Skincare From The Inside Out: Health Habits That Affect Your Skin
Posted by Nikki Wisher on Mar 14th 2023
If you’re looking to improve your skin, you probably head straight for the topical products and start playing the old “try and see” game. You wouldn’t be wrong – topical skin care products can have a fantastic effect on your skin if you use the ones best suited for your skin and use them properly. But your skin is part of your anatomy and it’s just as affected by your internal health as your liver, heart, and other organs. Are you practicing health habits that negatively affect your skin?
Most of us aren’t doing our skin justice because we have at least one or two habits that aren’t skin-healthy, and you can’t rely on topical products to fix an internal issue. To help you make lifestyle changes that support more beautiful skin and a healthier you, I’m calling out the top habits that could be stopping your skin from being its best self.
Using Tobacco or Nicotine
It’s probably no surprise that smoking is bad for your skin, but it is a surprise for many people that other forms of tobacco and nicotine will also affect your skin. In fact, they can damage your skin in several ways.
For one, nicotine restricts the blood flow to your skin. Blood is the highway that brings your skin the oxygen and nutrients it needs to be healthy, so cutting down that supply will damage your skin.
Second, the chemicals in tobacco break down specific proteins called collagen and elastin. These proteins are the superstars that make skin firm, smooth, and youthful. The faster they break down, the more premature aging you will have.
Third, most forms of tobacco or nicotine use lead you to make certain repetitive motions like curling your mouth around a cigarette or vape pen, or squinting your eyes against smoke or vapor. Those repetitive motions will, over time, keep your muscles tense and lead to fine lines and wrinkles.
Eating Too Much Sugar
I know, trust me, I’m not a fan of this either as someone with a perpetual sweet tooth. But the fact is that excess sugar does impact your skin.
When you eat too much sugar, your body can’t process it all with insulin, so the excess sugar stays in your bloodstream. That sugar then bonds with collagen and elastin in your skin, which breaks down those vital proteins more quickly. On top of this, sugar tends to trigger inflammation throughout your body including in your skin, so it can contribute to skin irritation and acne.
Eating Too Few Antioxidants
There are plenty of reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables, and one of those reasons is your skin. Those whole food are packed with nutrients your body needs to support healthy skin.
Most notably, fruits and veggies are full of antioxidants – certain nutrients that protect you from free radicals by neutralizing them. If left unchecked, free radicals will damage your skin and can lead to premature aging, dullness, uneven complexion, and more.
You can give your body some of the antioxidants it needs with antioxidant-rich skin care products, but your diet needs to play a part too. Some of the most antioxidant-rich foods include:
- Red beans
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
- Dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens
Taking Antibiotics Unnecessarily
Antibiotics are instrumental in getting you healthy in very specific circumstances, but they can backfire if they’re overused. When you take antibiotics, they don’t just kill the bad bacteria that are making you sick. They kill all kinds of bacteria, including the good bacteria in your gut which produce some of the most essential materials you need for your skin health (and other aspects of your health).
This isn’t to say you should avoid antibiotics at all costs. Only take antibiotics when your doctor has prescribed them and be honest with your doctor about your symptoms so they can ensure that antibiotics truly are the best choice. If your doctor does prescribe antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed.
Sleeping Too Little
Not getting all your Zs? It could show up on your skin. While you sleep, your body is hard at work on many functions including repairing and regenerating cells. When you aren’t getting the sleep you need, your body doesn’t have the time to heal skin damage. This can lead to a variety of skin issues including premature aging.
Poor sleep also affects your skin barrier and its ability to function well. That leaves your skin more vulnerable to dryness and damage.
Skipping the Gym
Exercise affects just about every aspect of your health, and yes, that includes your skin. The most important impact it has is enhancing the blood flow to your skin, which supplies your skin with the oxygen and nutrients it needs. That alone is a big deal but working out regularly also helps by regulating your sleep schedule, reducing stress, and addressing other factors that affect your skin. Just remember to use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer after each workout.
Enhancing Your Skin from the Inside Out
The skin is a much more complex organ that people give it credit for, and unless you have naturally balanced and low-maintenance skin, you won’t fix all your woes with a few creams and serums. Combining a quality topical skin care routine with other healthy habits is the recipe for that gorgeous glow we all want. Start cutting out the damaging habits above and watch those results start to show.