Our skin is the body’s biggest organ – so it should be a top priority when taking care of ourselves.
But with literally thousands of products on the market all telling us that they’re the answer to our woes, it can be tricky knowing where to start.
Take the most recent skin care craze: charcoal. Yep, charcoal.
According to GQ magazine, charcoal-based skin care is “starting to pop up everywhere”, but a bar of charcoal soap costs almost $17.
That’s pretty expensive for something that will just get stuck on the floor of the shower.
To save you that indignity, The New Daily spoke to skin and nutrition experts who told us how to score great skin without too much time or money.
By doing things like taking care in the sun, watching what you do at work and checking your diet, you can make a big difference.
Things to avoid
Spokesperson for the Australasian College of Dermatologists Dr Chris Quirk says there are many “external factors” people can address for better skin.
“The big one is sunshine,” Dr Quirk says.
“Medically it damages the collagens so you get wrinkles, it damages the skin so you get freckles and then that causes skin cancer.
“One of the things people say is, ‘it’s going to be 40 years before I get skin cancer so I’ll tan,’ and they’ll get too much sun and damage the collagens and they’ll be prematurely wrinkled and freckled and will look like an old leather handbag when they’re 40.
“It is important to realise you can’t insult the skin forever and it not kick back and show signs of damage.”
He also said smoking was a surefire way to have prominent wrinkles on your face.
And depending on your job, you might be doing damage, Dr Quirk says.
“If you handle harsh chemicals, for example as a bricklayer, a chef or in cleaning products when washing your hands a lot, or in professions like hairdressing, that is going to damage your hands, and then maybe your face if you touch it after.”
Things to try
Dr Quirk says keeping your face clean is best achieved with a foaming cleanser because it “gets oil out from the pores”.
He says the cleanser you should choose depends on your skin type: dry, oily or sensitive.
“If you work outdoors sunscreen is important, even if you’re out at lunchtime for half an hour,” Dr Quirk adds.
“A lot of women use foundation with sunscreen in it, but many generally won’t, even though they’re good.”
Alcohol-based sunscreens are good, he adds, because they aren’t “sticky or unpleasant to wear”.
“In Australia the biggest thing with skin health is the sun. The damage is done in teens and twenties.
“If you use sunscreen now you’re skin will look better when you’re older.”
Dr Quirk also advises using simple moisturisers and, to avoid razor bumps, applying antiseptic cream before and after shaving.
Start from the inside
Dietician from the Dietician’s Association of Australia Maria Packard, tells The New Daily the starting point to eating for healthy skin is to eat for a healthy body.
“People who are healthy, have a healthy lifestyle and an overall healthy diet will have the best chance of achieving the best skin possible,” Ms Packard explains.
“It is important to drink enough water and eat a good range of foods. Do you leave certain food groups out?
She says once you make sure your whole eating plan is appropriate, without too much processed food, saturated fat and salt, then you can begin to be more specific.
“Fruit and vegetable intake is the best one to pinpoint when looking at skin,” Ms Packard says.
“They’re very rich in Vitamin C and if you’re looking at skin specifically, Vitamin C is essential in the bodies collagen production.
“Antioxidants are important too for skin. They help fight tissue damage and help create healthy cells.”
She also says if people have specific skin problems – like eczema which is helped by omega 3 – targeted food types can be beneficial.
Ms Packard adds: “B group vitamins in general help with skin and tissue as well. People who have vitamin b12 deficiency can look quite pale.
“You’ll find this in meat products, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals and low fat dairy.”