you slept. Clean it again before you go to bed at night, taking care to clean off all makeup. Makeup can be a pesky little pore-clogging booger if you are not careful. It is imperative to wash it off before you sleep. Cleanse your face in a gentle circular motion for anywhere between 15-60 seconds. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Exfoliation is the process of scrubbing away dead skin cells, resulting in glowing, clear, youthful skin. Every 24 hours, the surface of the skin sheds a layer of dead cells, constantly renewing about every 28 days. Exfoliating helps the skin shed more evenly and consistently. Use a product that is not too harsh (it should not sting or scrape when rubbed into your skin), and if you have sensitive skin, only exfoliate every second or third day in order to prevent redness and irritation.
Moisturizers come in many different textures and consistencies for different skin types. The variety of choice can be overwhelming, and the best way to pick the moisturizer for you is through trial and error. You don’t want one that is too thick, or it will simply lie greasily on the top layer of skin like a wet rag. You don’t want one that is too lightweight, or you will have to apply it more than once a day in order to be properly moisturized. Whichever moisturizer you do choose should ideally include and SPF of at least 15. My personal favorite is Dermalogica’s Sheer Tint Moisture, which combines a moisturizer, sunscreen and tint all in one easy step. Apply the moisturizer to damp skin by putting dots or dollops on your forehead, cheeks, eyes, chin and neck, then stroking it over your skin in an upward motion until it all sinks in.
5. PAMPER YOURSELF. This does not necessarily mean run out and buy the most expensive skin care products you can find, or get weekly facials or Botox procedures. You can pamper yourself simply by being aware of the condition of your skin and giving it extra attention when it needs it. Make a home spa by steaming your face over a bowl of hot water and then applying a mask for 10 minutes. Shave your legs often, and use a luxuriously scented lotion all over your body, paying attention to how great it feels sinking into your smooth, beautiful dermis. Or have a partner rub it in for you.
If you can afford it, getting a professional facial is something everyone should experience at least once. You can save change left over at the end of the day until you get about $50, and then splurge on this magnificent skin extravaganza. During a facial, you lay face up wrapped in a towel. Soothing music plays, while warm steam shoots into your face to open your pores. Then a trained skin professional works her magic unclogging pores, whisking away dead cells and deeply moisturizing your beloved baby fresh face and neck. You walk out looking and feeling like a million bucks, with the softest clearest skin you’ve had in months.
If you have special skin issues, such as stubborn acne, rosacea, or extremely sensitive or oily skin, the best thing to do is to seek out the advice of a professional dermatologist. Pretty, healthy skin is well within your grasp, with a little bit of awareness, determination and persistence on your part. The results are definitely worth it. Live juicy and be happy with your largest organ!
Note: None of the information in this article is scientifically based, but it does work, based on the personal experiences of myself and many others.