As an actor, your body is your instrument and your face is your calling card, right? So you probably should treat them with respect, don’t you think? To be fair, I think everyone should honor their health and their bodies, but actors have more skin in the game in front of the camera. So, if you needed more reasons to be healthy other than, well, the benefits of being healthy – allow me to pique your interest for vanity’s sake and clue you in to some habits that can greatly affect the health and appearance of your skin.
First up, bad habits to drop like, er… bad habits… (sorry.)
We all know the severe health risks associated with smoking and why you should quit or avoid it, but along with heart disease and lung cancer, you can add looking old long before your time to the list.
Nicotine increases carbon monoxide levels in the blood, and constricts blood vessels. This restricts oxygen flow to all your organs, including your skin. Smoking depletes the skin of vitamins A and C, reduces collagen production and degrades already present collagen. It affects the deeper tissues of your skin, and leaves the surface layers dry and brittle. All this adds up to making your skin age much faster than you’d ever want it to – up to five times faster than average according to some studies!
Studies have shown that a drink a day may have beneficial effects on overall health, but any more than that can cause serious problems. For skin, alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, and consistent excessive drinking wears blood vessels out, keeping them dilated. This can bring a permanent flush to the face, and exacerbate rosacea. Alcohol also causes dehydration, causing the skin to be dry from the inside out, which leads to premature wrinkling. It also damages the liver, an organ vital for flushing waste. When wastes cannot be properly removed from the body, unhealthy looking skin can be a result, along with other serious health problems.
Indulging in your sweet tooth now and then won’t do much harm, but give in too often and you may see the effects when you look in the mirror. A rapid increase in blood sugar can cause a process known as glycation, in which glucose randomly reacts with proteins, DNA and other molecules. This can tear down the collagen in your skin and also make it more susceptible to sun damage. It can cause the skin to lose elasticity and become brittle as well as exacerbate acne.
Too much sodium causes fluid retention and is often the culprit for chronic puffy eyes. Over time the consistent fluid retention can cause skin to lose its elasticity. The average American diet already contains far too much sodium due to processed food, take out and fast food. To keep looking youthful, try finding healthier alternatives, and avoid adding any salt to your meals.
So, now that we’ve covered some of what not to do, let’s go over the healthy habits to add to your lifestyle that will bring that glow to your face.
You are what you eat as they say, and skin being the largest organ of the body, it makes sense that nutrition will effect how your skin looks. You should focus on a balanced, healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy oils and fats, lean protein and whole grains. And as mentioned above, avoid processed foods and too much sodium and sugar.
As part of your balanced diet, there are some key compounds you’ll want to make sure you are incorporating for good skin. Vitamin A is important for skin health, as it is essential for the growth and development of cells. You can get vitamin A from dark orange or green fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apricots, spinach and kale. Dairy products are also a good source, though I recommend avoiding too much dairy if you have acne prone skin.
Foods high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, artichokes and dark chocolate (woo!), will help fight free radicals, which can damage cell DNA. And getting plenty of essential fatty acids from sources like salmon, walnuts and flaxseed helps maintain strong cell structure. This keeps skin looking firm and supple.
Working out helps keep your skin in shape too. Skin that covers tone muscle will look smoother and younger. Focus on overall body toning and stretching exercises, such as yoga. It decreases stress, bringing hormones into better balance. This can help control blemishes and keep your complexion even.
You’ll also want to do aerobic exercises a few times a week, where your heart rate is elevated for at least 30 minutes. This improves circulation, which provides oxygen and nutrients to your cells, giving your skin a healthier color and tone. Just remember to drink water before and after your workout. On top of the benefits of keeping generally well hydrated, water further increases circulation, and brings nutrients to the skin. Just don’t do a tough workout with your makeup on ladies!
I’ve discussed sunscreens in depth on Ms. In The Biz before, but it’s always worth another mention. Sun exposure is the top culprit for prematurely aged skin. It breaks down collagen, creates free radicals that damage skin, leads to pigment change and causes uneven thickening and thinning of the skin, contributing to wrinkles.
So, this one is easy. Don’t go out without your SPF.. This goes for winter too. UVA rays, which penetrate deeper layers of the skin, stay the same year round, rain or shine.
So to summarize, when you feel great, you look great and when you look great, you feel great. See how that works? Taking action on this info will put you well on your way to not only looking fabulous, but living a healthier life as well – so it’s a win win!
Now is as a good of a time as any to start being a healthier you – so tell me, do you have plans to change any health habits?
All images courtesty of freedigitalphots.net