# 1 EAT YOUR WAY THERE
In the words of the great poet Lauryn Hill, “how you gonna win if you ain’t right within, how you gonna win if you ain’t right within uh? Come again!” Caring for your skin from the outside only; is the equivalent of placing your favorite plant in direct sunlight to soak up much-needed rays, while failing to water it. Like everything else, your skin needs balance too.
View your skin as the body’s first line of defense against external elements like toxins which could lead to a damaged, dull and dehydrated appearance. Consuming the right amount of nutrients and sufficient hydration should be the key strategy to fortify your defense system. Eat your way to a healthy glow: be intentional in consuming foods containing selenium, zinc, protein, vitamin A, C &E, and healthy fats. Good quality supplements are great and all, however, keep in mind the operative word there is “supplement". Supplements are not meant to replace needed nutrients. They serve the purpose of supplementing what the body did not absorb from the meals we consume.
# 2 DON'T BUY THE HYPE
Recently I read an article that stated on average women use 16 skincare and/or cosmetic products per day. Completely in disbelief, all I kept thinking out loud was; 16 products on ONE skin? sheesh! Albeit the human skin is approximately 22 square feet in diameter, but SIXTEEN! No wonder the skincare industry rakes in billions of dollars annually. According to a report by Grand View Research, Inc, the industry's projected value could scale to $183.03 billion by 2025. I get it. I too have in the past been sucked in by those effective digital and print ads, tugging at insecurities we all have. I mean cue up the world's smallest violin because these conglomerates didn't get inducted into the billionaires club by feeding us the storyline that we're beautiful or that our skin is perfect just the way it is, sans their product(s). The reality is, we do not buy a product, we're buying the hype. In many cases, at the detriment of our skin and overall health.
My philosophy about all things health-related is, "pay the cost now or pay the cost later." It's a motto with many variables, so I'll leave a full explanation for a later blog. For the purpose of this "skincare" topic, it simply means to spend the time to research the ingredients of products you use. Do not get sidetracked by catchy phrases like "all-natural" on the labels. A quick Google search will net you a plethora of data. Some may scare you straight to making your own products, (this is exactly how Zen & Bloom started) when comparisons of what else it's used for pop up in the search results. It's been a few years since I discovered formaldehyde was an ingredient in a favorite skincare product I frequently used. To this day it still makes me cringe when I think about it. Another discovery you may make is that you've been "had" by the marketing hype.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that wrinkle corrector AND collagen booster AND deeply moisturizing face cream AND serum AND intensely moisturizing eye cream in your checkout cart might very well be the same product, formulated to create different consistencies but packaged and marketed as individual products. The moral of this tale is; keep your skincare products simple: chemical-free and organic plant-based. Ditch the products that strip the skin of what the body naturally produces. That naturally oily skin you so dislike could very well be the reason why wrinkles are kept at bay and not so much so those expensive jars of moisturizer.
# 3 SUN PLEASE
Repeat after me, the sun is only my enemy if I do not respect its powers and act accordingly. The resounding public health message regarding sun exposure 9 out of 10 times focuses on its hazardous effects. Yes, UVA radiation penetrates the skin deeply where it can contribute to severe skin damage and can potentially be cancerous due to the generation of DNA damaging molecules such as hydroxyl and oxygen. However, excessive exposure accounts for only 0.1% of the total global burden of disease in disability-adjusted life years, according to a World Health Organization report. What we do not hear frequently is that many studies show that Vitamin D helps to regulate mood and support healthy blood levels. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression and anxiety. How we feel, in many cases, consciously and/or subconsciously may manifest through our outward appearance. Unlike other essential vitamins we acquire through food, Vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin through a photosynthetic reaction triggered by UVB exposure. An average of 30 minutes in the sun can yield approximately 50,000 IU of vitamin D in Caucasians, 20,000-30,000 IU in tanned individuals and, 8,000-10,000 IU in dark-skinned people, within 24hours of exposure.
15-30 minutes of midday (it's the best time of day to get sunlight) direct sunlight several times per week is all you may need to maintain a healthy Vitamin D level, in turn promoting a better mood and improving blood flow to your organs. After all, the skin is the largest organ of the human body.
So lather on the right level of SPF sunscreen and head on outside to soak up some of nature's glow, responsibly.
written by: Yekesha Frederick