Skin-care products are just one aspect of healthy skin. Diet and exercise also play important roles in building healthy skin that can handle everyday stresses.
Inflammation is a key condition underlying sensitive skin. While drugs and topical ointments can temporarily treat the inflammation, changing your diet can minimize inflammation from the inside. An anti-inflammatory diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high quality protein from fish, chicken, eggs and nuts, as well as healthy fats from cold-water fish, olive oil, nuts and avocados. A variety of these foods will provide the right balance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, omega-3s and monounsaturated fats to keep your skin in balance by helping the whole body function more smoothly. This inflammation-reducing diet will also supply plentiful amounts of B vitamins, which help reduce inflammation and increase skin turnover [source: Goldman; WebMD].
A pro-inflammatory diet -- a diet that promotes inflammation throughout your body and therefore in your skin -- contains a lot of processed foods. This diet will throw your sensitive skin into a temper tantrum, like a toddler who ate too much candy and will later crash and burn. Processed foods tend to have a lot more sugar, fat and salt in them than fresh foods. They're also highly refined, meaning that they've been significantly transformed from the original food. Strangely, these foods tend to be white. They also tend to be soft and have few nutrients and very little fiber. White rice, white pasta, white bread, pastries and sweets, and white sugar are examples. If you're going to eat white foods, stick with white fruits and vegetables like cauliflower, parsnips, apples, jicama, potatoes (with their skins), onions and garlic.
Exercise is important to pump up blood flow to the skin, relieve stress and detoxify the body. Since the blood carries nutrients throughout your body, the better your blood flow, the more nutrients your skin gets. Better blood flow also brings more nourishing oxygen to the skin and increases collagen production, which helps plump up the skin. Using exercise to shake off the unproductive meeting you had at work or to think through the argument you had with your significant other will help control the damaging hormones that are released when you're under stress. Getting a good sweat going also helps your skin get rid of toxins that would otherwise accumulate and cause flare-ups. Just remember to stay hydrated to replace the water that you lose in your sweat [source: Bouchez].
For more information about the why and how of keeping sensitive skin calm, check out the links below.
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Feeling Stressed? How Your Skin, Hair and Nails Can Show It." ScienceDaily. Nov. 12, 2007. (Jan. 28, 2011)http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071109194053.htm
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Stress and Skin." November 2008. (Jan. 25, 2011)http://www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_stressandskin.html
- Balfour, Frederik. "Skin Care Products Strike it Big in China -- for Men." Bloomberg Businessweek. Dec. 29, 2010. (Jan. 23, 2011)http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_02/b4210022517035.htm
- Bouchez, Colette. "Exercise Your Body -- and Your Skin." May 6, 2005. (Jan. 24, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/guide/exercise-your-body-your-skin
- Gillette. "How to Shave." (Jan. 23, 2011)http://www.gillette.com/en/us/mens-style/how-to-shave.aspx
- Goins, Leisa. "You Asked! Expert A's to Your Skin Care Q's: Men's Shaving Products." WebMD. July 8, 2010. (Jan. 26, 2011)http://men.webmd.com/features/mens-shaving-products
- Goldman, Erik L. "Skin Care for Men: Simplify for Success." Skin & Allergy News. February 2005 (Jan. 23, 2011)http://skin.gcnpublishing.com/fileadmin/content_pdf/archive_pdf/vol36iss2/70552_main.pdf
- Scirrotto, Julia. "Soothing Solutions for Sensitive Skin." (Jan. 26, 2011)http://www.marieclaire.com/hair-beauty/trends/articles/sensitive-skin-dermatology
- University of Gothenburg. "Fragrance Exposure: New Discovery on the Causes of Contact Allergy."ScienceDaily. Oct. 11, 2010 (Jan. 23, 2011) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101010183658.htm
- WebMD. "20 Common Questions About Sensitive Skin." Sept. 13, 2010 (Jan. 23, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/sensitive-skin-20-questions?
- Weil Lifestyle. "Six Tips for Healthy Hair and Skin." (Jan. 24, 2011)http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02032/healthy-hair-and-skin.html
- Wright, Suzanne. "Beyond First Blush: An Up-Close Look at Natural Skin Care Products." WebMD. March 17, 2009 (Jan. 23, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/beyond-first-blush-an-upclose-look-at-natural-skin-care-products