Healthy Skin by the Numbers
4 habits that harm your skin
Smoking. Think about the facial expressions smokers make while sucking on a cigarette – lips puckered to take a puff, eyes squinted to block the burning sensation from the smoke. That pucker-and-squint routine may contribute to formation of fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth and eyes. Also, the many chemicals contained in cigarettes can compromise your skin’s collagen and elastin production. When these lag, your skin sags and wrinkles. One of the chemicals – nicotine – narrows the blood vessels in your skin, stifling blood flow and denying the skin of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Smoking can also spark flare-ups of the skin condition psoriasis.
Drinking alcohol. Alcohol goes to your head – and to your skin. Where smoking constricts blood flow to your skin, alcohol has the opposite effect. Alcohol dilates blood vessels and flushes the skin with blood, and too much drinking may lead to the appearance of small blood vessels on the skin. Those with skin conditions or alcohol intolerances may also suffer red-faced flare-ups when they drink. Finally, rather than quenching your thirst, alcohol dehydrates and gives skin a sallow, dull appearance. So, next time you toast, say “Cheers!” to a more even complexion by choosing a non-alcoholic drink.
Overdoing it with caffeinated beverages. Count up your caffeine intake for a day. If you knock back daily soft drinks, coffees, teas, energy drinks, or hot chocolates, you might be in the caffeine danger zone. Consume the caffeine equivalent of 4 to 7 cups of coffee, and it can have a diuretic effect. Basically, you’ll pee a lot and become dehydrated. This loss of liquids leaves your skin thirsty and more prone to drying and dullness.
Not tracking your skin problem triggers. Pay attention to your skin. It sends you signals. Drinking alcohol, smoking, and eating certain foods can all cause flare-ups of certain skin conditions. When you begin to notice a pattern to your skin problems, you can avoid the triggers. For instance, the facial redness and swelling of rosacea may be set off by spicy foods, hot drinks, alcohol, as well as by particular foods like vinegar, liver, and soy sauce for some people. For some people with eczema, the itchy, dry patches seem to spring up after eating things like eggs, milk, fish, tomatoes, and peanuts.
Author: Amy Toffelmire