What the heck did Benjamin Franklin know about skin care? Perhaps more than we might think. Benjamin Franklin once said: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." When it comes to skin care, no truer words have been spoken.
There is no debating that a product like Proactiv is one of the best-selling acne treatment products in the United States, and maybe even the world. And while it would not be the recommended course of acne treatment by this author, it is hard to argue that it has proven to be successful for many of its users.
However, while Proactiv and other products that use benzoyl peroxide as their main active ingredient are primarily designed to treat breakouts after they occur, their main focus is not on the actual causes of the breakouts. The Proactiv website lists some of those causes as genetics, hormones, stress, medications, diet, cosmetics, and a hot, humid climate.
And while perhaps there is little that you can do about genetics, medications, and the climate of where you live - there are some simple changes you can make in your life to help address the causes of breakouts and acne before you turn to more expensive, mass marketed skin care treatments.
- Improve Your Diet
A diet high in sugars and processed foods can cause inflammation and ultimately skin irritation. Both have a high glycemic index, which can raise insulin levels and put your hormones out of balance. Cutting back on foods that cause inflammation, and adding foods to your diet that combat inflammation, will go a long way towards maintaining the health of your skin and your overall wellness.
In her 2011 book "Feed Your Face," Hollywood dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu lists inflammation as the biggest enemy to the skin and insists that if people take some basic steps to improve their diets they can greatly reduce the amounts of inflammation in their bodies.
According to Dr. Wu: "Just as your digestive system takes in food, processes nutrients, and gets rid of waste, your skin takes in nutrients from the blood, produces by- products (such as oil and dead skin cells), and sends what it doesn't need back into the bloodstream. For this reason we say it has its own metabolism, and how it functions is directly related to the fuel it receives (i.e., the food you eat)."
Wu adds: "Your skin is also what we call a microbiome; it's teeming with microorganisms, most of which are invisible to the naked eye. Even when you think you're clean (like right after a long, hot shower), you still have bacteria, fungus, yeast, and parasites living on and in your skin. They're supposed to be there, of course, and normally they all live in harmony, but when that delicate balance gets disturbed (by hormone fluctuations or changes in your diet, for example), one component overgrows, and your skin reacts. Rosacea, acne, and many rashes are caused, at least in part, by bacterial overgrowth or imbalance."
Foods that cause inflammation and can be bad for your skin include: trans fats, sugars, white bread, alcohol, and gluten.
Foods that can help combat inflammation and help prevent skin issues include: olive oil, citrus fruits, berries, dark leafy greens, carrots, pineapple, ginger, fatty fish, tart cherries and whole grains.
- Get More Sleep
Recent research is shedding light on the connection between cortisol production, growth hormone, melatonin, stress and lack of sleep—and the effect all of this has on our skin.
Without quality sleep, growth hormone and melatonin are not produced in sufficient quantities, while cortisol is overproduced. The result is overall poor skin condition, including dryness, dullness, fine lines, and wrinkles.
- Lower Those Stress Levels
In order to keep our skin clear, youthful and glowing, controlling and managing stress is just as or even more important than what we eat.
A perfect diet and a decent amount of sleep will go a long ways towards helping your skin, but stress is a powerful enemy. High levels of stress can have a devastating impact on health and well-being overall, and lead to significant inflammatory effects on the skin. So we must take other steps to avoid the stress in our bodies in addition to diet and sleep:
Increase our Physical Activity: Second to sleep, get some exercise. Not only does physical activity help you “blow off steam,” it also boosts circulation, which helps your complexion.
Find More Ways to Relax: It sounds obvious, but people who lead stressful lives have to make a concerted effort to slow down and relax. Deep breathing, meditating, and other forms of “quiet time” will help.
- Develop a regular skin care regimen with a trusted esthetician
A well-trained and experienced esthetician can develop a skin care regimen tailored to your particular skin type. Using state of the art equipment like advanced microdermabrasion machines such as the Silkpeel, as well as leading edge oxygen facials from companies like Intraceuticals, an experienced esthetician can not only keep your skin clean and clear, but also can use technology to infuse moisture and nutrients deep into the skin.
In addition, an experienced esthetician will carry high quality skin care products not found in your local supermarket or drug store. Inferior products can actually lead to greater skin inflammation, and many manufacturers of such products put forth claims that are simply not backed up by solid science.
By developing a partnership with an experienced and knowledgeable esthetician, you will not only benefit from their training and guidance, but you will feel amazing during the treatments. And that will also help lower those damaging stress levels.
By addressing the root causes of your skin care problems and developing a close relationship with a licensed esthetician... these simple ounces of prevention will have you well on your way to that skin care cure you have been looking for. Being proactive means not needing Proactiv.
And that would make old Ben Franklin proud.