November is National Healthy Skin Month

Your skin quite simply reflects the state of your health. Healthy skin is not only important to look well but also to be well. It is important to keep the integrity of your skin healthy because it is a major component of keeping the rest of you healthy, because it acts as strong protective barrier between you and the environment.

So often we ignore the state of our skin and expose it to many harmful environmental hazards without thinking. Let’s celebrate Healthy Skin Month by learning some basics that will serve over a lifetime.

Before spending a lot of money on skincare products you might want to think about your own skincare regime. Do you properly cleanse your skin and wear sunscreen every day? If you are a young person adopting even these two simple practices will make a difference in the long run, and if you are older, starting now will help you prepare your skin for a healthy aging process.

The importance of wearing sunscreen every day whether it is sunny and bright or overcast, winter or summer, cannot be overstated. Other sun protection measures include wearing a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, and long pants, avoiding going outside between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., re-applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every two hours or so, and never use tanning beds. There is no such thing as a safe suntan.

The National Healthy Skin Month is a public health and awareness campaign that aims to raise awareness on the importance of having healthy skin and for educating people about the most common skin problems and how they can be prevented.

This educational campaign also helps inform people about how skin cancer can be prevented through simple processes such as rigorous application of sunscreen.

You should seek professional skin care help for problems. The most common skin problems in the United States are: acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and skin cancer.

Acne is a skin disorder that causes pimples usually on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders. It is caused by a clogging of the passageways connecting the oil glands of the skin and the pores. It can come in several forms, including the most common type which causes the formation of blackheads and whiteheads.

The most severe types of acne are nodular and cystic acne, which forms deep scars in the skin. The statistics indicate that around 80 percent of Americans develop acne at some point in their lives.

Eczema causes itchy, dry and red patches of skin due to inflammation. It is common in children, but adults also suffer from eczema. It is commonly known as atopic dermatitis and can be treated with oral medications, light therapy and the use of steroid creams available from your dermatologist or skin care professional.

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a type of skin disorder that causes oily waxy patches that develop usually in the scalp. Normally, it affects about 5 percent of the population and commonly occurs in babies. This condition can also re-appear during puberty.

Skin cancers are the most common type of cancer in American and is the primary reason for creating the educational component of National Healthy Skin Month. Every year about 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer and about 20 percent will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

The most common types of skin cancer are squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma which are treatable and not too disfiguring if caught early.

However, a third type — melanoma — is a deadly and aggressive form of skin cancer and it causes 75 percent of the deaths associated with skin cancer. Sunscreen is an imperative!

Some healthy practices for glowing skin include avoidance of long steamy showers, keeping well hydrated inside and out (drink plenty of water and use a moisturizer on your skin), keeping your hands off your face, but using proper cleansing to rid your skin of excess oil and dirt by exfoliating at least several times a week.

See a dermatologist annually, especially to take a look at hard to see and reach places on your body. Choose cosmetics and skin care products with care and with knowledge.

Don’t smoke! Smoking has considerable negative effects on skin including reducing blood-flow — depleting the skin of oxygen, and vital nutrients. It also damages the elastic fibers and collagen in the skin which causes premature aging.

Take the time to evaluate your skin in terms of its hydration levels, oiliness, pigmentation, redness, elasticity and softness. From observation of these parameters you should be able with the help of a skincare professional develop a workable skin care routine that will meet your needs.

Skin cleansers are fundamental to every skincare regime. Cream cleansers are intended to scrub off impurities and toxins from your skin and they are most effective if they are applied two or three times successively in order to promote blood circulation to the skin.

If you have dry or mature skin, cream cleansers are beneficial because they are less alkaline than foaming soaps and so they help balance your oil levels. Milk cleansers are milder than cream cleansers and contain more water so they are ideal for dry skin because they help boost hydration without eroding the skin’s natural oils.

Soaps are intended to deeply clean the skin and remove excess oils and dirt. Organic foaming cleansers should not contain harsh detergents but should contain hydrating ingredients such as aloe vera or other plant extracts. These soaps are intended for people with oily or normal to oily skin types.

After cleansing, toning is an important step in refining your skin’s appearance and increasing its water content as well as normalizing the pH level and cleaning off any residual cleanser. Choose a toner that has active herbs and essential oils to tone the skin.

Selecting the correct moisturizer is important because the moisturizer stays on the skin all day. If your skin is dry and mature, the moisturizer should have rich plant oils that will provide essential nutrients like fatty acids and vitamins.

Mature skin will also benefit from anti-aging nutrients that support collagen and elastin structure such as rhizobian gum. Those with oily skin should regulate excess oil through slightly moisturizing with a light cream to offer nutrients and hydration while maintaining skin balance.

If your skin is inflamed, using a light moisturizer with anti-inflammatory ingredients that will help soothe the skin and bring your skin into balance.

Regular exfoliation is crucial in helping removal of dead skin cells and in exposing lively more youthful cells. Exfoliation should be done at least two times a week to cleanse and stimulate blood flow to your face.

Face masks are intended to hydrate the skin with oil and moisture or to purify the skin with concentrated cleansers and detoxifiers such as clays. They should be left on for the recommended amount of time and then removed gently with warm water.

Your skin is important to your health and to your appearance. Put your best face forward with proper skin care. To learn more about National Healthy Skin Month please join me on my TV show on local Ho’ike Channel 54 every weekday at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. in November. My guest will be Europe-trained esthetician Liz Fletcher from Paradise Day Spa in Old Town Kapaa and we will discuss skincare tips that are meant for you.

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Jane Riley is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-8119 cell/text, www.janerileyfitness.com and www.discoverthis.isagenix.com

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