After 12 years in the dermal science field, skin therapist Diane Lehto believes that having beautiful healthy glowing skin starts from the inside out; taking care of the mind and body through good nutrition, and using good quality skin care products to help maintain a gorgeous glow. She shares her top 5 tips for healthy, glowing skin all year round…
We know how great our skin looks after we’ve had some much-needed time out. For me, usually a good exfoliation, a relaxing facial and rejuvenating mask does the trick; my skin looks healthy and has a nice glow. It’s amazing what good skin can do for your confidence. You feel brand new again.
There are many reasons why our skin suffers from time to time, and there are moments where we may wonder why our skin can be looking dull - even though we think we may be doing all the right things!
Our body is very clever and it lets us know if something is not quite right. But many of us fail to act upon these cues. If our car starts to splutter and malfunction, we put it in for a service to make sure it’s mechanically working well, right? The same should go for our bodies! However, unlike a car, our body and skin is a living thing; everything works synergistically to keep us healthy - and our organs functioning the way they should. Unhealthy skin is often a sign of what’s going on inside our bodies.
Our skin is the body’s largest organ, and we have our body for our whole life, so it makes total sense to take good care of it. When I speak to patients, I usually find that their bodies are letting them know that something is happening through their emotions, how they are physically feeling and how their skin looks.
Sunscreen is your best friend
Over 80% of premature ageing is caused by the Australian sun. And on top of that, we have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, which is astonishing. Keeping this information in mind, it is vital that we think of sunscreen as our best friend; the thing we can’t live without! Use it everyday, and even on those days where it may look cloudy outside and we think we don’t need it. The sun’s powerful rays are working even harder to penetrate through to your skin.
So what is the best sunscreen for our skin? Most of us believe the higher the SPF the better, right? Well that’s not necessarily true. The best way to protect your skin from UVA/UVB rays is to use zinc. The natural mineral power of zinc oxide will not only protect our precious skin from burning (UVB) but it will also help to shield our skin from ageing (UVA).
UVA penetrates much deeper into the skin, and is responsible for all of our unwanted pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles and skin cancers. So if there is one thing everyone can do to prevent this from happening, my secret weapon is sunscreen!
Our favorite go to broad spectrum for solar protection is Uber Zinc, the incredible 4 in 1 sunscreen/foundation with iron oxides for blue light protection - Mineral Whip and the Uber Zinc Body. Always remember to reapply every few hours, after going for a swim, or excessive sweating.
Dehydrated skin means fine lines
Picture what happens when you don’t water your garden for a days - especially during hot weather; you eventually find the leaves are all crispy and shrivelled up! Our skin wilts and dehydrates in the same way; premature fine lines start to be more visible, slackening starts to occur, we get puffiness and dark circles around the eyes - and we may even get a few breakouts. This is because our skin is crying out for some water. Our body is essentially made up of 80% water so if our skin is thirsty, it can look dull, and feel dry. Paradoxically, it can also feel oily due to lack of water. You might also notice enlarged pores and the skin can look shiny and feel tight.
Combine dehydration with regular hot showers, excessive coffee and alcohol consumption - and not drinking enough water - and your skin is on it’s way to ageing much quicker. Water helps your digestive system flush out toxins, prevents brain fog, bloating, helps with constipation, and it helps maintain a healthy and happy skin. When your skin is hydrated, fine lines are not as visible and your skin appears to be more clear. Click here to find out how much water our bodies actually need. Water consumption requirements vary between each individual, determined by how much daily activity you do, your age, weight and any medications that can affect fluid etc. The general rule is 4 to 6 cups of water a day, on top of your other fluid intake (tea, juice etc). A good indication is clear urine - if you urine is not clear, you might not be drinking enough.
Stressing less is best
“You need to relax!” We’ve all heard this one before and sometimes it’s easier said than done. With most of us leading much busier lives these days, the mountain of stress that we get from everyday life; family, work, financial burden, or illness can really take a toll on our mental and physical health. Stress can have a huge impact on our skin.
We don’t need to have big moments of stress to notice dull, unhappy skin. Low level everyday stress contribute and eventuate to high levels of anxiety, or depression, and it can take a toll on the skin.
When we are stressed our body releases the hormone cortisol, which contributes to the breakdown of collagen and elastin accelerating the ageing process, it can even bring on skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and it can stimulate the body to produce more oil, which can make our skin breakout. In general our skin can look tired; in some cases the body becomes so stressed, the skin becomes ultra sensitive, breaking out in a stress rash or hives - which makes the skin look red and feel dry. This is a big message from our body to take a step back and get some relax time.
How do we de-stress? There are many ways; and finding time doesn’t mean you need to spend 2 hours meditating everyday, it can simply start with 10 minutes. Finding that 10 minutes for yourself each day where you are interrupted, clearing the mind, whether it be practicing mindfulness and gratitude, going for a gentle walk, doing some stretches or listening to some music. Getting into a good routine of giving back to yourself, by finding the time to de-stress is an important part of slowing the ageing process down.
