Let’s be honest: we’re all guilty of setting hopeful New Year’s resolutions that quickly dissipate within a few weeks, right? Yet, setting goals shouldn’t be a matter of reaching for the stars and hoping for the best; it should be about setting achievable and realistic objectives that integrate seamlessly into your daily rituals.
When it comes to healthy skin, there are few things more important than knowledge and consistency. Whether you want to improve your skin’s texture, achieve younger and more radiant-looking skin, or learn smarter skin care tips to improve your health, the road to optimal skin health starts with a holistic approach that prioritises your inner wellness.
If you’re ready to make 2023 the year of radiant skin and good health, here are Dr Tanya’s five healthy habits to start the new year with a little extra glow.
But first, let’s look at how to create long-lasting rituals
1. Set SMART goals
How many times have you set ambitious New Year’s resolutions that look great on paper but leave you feeling deflated and unmotivated? If you fall into this category, you’re likely setting goals that are too big and overwhelming to tackle. While the intention is there, it might be time to scale back and try something a little different this year to achieve sustainable healthy habits: SMART goals.
SMART stands for:
Specific — Narrow your goal down so you can be as detailed and intentional as possible. Ask yourself: what do you want to achieve? Why is achieving healthy habits and radiant skin important to you? Who is involved in helping you get here? What obstacles may present along the way?
Measurable — Ensure your goal can be quantifiable. For example, simply setting a goal to have “better skin” is hard to define and measure, and thus, hard to know when you’ve achieved it. Yet, setting a goal to “consume five servings of skin nourishing foods daily is specific and measurable. What will it look like when you’ve achieved this goal? How will you know if you’re veering off course?
Attainable — The quickest way to feel demotivated is to choose goals that are out of reach. Start small and ensure your plan is realistic. Ask yourself: how will you achieve your goal? And is it realistic for your abilities?
Relevant — Where healthy skin is concerned, you’ll almost always find that your goals are relevant. But, if you aren’t sure about a specific goal you’re setting, ask yourself: is it the right time? Does it make sense to prioritise this goal right now? Does this connect to your overarching health goals?
Time-bound — One of the most overlooked aspects of setting goals is creating a strict deadline. Set an end date and micro milestones to help you stay aligned.
2. Invest in the power of positive goal setting
When we’re setting goals, we often focus on what we want to remove or rid ourselves of. Skin rituals should be built around actions that embrace the power of positivity.
For example, instead of saying, “I want to eat less sugar to improve my skin,” change it to “I want to eat more nourishing, healthy foods to improve my skin.” The idea is still the same, yet you’re reframing your brain to focus on adding rather than removing, which can psychologically change how you approach a goal.
Why exactly? Unfortunately, it’s much easier to incorporate a new behaviour than to remove an old one. This method allows you to overwrite bad habits with positive new ones.
3. Celebrate your wins
This is, without a doubt, one of the most essential tips for creating sustainable goals that stick: celebrate the large and small milestones along the way.
It’s so easy to become fixated on a goal to the point where we punish ourselves along the journey if we aren’t tracking fast enough. Yet, creating a ritual is all about incorporating an action as part of your lifestyle and enjoying the process as much as the outcome.
Positive reinforcement is a great way to make a habit a non-negotiable practice! What exactly does this look like in practice? Set micro goals along the way and reward yourself with something you love when you reach it. This could be as simple as a nice warm bath and your favourite book or something motivating like a new outfit you’ve had your eye on.
5 Healthy Habits to Start the New Year with Glowing Skin
1. Focus on reducing the stress in your life
From relationships and work to money and emotional struggles, stress is a natural and unavoidable part of our daily lives. While healthy and harmless in small bouts, the consequences of chronic stress can wreak havoc on your general wellbeing and, surprisingly, your skin health, too.
Wondering how exactly stress impacts your skin? Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between the two:
When you feel stressed, your sympathetic nervous system releases cortisol and adrenaline stress hormones. Unfortunately, when cortisol is released into your body, it often increases sebum oil production in your skin glands. Excess oil can clog your pores and cause unwanted acne breakouts.
