Celebrating National Healthy Skin Month: It takes care of you, so take care of it

Photo of someone putting on a face mask
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Our skin is our biggest organ and our body’s fiercest protector. Time to give some of that love back! The month of November is National Healthy Skin Month. No matter your complexion, age, gender identity or budget, there are simple things you can do to ensure your birthday suit is healthy and doing its job for you.

Sunscreen

You knew this would be first. As a daughter of a skin cancer survivor, I cannot stress the importance of protecting your skin from sun exposure enough. Moisturizers or foundation products that advertise sunscreen within them are not enough. Applying sunscreen should an everyday routine, but it is downright mandatory if you know you will be out in the elements for an extended period of time. Not only are sunburns painful and not cute, but they also increase the likelihood of wrinkles, sun spots and, most importantly, melanoma.

The five-step skin regimen

Dissociate taking care of your skin from the idea of adopting a “beauty” regimen. There are benefits beyond aesthetics to the five steps of skin care, and they don’t take very long at all. The first two steps can be done in the shower to save time: exfoliate and cleanse. Exfoliating using your favorite scrub gives your pores a deep clean to expel oils and dirt, which can cause acne and even lead to bacterial infections or rashes. Use warm water for exfoliating — the steam relaxes and widens the pores, which allows the exfoliant to get in there and do its job. After exfoliating, turn the water to a colder temperature when you use your cleanser. The cleanser does another round of surface cleaning and works with the cold water to tighten your squeaky-clean pores back up so they are more protected.

Toner is the third step; it is tricky and not for everyone. Its purpose is to add another sealant to close up your pores, yet it is very astringent and can dry skin out quickly. If you are prone to dry skin, you may want to skip this step. Now you are ready to moisturize. This is especially important if you choose to wear makeup because moisturizer acts almost like a protective layer over your skin against the makeup you will apply. If you do wear makeup, make sure to take it off before you go to bed. Not only can leaving makeup on increase chances of acne, but some chemicals in makeup can erode skin elasticity and resilience. It also gets all over your pillows. Trash.

The last step is — drumroll please — sunscreen! Sunscreen. Use it. Do it. Love it.

Eating for healthy skin

There are peer-reviewed studies that have found evidence that something as simple as a tomato can help defend against skin cancer. And the list goes on: Cocoa can help your skin be more resilient to harmful heat and sun exposure, mangoes boost collagen levels and green tea has properties that help skin damage heal more quickly from scars or skin conditions. There are many different theories out there relating to the best foods and diet for healthy skin. Do some research if you would like to see the benefits of a skin-healthy diet for yourself.

One more time for the cheap seats in the back: sunscreen

No excuses. There are plenty of brands of sunscreen that are less oily or that are made to be applied before makeup. The weather does not matter — in fact, cloudy skies can actually intensify sun exposure because they provide reflective surfaces for the sun’s rays.

Your skin takes care of your body, so we at the Clog hope that National Healthy Skin Month will inspire you to return the favor and take care of your skin. Lather up in that sunscreen, y’all.

Contact Morgan Saltz at [email protected].