Remember that we all get stressed from time to time, and to not forget that we are only human. I believe we should give ourselves permission to be happy; be kind and talk kindly to ourselves more, because we deserve the very best, and we are all doing the best we can. It’s okay to have boundaries, and say no from time to time. We are not super human and need those boundaries and limits. If it all gets too much, there is also no shame in talking to someone. Whether it is a good friend, a professional counsellor, psychologist, or a friendly voice over the phone.
Regular self- care with a customised skin routine that is full of active vitamins and cosmeceuticals, including monthly facials is also a fantastic way to optimise the ageing process, and de-stress through relaxing, lymphatic drainage massage. Facials and good skin care go hand in hand. It’s like bringing your skin to the gym. You wouldn’t go to the gym, work out, then come home, sit on the couch only to eat hot chips! We need regular facials which will help to improve collagen, elastin, tone and texture, combined with good skin care to help treat our skin topically with only the best ingredients. Your skin will thank you for it later! Combining this with daily exercise and activity is essential for ultimate de-stressing, glowing skin, preventing fine lines and wrinkles and simply feeling great.
Eat well to feel good
Have you ever noticed how amazing your skin looks when you have been eating well? And do you also notice how dull the skin looks when you don’t?
The skin can have acneic breakouts, feel less hydrated and fine lines look more prominent when our nutrition is poor.
This is because we are not feeding the skin the right nutrients to glow from the inside out. We don’t have to eat perfect all the time, but making a few little changes can make all the difference to achieving your ultimate skin goals.
Research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in wild salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel, help restore and maintain healthy skin. It can also be found in Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed, seaweed, algae and walnuts. Other benefits include shiny hair, strong nails, heart and brain health - and the ‘holy grail’ of ageing: skin elasticity, as it improves the quality and texture of the skin, preventing wrinkles. For those who suffer with acneic breakouts, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the inflammation associated with this skin condition, and helping the skin to heal much quicker. Have a read about some of the other benefits here.
You may have heard the saying “eat the rainbow”. This is all about making sure we get as much colour onto our plate as possible; eating wholesome food, full of fresh vegetables that are packed with fibre and essential vitamins and minerals such as zinc and fresh fruits and nuts - packed full of polyphenols that fight free radical damage, allowing the skin heal - and optimising the ageing process. We should consume more of these foods, and consume less foods that are highly processed.
This also means cutting down on alcohol and caffeine consumption. Eating well also helps to balance the good bacteria in the gut, resulting in less breakouts, less constipation, reduced illness - and studies have shown it can also help with reducing anxiety and depression. 70% of our serotonin is produced in the gut. When the gut health is not balanced, it can lead to high levels of anxiety, which can also in turn affect our skin. Taking a good pro biotic in conjunction with a balanced diet can help restore the natural gut flora.
It’s always best to speak with a good naturopath, nutritionist or your doctor to get the best advice if you have any underlying health questions or concerns, or simply want to know where to start. So the message I give to my lovely patients is that a healthy gut equals a healthy mind and beautiful looking skin.
Get more sleep
When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Sometimes it hard to switch our busy brains off at the end of a long day. For others, it’s as easy as laying their head on the pillow and they’re off to dreamland. Why is it important that we get enough sleep? Sleep is vital for the overall health of our brain and body. It helps to boost our immune so we can reduce the chances of illness, balance our moods - and our body is able to do its job in removing the day’s waste, through the digestive and lymphatic system. Sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing to talk about bowel movements, and what is considered healthy, but I am never afraid to politely talk about poop habits with my patients, especially when it comes to skin conditions. Acne, and flare ups of psoriasis and eczema are also more common when we don’t get enough rest. If we are unable to flush out the days toxins through lack of sleep, those toxins just add onto the next day, resulting in bad skin. Think of sleep as helping us detoxify the garbage from our body. Here is a great article on what a healthy poo should look like.
Less sleep means we can become more anxious, irritable, lethargic - and we are more prone to illness. The skin can generally look more aged as the body is not able to regenerate. Adults need a good 7 hours sleep every night -if you are far off that, even just one hour’s extra quality sleep a night can make a significant difference.
Some of my tips for a good night’s rest are:
1. Put your mobile phone or computer away one hour before sleep. The blue light from our devices can be stimulating, putting the brain into party mode! At home, I turn off the Wi-fi at the box, and keep the bedroom mobile free so I can avoid reaching for the phone - or the screen turning on throughout the night with notifications, which can interrupt your sleep.
2. Keep bedroom dark, and cool. You could even use a diffuser with relaxing essential oils in your space, a few hours before sleep to let the brain know it’s bedtime.
3. If you are a light sleeper, try to avoid stimulating beverages such as alcohol, or caffeinated drinks too close to bed time, as well going to bed straight after eating a heavy meal. Allow 3 hours for food to digest before bed time.
4. Deep breathing and visualisation techniques before sleep are fantastic ways to calm the mind and body, so that you are able to slow the heart rate down and fall asleep much quicker. The same breathing techniques can be used in the morning as a way to start the day with mindfulness!
Want to learn more about Diane's holistic approach to healthy skin?