7 (Free) Ways to Better Skin
By Nikki Yeh, contributor
A jab of Botox, industry average: $300. An Oxygen facial: $150. A series of peels: $1600. We’re not going to lie, cosmetic skin care treatments with a good doc are not cheap. And with the holidays around the corner, you may be feeling a little cash-strapped. Fortunately there are some science-proven ways to ever so slightly rejuvenate your skin without opening up your wallet. Famous fitness expert Denise Austin (she’s 56!) says, “Aging is 30 percent hereditary and 70 percent lifestyle. Isn’t it wonderful that we have some control over our aging process?” With that in mind, reap the benefits of these free skin-savers. (Hint: they all help reduce stress!)
1. Exercise to get a glow. “Sweating through heat will increase blood flow to the skin, dilating blood vessels, which gives skin a glowing appearance,” confirms our consulting dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Kellett. The key is to work up a sweat with a half hour of aerobic activity three times a week. Forgo the gym fees and borrow a Zumba workout DVD from the library instead.
2. Do downward dog. In a 2010 study by Ohio State University, women who practiced regular yoga had reduced inflammation levels, which are usually increased by aging and anxiety. This means yoga can help you feel less stressed, thereby reducing breakouts and even the appearance of wrinkles. Visit a yoga studio or a rec center to see if they offer free trial sessions.
3. Turn in earlier. Cut down your evening Netflix to get seven or eight hours of sleep every night because a lack of sleep causes your skin to age quicker. According to a new study at the UH Case Medical Center (commissioned by Estée Lauder), women who slept poorly exhibited more signs of aging, such as lower skin elasticity. Conversely, women who enjoyed a full night’s rest in the study tended to recover faster from sun-related skin issues.
4. Sleep elevated to reduce puffy eyes. Take your extra pillow out of the closet and haul it with you to bed. “When you sleep supine or lying down, the fluid tends to accumulate around the eyes, so if you sleep on a second pillow with your head propped up, your eyes will look a little less puffy in the morning,” explains Dr. Kellett in this video.
5. Track your grub. Got a mystery rash? Track your diet in a DIY food journal, which will help you and your dermatologist pinpoint food-related causes to skin issues. FYI: Carbs that are high on the glycemic index, like potatoes and rice, can surge blood sugar levels. As a result, they can trigger unwanted free radicals, which contribute to aging skin.
6. Be a groupie. Don’t shy away from parties if you’ve got a third-eye zit. Why? It turns out the “cheerleader effect” à la How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson may have merit. In a 2013 study published in Psychological Science, people are considered more attractive when they’re surrounded with other people, compared to standing alone. Scientists from the University of California believe that people tend to “average out” faces within a group, which rules out unattractive features. Additionally, socializing may add more years to your life: A zoo study from the University of Edinburgh found that extroverted gorillas had stronger hearts and immune systems, and outlived the more introverted monkeys by 3 to 4 years. So grab your phone, snap your group selfies and smile!
7. Make the connection. According to the British Journal of Dermatology, 30 percent of dermatology patients are distressed with psychological issues. But when these emotional issues are addressed, they can do wonders on boosting skin health. If your acne or eczema flare up whenever you feel anxious, determine your stressors and find ways to alleviate them. (Review number 2!)