Psychological stress can interfere with the epidermal barrier, the skin’s top layer responsible for locking in moisture and protecting us from harmful microbes. Unfortunately, when impacted, it can result in skin irritations or chronic conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Psychological stress can impact your immune system, activating internal inflammation. While inflammation is generally a positive response as it’s required to protect and heal our bodies when under severe stress, it can result in the immune system overreacting and causing skin irritations and sensitivities characterised by rashes, hives, and redness.
Stress can fast forward the signs of ageing by causing wrinkles. Stress directly alters the proteins in your skin and reduces its elasticity, which may contribute to the onset of wrinkles. Frequent frowning caused by stress can also cause wrinkles in specific areas.
Simple tips to reduce stress:
Exercise regularly to release those feel-good hormones — a 6-week study found that those who participated in aerobic exercise two days per week significantly reduced overall perceived stress.
Prioritise your nutrition — studies have found a link between diets high in processed foods and sugar and higher perceived stress levels. Trade in fast food for nutrient-dense foods like magnesium and B vitamins, which are essential for regulating stress and mood
Make sleep a non-negotiable — Adequate sleep decreases cortisol levels, regulates your immune system, and lessens the feeling of anxiety. Ensure your bedroom is set up for quality sleep, and prioritise getting eight hours every night.
Practice self-care — Prioritising downtime and finding joy in the things you love is an important ritual to help lower stress levels. This might include taking a bath, reading a book, exercising, getting a massage, finding a relaxing hobby, meditation, or journaling.
Find a trustworthy support network — Confiding in people you trust can be a helpful way to help process built-up stress and emotion. Whether through a friend or a trained professional, gaining support from those around you may help to minimise stress.
2. Get serious about your sunscreen ritual
While we’re all for the benefits of getting your daily dose of sunshine to boost vitamin D production and those feel-good hormones, we’re also firm believers that you can have too much of a good thing…and sadly, this applies to sun exposure.
Unfortunately, excessive sun exposure is the leading cause of premature ageing and dull-looking skin. Also known as photoaging or photodamage, sun damage occurs when UV light comes into contact with unprotected skin, subsequently causing DNA changes at a cellular level. The end result? Wrinkles, pigmentation, age spots, decreased skin elasticity, rough and uneven skin texture, broken capillaries, and redness.
Let’s take a closer look at the different kinds of UV light and how they interact with your skin:
UVA light — This form impacts and damages your skin to the deepest layer. Affecting all layers of the skin, UVA light damages collagen and elastin fibres (the two main components contributing to tight, youthful-looking skin), epidermal cells, and capillaries.
UVB light — This form impacts the outer layer of your skin, damaging DNA more severely than UVA in the epidermis. UVB light can cause photodamage and precancerous cells.
UVC light — The ozone layer absorbs this type, thus doesn’t pose a serious health risk.
Simple tips to reduce sun damage:
Apply an adequate amount of broad-spectrum SPF 30+ or 50+ sunscreen daily.
Reapply sunscreen every two hours or less if exercising or swimming.
Ensure you’re extra cautious between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun’s rays are most intense.
Wear long sleeved clothing, a hat, and polarised sunglasses for sun protection
Get regular skin checks with a skin specialist annually.
3. Nourish your body from the inside out
If we are what we eat, it should come as no surprise that nutrition plays a significant role in the health and appearance of our skin. From acne breakouts to wrinkles and premature ageing, what you put in your body will often present externally, meaning what’s good for your body is most often good for your skin.
While there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to suggest that one particular food group or type of food contributes to poor skin health and acne, several studies suggest nutritious diets high in minerals and vitamins and low in sugar and processed foods certainly support healthy skin. Consider the following findings:
A study in the Archives of Dermatology analysed diets from two societies with no reported occurrences of acne. The study found these diets were high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish. Likewise, they were also low in fat and extremely low in dairy, alcohol, coffee, oil, sugar, and refined grains.
