You may be one of the lucky ones who inherited “good skin genes.” If not, plenty of studies consistently prove the benefits of good personal skincare habits. Below are the personal habits this dermatologist incorporates daily.
Things I do daily to keep my skin healthy
I run early in the morning before work. Whatever exercise you like, do it at least 5 days per week. There is little doubt daily exercise improves skin appearance and health.
Brief shower using lukewarm water, and a mild cleanser
My 8:00 am shower is short as water itself can cause skin dryness, particularly hot water. I use a mild soap-free cleanser applied neck to toe despite the lack of studies that show cleanser is actually beneficial to healthy skin, with the exception of hand washing. Since bacteria and oily secretions on the skin’s surface can cause body odor, I choose to use cleanser.
After showering, I apply a body moisturizer to all the body surfaces I can reach, though I know skin moisturizes itself. Skin has an amazing ability to draw water from its deeper layers, and prevent moisture from evaporating into the environment. Unfortunately, this capability decreases with age. I feel the need to use moisturizer now that I am over 50, particularly on cold dry winter days. A well-formulated moisturizer can increase the water content of the most superficial layers of skin. Hydrated skin looks optimal and is healthier, improving the skin’s ability to protect the body from outside challenges like bacteria, fungus, allergens, and ultraviolet light. So moisturize, especially after showering when you just washed all those healthy skin lipids down the drain.
Apply sunscreen – the skincare product you can’t live without
Sunscreen is the most important skincare product on the market. Studies show using sunscreen correctly is the single best preventative of the signs and symptoms of aging skin, including pigmentation and fine wrinkling. It is also, by far, the single best protection from skin cancer, short of avoiding sunshine altogether. My preference is a beeswax based solid sunscreen applied liberally to my face, ears, neck, upper chest, and back of my hands. Choose a solid, spray, lotion or cream sunscreen, they all work as long as you apply it daily, liberally and often to all exposed surfaces.
Eat your fruits and veggies, but pass on applying vitamins to your face
I try to eat a well-balanced colorful diet every day. Ample studies show a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables providing a good source of antioxidants represents the healthiest and safest way to maintain skin health and optimal appearance. Skin is an organ, and as such, often reflects the general inner health of the individual. I do not apply vitamins to my face in any form. For example, I pass on Vitamin C serums because the low pH necessary for it to be active burns when applied. I also avoid retinoids, though I did apply the “anti-wrinkle” prescription cream, tretinoin, for several years at the beginning of my midlife crisis years ago, and saw absolutely no difference except for scaling, dryness and a persistent mild irritation.
Get my zzz’s
I personally need 8 ½ hours of sleep a night. I get it, most nights anyway. The health benefits of sleep to both general and skin health are well documented; adequate sleep improves the skin’s ability to bounce back from a variety of environmental stressors like dryness and sun exposure.
The last habit I try include daily in my life is to laugh…often. I believe the health benefits of laughter are many and should be added to the list. I’ll count it as half a habit, not because it’s less important, but because I don’t yet have hard evidence of the benefits. Do yourself a favor and incorporate laughter into your daily routine along with exercise, moisturizer, sunscreen, healthy eating and good sleep habits.
Fayne Frey, M.D., is a board-certified clinical and surgical dermatologist practicing in West Nyack, New York, where she specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. She has consulted for numerous media outlets, including NBC, USA Today, and, the Huffington Post, and educates consumers on effective skincare treatments at FryFace.com. She is a fellow of both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society for Dermatologic