Photographer Violet A. Guerrero-Ponce
If you’re on twitter, I’m sure you’ve experienced the annoying skin care tweets that suggest all one needs to do for perfectly clear skin is drink water and mind their business.
Although that may be true for some people, it is simply not realistic. There are so many things that affect our skin beyond our water intake.
These are the top eight factors that affect the overall health of our skin:
Our health -- how much exercise we do or how many hours of sleep we get -- affect the overall look and feel of our skin. This is because our skin is a reflection of our insides. If we are unhealthy on the inside or battling with any illnesses or not sleeping enough, our skin is most likely to be dull. Where as if we are keeping our body active, feeding it good food, sleeping well, and staying away for chronic illnesses that is what our skin is most likely to reflect.
I like this factor, and at the same time, I hate it. Our hormones, especially as women, have the ability to overpower any healthy diet and top skin care regimen. If your body naturally produces a lot of cortisol -- the stress hormone -- or if your body does not have control of how often or how much estrogen it produces then your face is likely to reflect that. Hormones are responsible for teenage acne, late adult acne, breakouts during menstruation, and outbreaks during stressful times.
Growing up, I loved any website that disproved the old myth that pizza and chocolate cause acne. I’m still not sure if this myth is true or not, but the reality is that our food intake -- essentially, the way we fuel our body -- is a huge contributing factor to the health of our skin. Yes, our water intake falls into this category! However, we don’t just live off water. There are some people who find that cutting out just dairy while eating meat is good for their skin while some find eating a full vegan diet is what is best. Everyone's body is different, but it’s safe to say we should all stay away from fast food. I’m all for having things in moderation and bringing in more greens to balance tasty burgers. Not just for the benefits of clear skin, but for my overall health.
As we age, our skin loses its ability to retain water thus becoming more dehydrated with time. This dehydration affects our skin's elasticity and cell turnover. If you pull the top layer of skin on the top of your skin, how fast it snaps back is your elasticity. Cell turnover has more to do with how much time it takes the new cells living on the bottom layer of our skin to reach the source of our skin. In a younger person the cell turnover is 30 days, but as we age it takes more time.
I’m all for living your best life, that’s why I’m here to inform you about this one right here so that you can never say you never knew. Nicotine, alcohol, illegal drugs, medications, and coffee all affect how youthful, vibrant, and fresh our skins will look. Stay woke. Everything in moderation. That is all.
*Coffee is used in a lot of skin care products because of its caffeinated properties. It actually peps the skin making it look more awake when applied topically. But when ingested, coffee makes us dehydrated if we’re not balancing it out with a lot of water.
Our genes, similar to hormones, can’t be controlled. I would even say that this is more true for our genes because doctors have been able to regulate hormones with birth control. Our genes are responsible for pre-existing conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema. On the other end of this one are the more fortunate people whose genes allow them to live a perfect pimple free life.
When I feel less stressed, happier, and more in control of my life my skin looks amazing. When I’m on month three of dealing with a fuckboy, am emotionally drained, or struggling to find balance in my personal life my skin acts up on me. Has this happened to you? You’re not crazy. Our emotions impact how we feel and in return how our happy and stress hormones will act. If you ever feel frazzled and it’s going on for more than two days try to do things to bring you back to center if not for you, but for the sake of your skin.
You ever get caught waiting for the train, underground during rush hour, in the summer, and you literally feel yourself and you pores suffocating? Have you noticed any sun damage from believing if you use sunscreen you won’t tan? This is because pollution, sun exposure, humidity, dry air, the change in seasons and basically anything having to do with our immediate environment affects us. Our skin in our home. It’s is our biggest living and breathing organ. It is our shield and it is the first line of defense when we interest with the world. Please be mindful of this.
My personal journey of learning how to best take care of my skin is one that challenges me everyday. It forces me to find compassion, and to be gentle with wherever I am in my life at that moment. When I do a mask, for me it’s a form of self care. If I’m breaking out, then it’s a prompt to find ways to love myself through that. I’m an advocate for letting our skin breathe and so even when I am breaking out, I like to face the world without makeup. It feels liberating at times to not be so dependent on makeup and ideal beauty standards. Whether you’re into expensive beauty brands or at home remedies at the core of it all, we want to look our best. But we shouldn’t forget how much we can radiate from the inside out.