When it comes to skin care, you’ve probably heard it all. You need to sleep more; eat more of this; exercise outdoors so you get more vitamin D. The list goes on and on.
It’s no secret that they are all important, but if you had to choose, which among the three has the most profound effect on skin care?
A good night’s sleep can translate to improved skin health because sleep-deprivation causes the body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels lead to inflammation in the body, including the skin. Lack of quality sleep can also lead to inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. The increase in inflammation caused by sleep deprivation also leads to an accelerated rate of collagen breakdown, responsible for the skin's glow.
Rehydration also occurs during sleep. Since the skin recovers moisture, poor sleeping patterns results in impaired water balance within the body, which result in under-eye circles, puffiness, dryness and visible wrinkles.
The growth hormones released during sleep repair damaged cells. Without REM sleep, this process won’t occur, allowing smaller breakdowns to accumulate over time instead of being easily reversed overnight.
As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” The body is constantly regenerating, using up what we consume to make up new cells. Your skin cells are no exception. However, your diet is only about ¼ of the picture when it comes to acne. Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that is a result of improper skin cell turnover called keratinization. This leads to blocked oil glands and trapped pores. Low-fat, Less hormone-laden whole foods are recommended for better skin quality.
It’s no secret that physical activity has plenty of benefits, but let’s not forget that healthy circulation is key to keeping the skin healthy and vibrant. Increased blood flow from exercises helps nourish the skin cells and keep them fresh. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to the skin, but they also carry away waste products. Exercises doesn’t detoxify the skin per se, but it does aid in flushing debris out of the system.
Exercise, particularly muscle-building, lends the appearance of tighter, firmer looking skin because muscle tone supports the skin. This makes it looks more plump and full. Also, a reduction in body fat will reduce the appearance of cellulite or “the cottage cheese effect.”
One thing also worth mentioning is that the quality of your skin is largely dependent on your genes as well. Take a look at your parents’ skin. In a few years, yours will look like that as well. Subtract the effects of smoking, poor lifestyle choices and sun exposure and you will have an idea of what you could look like if you observed proper skin care.
Out of the three mentioned above, sleep is arguably the most important factor when it comes to skin care. Other things to consider are hormones, environment and stress levels. Monitoring all of these will give you the best possible results.