The medical definition of skin is fascinating and is described as ‘the outer covering of the body that regulates body temperature, protects against heat, injury and infection; stores fat, water and Vitamin D and aids in eliminating impurities via perspiration’. Comprising two layers of epidermis (outer layer) and dermis, skin is surprisingly our largest organ and can weigh up to 2.7kg! Our skin, like the rest of us, is a feat of biological engineering and contains basal cells, melanocytes (produces melanin giving skin colour), hair follicles, and blood and lymph vessels. It produces sebum, which is an oily substance that keeps skin from drying out and has glands that produces sweat.
As skin is constantly exposed to the elements, pollution, air-conditioning and smoking; and harmed from the inside by having an unhealthy diet, we need to take a step back and find ways of getting that glow back. Living in the tropics means we don’t have to suffer a harsh winter, but that doesn’t mean our skin doesn’t need some loving care. There are certain signs to look out for that should compel you to do something and these include wrinkles, overly oily or dry skin, uneven skin tone and sallowness.
We may not all be in our 20s and naturally blooming, but follow these simple steps and you may be surprised how much better you’ll feel and look.
1. Water is life
The easiest and one of the most important ways to detox is to drink water. Distilled water is a good option and you should be drinking at least 2.5 litres (six to eight glasses) daily at room temperature. Add lemon juice, which is loaded with Vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, and you have the best detox drink to get you through the day.
2. Sweating is sexy
Any form of exercise should be part of your daily routine already. It’s extremely easy to fall into the dismal routine of not doing any physical activity besides walking to your car. Force yourself to start exercising – do something you truly enjoy – and work up to doing it five times a week. Exercise makes you sweat and sweating expels toxins; plus you’ll lose weight, get toned, increase cardiovascular fitness and just feel so good you’ll wonder why you ever stopped! To sweat even more, head to the steam room or indulge in a session of Bikram yoga.
3. You are what you eat
You know it’s bad for you but how many times do we eat something, then feel physically awful and guilty in equal measure? That cliché of ‘you are what you eat’ is so true and if you notice your skin getting oilier or more wrinkled, it’s not just about the weather. The worst culprits are usually what we really like overindulging in like sweets, chips, carbonated drinks, dairy products, fast food and any refined food. Take a week off eating unhealthily and eat clean (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, tofu, tempeh, quinoa), and the difference to your skin will surprise you. The bonus is that you’ll also feel lighter, have more energy and junk food will be a thing of the past.
4. Steaming, baby!
The easiest way to get those pores open to allow impurities out is by steaming. You can do this at home the old fashioned way by filling a bowl with hot water and adding a few drops of good quality essential oil. Soak a small towel in the water, place it on your face (make sure it’s not too hot), lay back and let the steam do its work. Different oils can be used for various skin conditions, e.g. tea tree is good for acne, lavender for its anti-inflammatory qualities and citrus oil for cleansing. Remember to remove all makeup and cleanse your face before steaming.
5. Exfoliate and rejuvenate
Exfoliation is a step in our beauty regime that often gets put aside as we tend to focus on basic cleaning, toning and moisturising, if that! During this week of skin-detox, when you’re also eating clean and exercising, try exfoliating your face two to four times. Use an organic facial scrub or be adventurous (and save money!) and make your own using oatmeal, honey and /or yoghurt as the base ingredients. Don’t forget to exfoliate your body too by dry brushing, which is what top models and beauty mavens swear by. Get the correct brush (firm, natural bristles) and before you have a shower, take a few minutes to exfoliate using circular motions. This boosts circulation, removes dead skin cells, stimulates lymph nodes and apparently improves the appearance of cellulite.