We’re at a constant battle to keep our skin, hair and nails looking healthy.
But before you rub your face in moisturiser, before you endure a drastic chop at the hairdressers and before you buy that new beauty product, take a look at these simple and easy ways to maintain or improve your natural beauty.
From eating more tomatoes for sun protection to sleeping on your back, these ten changes have been scientifically proven to make skin, hair and nail conditions better. And the best thing is, they can be slipped into your current beauty routin.
1. Moisturise within three minutes of turning off the water
Contrary to popular belief, moisturiser does not add moisture to the skin. It traps existing water in the skin by preventing it from evaporating. To capture the most amount of moisture from your bath or shower, moisturise within three minutes of bathing.
If you’re washing your face at the sink, apply the moisturiser immediately after you’ve cleansed and patted dry your face.
The fact is that skin is an organ, which without water does not function properly or at its best. Even if you drink plenty of water, unfortunate truth is that water will reach all the other organs before it reaches the skin. So, it’s important to apply water to our skin and keep it there.
2. Wash your face once a day (preferably at night)
Unless you have a skin condition, such as acne, dermatologists say you only need to wash your face once a day, in the evening. Night-time cleaning removes make-up, pollutants and other first that has collected on the skin.
“Your skin has just slept on a pillow, it is clean (in the morning), it doesn’t necessarily need to be washed,” said expert.
However to feel fresh in the morning, people without a serious skin-care issue can skip the soap and just rinse their faces.
3. Add virgin coconut oil to your moisturising routine
Topical virgin coconut oil decreased water loss in the skin of people with atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory condition where the skin’s natural moisture-locking barrier isn’t working well.
No matter what condition your skin is in, “Research demonstrates how good virgin coconut oil is as a moisturizer,” says expert. “It’s affordable, effective, and especially helpful for the older population, when skin dryness is a pressing problem.”
Coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage because it has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight, it is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.
4. Exercise regularly to cleanse skin from the inside
While we all know the muscle and cardiovascular benefits of exercise, its a lesser known fact that physical activity also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant by increasing blood flow.
“Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin,” says expert. Blood flow helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells. “By increasing blood flow, a bout of exercise helps flush cellular debris out of the system,”.
However, try to avoid excising outdoors between 10am and 4pm when the sun is at its peak. “The main danger if you exercise outdoors is sun exposure,”. Sunburns increase skin cancer risk and rapidly age the skin.
5. Sleep on your back
Burying our faces into our pillows can cause dark circles and puffiness in our eyes.
“If you sleep face-down the blood vessels will become constricted and the circulatory system releases congested fluid from tiny flaps in the walls of these vessels,” says expert.
“The dark circles are actually tiny blood vessels ‘pooling’ under the thin, delicate skin below the eyes. The older you get, the longer they take to disappear; and you may notice more lines forming permanently on the side of the face you normally sleep on,” added expert. “This is because as we age, our skin loses elasticity and collagen, and doesn’t ‘bounce back’ into shape.”
The answer is to train yourself to sleep on your back and keep your head raised well above your body in bed by using two pillows.
6. Sleep for at least seven hours
Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep, but it appears there’s concrete evidence to prove beauty sleep is a real thing.
People who don’t get enough sleep at night are more likely to have poorer skin health and skin that ages up to 50% more quickly.
Poor sleepers had significantly higher ratings of fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening elasticity. Compared with the good sleepers (women who had slept more than seven hours a night for at least a month), poor sleepers (women who had gotten fewer than five hours of sleep each night for at least a month) had significantly higher ratings of fine lines, uneven pigmentation, slackening elasticity and exhibited impaired skin-barrier function, increased moisture loss and slower recovery from sunburn.
7. Feast on tomato-based food in the summer
It’s time to eat more pizza and pasta. A pigment called lycopene in tomatoes has been found to significantly protect skin from UV damage.
“Eating tomatoes will not make you invincible in the sun, but it may be a useful addition to sun protection along with sunscreens, shade and clothing,” said expert.
Having a diet rich in tomatoes is, “likely to contribute to improved skin health, which in turn may have an anti-ageing effect,” added expert.
8. Eat vegetables for better skin tone
Diet with more fruits and vegetables can change and improve skin tone.
“Most people think the best way to improve skin colour is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective,” said expert who found that people who eat more portions of fruit and vegetables per day had a more golden skin colour, thanks to substances called carotenoids which gives natural produce its pigmentation
The expert also credited the changes in skin colour to carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which gives carrots their orange colour and is also found in yams, peaches, pumpkin, apricots and spinach; and lycopene which gives peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, apricots and pink grapefruits a reddish hue.
“Our study suggests that an increase in fruit and veggie consumption of around three portions, sustained over a six-week period, is sufficient to convey perceptible improvements in the apparent healthiness and attractiveness of facial skin,” said expert. “Conversely, those [participants] that worsened their diet became paler.”
9. Cover your hair in the sun
UV radiation from the sun is responsible for damaging the internal protein structure of hair and can eventually weaken it. As with skin, the lighter the colour of your hair, the more affected it will be, as Melanin in hair serves as a protective barrier from sun damage.
If you happen to live in or holiday at a place with strong sunshine and you intend to be outdoors for an extended period, wear a hat or scarf to protect your hair from UV damage and the associated loss in strength. Sunscreen is just as effective on skin as it is on hair too.