We all know about organs such as the heart, brain and stomach, but not all organs live inside the body. In fact, there is one that we wear on the outside – the skin is our largest organ and is not only there to look good, but also works hard as a waterproof, insulative shield, our first line of defence and helps to regulate our body temperature1.

Because it has so many jobs to do and is the principle barrier to our environment, our skin can also be seen as a gallery that tells stories about the genes we carry within us, our experiences, lifestyle choices and our environment. We carry the effect of our lives on our faces, such as the pimples we may have had as teenagers2, the smoking we enjoyed over the years3, a diet that is high in sugar4 and many hours spent enjoying the sunshine5. It is worth noting that if the condition of your skin is causing distress or you have any worries or concerns, it is best to seek advice from a doctor or specialist. 

There are several factors at play in our quest for perfect skin, and whilst there are some we can’t change, there are several that can, but none are quick fixes. So, even though it may be impossible to achieve perfection 24/7, let’s discover the steps we can take to ensure we are putting our best face forward each day.


1. Keep skin hydrated

Keeping skin hydrated is important for all of us, not just those of us with dry skin. Since water makes up a large part of the human body, it is no wonder that research shows that our faces will start to show us if it doesn’t have enough.

The water content in our skin contributes towards plumpness, elasticity, and resiliency, so we want to do all we can to ensure water stays put. Common culprits for causing dryness are exposing skin to dry air, exposing skin to hot water for too long, and scrubbing with soap6.

To manage these effects, using a moisturiser7, washing our face with lukewarm (vs hot) water and using a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol8 will all help to keep dryness at bay for healthy looking skin, but there is something else we should be doing.

Drinking enough water can improve skin thickness, help to offset the water we might lose through the skin and improve hydration6. So take steps to make sure those water levels are consistently topped up throughout the day.


2. Quit smoking and alcohol

Forehead lines, under-eye puffiness, deeper smile lines, losing plumpness in the cheeks and thinner lips are all ways our face can show the signs of smoking and drinking alcohol9. And of course, the longer and more severe the habit, the more visual signs are reflected in our faces.

This is because both smoking and alcohol cause changes in our skin, but in different ways. Smoking causes free-radicals that stop our skin’s repair mechanisms, reduce the amount of collagen it can produce and narrow blood vessels, which therefore reduces healthy blood-flow to the skin. Alcohol affects the skin’s antioxidant defence system and causes volume loss and blood vessels to widen which can lead to small visible vessels on the face9.

So if we can eliminate smoking and alcohol from our lifestyle, we can effectively safeguard our skin against these unwanted visual changes.

3. Protect skin from the sun

It has been well documented that UV-rays from the sun can cause damage to the skin. In fact, one study in Caucasian women aged 30-78 years old found that exposure to UV appeared to be responsible for 80% of visible facial ageing signs. The face in constantly exposed to sunlight, and as time passes it will gradually accumulate damage that causes skin to lose pigmentation and elasticity, cause age spots (hyper pigmentation), and skin roughness and yellowing10.

Therefore, many healthcare professionals recommend sunscreen as one of the best lines of defence against the sun’s harmful rays. One that shields us against UVA and UVB will give protection against a whole range of UV radiation known to compromise our skin11.


4. A healthy diet will protect skin from the inside

Facial creams and moisturisers play an important role in skincare from the surface of our skin, but we mustn’t neglect the care we can give from within. If we want to touch our skin on a cellular level, we need to be looking at what we eat.

Eating a balanced nutritious diet, rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals is key to having a foundation of healthy skin since these are the substances responsible for our body’s growth and maintenance12,13. Research has shown that an imbalance in nutrition and poor eating habits are important causes of skin aging13.

If we stick to some simple principles for healthy eating, we should get all we need from our diet. No single food or food group can give us all the nutrients that our skin and bodies need, so we should be aiming for as much variety as possible. Consuming at least 5 different types of fruits and vegetables a day and getting enough healthy fats such as omega-3 is extremely important for our skin health12.  

We should be aiming to reduce or eliminate diets that are high in fat and/or sugar, both of which have been linked to negative skin effects13.

Vitamin A, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin C, iodine, zinc and copper are all essential nutrients for optimal skin health and function14. A multivitamin specially designed to support healthy skin should complement a healthy diet, and could help to top up those all-important nutrients.