We might give thanks to a lot of things, but our skin is not always one of them. But why not? Your skin is your largest organ, covering your entire body and protecting you from germs and pathogens. It deserves to be appreciated and thanked often and should certainly fall on the list of all that you’re grateful for. The good news is that it’s easy to give thanks to your skin. It takes some time and care, but in the end, you’ll be glad you made the effort, as your skin will feel and look amazing. Read on to learn how much your skin does for you and how you can pay it back.
What Your Skin Does for You Every Day (and Night)
First and foremost, skin protects. If we didn’t have skin for protection, every pathogen (including bacteria, virus, and fungi) we encountered throughout the day would severely impact our health. In fact, we wouldn’t even live very long without our skin. That’s because the many germs in the environment around us would lead to infections that could easily kill us. For that reason alone, skin deserves our utmost thanks.
The skin also regulates body temperature, protects against excessive water loss and allows for the sensations of touch, heat, and cold. Regulating body temperature is a very important part of your skin’s duties. When we get too cold, the skin causes blood vessels to constrict to move warm blood away from your skin to warm you up. When we get too hot, blood vessels move warm blood toward the skin so heat can be released. Sweating is another way the skin regulates temperature. When it’s too hot, sweat cools us down as it evaporates away from the skin.
Just as skin protects us, however, it’s our duty to protect it in return. Skin has many foes, including the sun, pollution, stress, and smoking. Of course, we’re all familiar with the dangers of the sun. UVA rays are long and penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer. They can lead to premature aging and premature wrinkle formation. UVB rays are shorter than UVA rays. They usually only affect the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, resulting in superficial burns and, at worst, skin cancer. Pollution can also bring about very adverse effects, though this is often less talked about than sun damage. However, pollution can also cause premature skin aging and skin cancer. The microscopic pollutants that enter our pores can lead to inflammation, dehydration, loss of elasticity and firmness and the breakdown of collagen. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology involving 400 participants aged between 70-80 years found that those living in rural areas had far fewer brown spots and wrinkling than those living in urban areas, owing to pollution from traffic and emissions from nearby coal factories.
Stress can also cause major skin problems, including the exacerbation of conditions like eczema and psoriasis. In extreme situations, stress can lead to the formation of hives and fever blisters, or cold sores. Stress has also been linked to acne in studies. As for how smoking impacts skin, it restricts blood flow, leaving your skin looking and feeling dry. Smoking also deprives your skin of essential nutrients like vitamin C, which helps repair skin. In fact, if you smoke, it’s like constantly exposing your skin to pollution. Smoke can even lead to increased free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage skin cells, leading to wrinkles and sagging. Sensitive skin is especially vulnerable to damage from pollution and smoking, as sensitivity is only exacerbated due to these factors.
Ways You Can Show Gratitude to Your Skin
- Cleanse, Exfoliate & Moisturize Regularly
Cleansing your skin thoroughly twice a day (morning and night) is essential to fighting off the effects of pollution. Daily cleansing, particularly at nighttime, also allows the nutrients in the various skincare products you use to work properly. When you don’t cleanse, you prohibit the vitamins in skin care products to enter your skin and nourish it. Exfoliation is also important for this very reason. It removes the surface layer of dead skin cells and allows new ones to flourish. Like cleansing, it also helps your skin absorb the necessary nutrients it needs to look and feel its best. Moisturizing keeps skin smooth and supple, but it also replenishes it with nutrients. Choose a moisturizer with plenty of vitamins to make sure you are reaping the full benefits of this product and skincare step. Vitamins A and B5, for example, are great for keeping skin firm. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E help repair skin damage. It’s also important to use a moisturizer with SPF to prevent sun damage. The skin on your face, neck, chest, and ears are especially vulnerable to sun damage and should be protected.
- Get a Facial
Treating yourself to a facial once a month or at least once every few months is an excellent way to thank your skin. A skilled esthetician will be able to deal with whatever skin problems you’re facing, whether they be pimples or signs of aging, and give you advice on how to treat these issues on your own. An esthetician will also be able to cater to your specific skin type, whether it’s oily, dry, combination or sensitive. Treating yourself to a facial can also help prevent certain skin woes, like breakouts or wrinkles, from becoming recurrent problems.
- Use a Face Mask
If you can’t afford a facial or simply don’t have the time, using a face mask about once a week can also be beneficial. There are a large variety of face masks to choose from, with different benefits from each one. The right face mask can help heal breakouts, remove excess oil, remove impurities, moisturize and provide the skin with good nutrients. Clay masks for example are excellent for removing impurities, minimizing the appearance of pores, absorbing oils and removing dead skin cells. Sheet masks are ideal for delivering nutrients deep into the skin. Some sheet masks are also great for moisturizing and calming the skin.
- Get A Facial Massage
The benefits of a facial massage have been proven by science. One study found that 45 minutes of facial massage activated the sympathetic nervous system and reduced anxiety in participants. So not only will the massage be good for your facial muscles, it will also help reduce stress. As stress has been linked to breakouts, lower stress levels can help reduce the frequency of lesions. Moreover, massages have been shown to improve blood circulation. Improved blood circulation results in an overall brighter complexion. Many facialists perform massages as part of getting a facial. You can also massage your own face while you cleanse and apply moisturizer and other skincare products as part of your routine.
- Clean Your Makeup Brushes & Phone Screens
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes we can simply forget to wash our makeup brushes and sponges and to clean our phone screens. Studies have repeatedly found that cell phones contain a very large number of germs. When we hold cell phones to our face, those germs inevitably get transferred to our facial skin where they can potentially lead to breakouts or even rashes. The same is true for makeup brushes and sponges. Makeup applicators need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the transfer of bacteria. This is a relatively easy thing you can do to show thanks to your skin.
- Use Quality Skincare
Don’t skimp on skincare. If you really value your skin, you will want to use only the best products. High-quality skincare doesn’t necessarily have to be the most expensive, however. Look for products that contain less irritants and more nourishing ingredients. Parabens, alcohol, some essential oils, synthetic colors and fragrances, sulfates and phthalates are some ingredients you’ll want to avoid, as they can be quite irritating. Skincare products formulated for sensitive skin and rich in vitamins and antioxidants should be your go-tos.