Several studies have found that key nutrients may directly impact skin wrinkling, thinning, and dryness. Fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants have been associated with fewer wrinkles and age-related dry skin. Conversely, foods high in saturated fat and sugar are associated with higher chances of forming wrinkles.
Youthful, radiant skin begins within. No amount of quality skincare will outperform a bad diet, which means it’s essential to look at what you’re nourishing your body with if you want to ensure radiant, glowing skin all year round. Here are just a few of the key nutrients that are known to impact skin health positively:
Simple tips to improve your skin health from within:
Add more vitamins A, C, D, and E and omega-3 and -6 fatty acid-rich foods to your diet. Plus, look at what immune-boosting ingredients are beneficial to add to the mix!
Reduce refined carbohydrates (i.e., bread, crackers, cereal, white rice, noodles, sodas, sweet beverages, cane sugar, maple syrup, etc.)
Reduce alcohol consumption to avoid unnecessarily dehydrating your skin or impeding vitamin absorption
Reduce sugar intake, which is suggested to cause wrinkles
Minimise foods such as fatty meats, bacon, hotdogs, pepperoni, high GI foods, artificial sweeteners, dairy milk, and fast food
Consume a varied and balanced diet consisting of antioxidant-loaded vegetables and fruit, and healthy fats
Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables daily
4. Prioritise skin hydration
You might assume we’re talking about water consumption here, right? While we strongly believe adding a few more glasses of H2O to your 2023 healthy habits resolutions is a worthwhile cause everyone should prioritise, keeping your skin hydrated goes beyond this
Why exactly? The outermost layer of your skin — the stratum corneum — acts as a built-in barrier that helps to keep the moisture locked inside your cells. However, skin can lose hydration if the cells protected by this barrier lose excess water, resulting in flaky, dull-looking and dry skin. Several factors can deplete your skin’s hydration, ranging from cleansers, air quality, hot water, and severe dehydration. Addressing these factors is the key to optimal skin hydration.
Simple tips to improve skin hydration:
Reduce alcohol consumption — alcohol dehydrates your body, often resulting in dull, dry skin.
Minimise sugar intake — did you know that sugar prematurely ages you? Sugar stiffens collagen through a process known as glycation. Unfortunately, this process is known to age the skin as it directly impacts the very thing that keeps us looking young (collagen).
Ensure adequate water intake — While research hasn’t found a clear link between water intake and skin hydration in healthy people, we know hydration is the key to optimal all-around functionality. Likewise, maintaining adequate water intake will ensure you aren’t dehydrated, which has known skin implications (i.e., tight, itchy, and dry skin).
Buy a good quality water bottle — If you have a large quality water bottle you can easily transport, the chances of consuming more water are high. Invest in your health, and it will do the same for you!
Avoid skincare products that contain alcohol — The alcohol content will dry out your skin rather than add moisture!
Be mindful of your environment — Avoid overexposing your skin to dry air or air conditioning. Be sure to break up your day with fresh air, or try using a humidifier!
Don’t turn up the heat in the shower — When washing your face or showering, be
5. Get to know your skin a little better
When you’re new to skincare, it’s easy to fall into the trap of simply using products a friend recommends or what you’ve seen others experience great results with. While this is a fantastic start to adopting a skin ritual, there is one main issue with this approach: it isn’t tailored to your unique skin.
Knowledge is power, and this rings especially true when understanding your skin type and what it needs to thrive. What works for one person may not work for you because all skin is unique and requires a bespoke approach.
Choosing products that don’t align with your skin’s unique requirements will deliver minimal results and could do more harm than good, worsening your skin problems. As such, it’s crucial to understand your skin type before you begin your journey to optimal skin health. Consider the following skin type guide when kickstarting your educational journey:
Common skin characteristics
Suitable skincare products
Skin texture may feel rough
Complexion appears blotchy
Potential flaking and itchiness
Skin that is prone to cracking
Visible fine lines
Potential redness and skin irritation
Oil cleansers, lotions, or milk cleansers
Visibly oily around the t-zone
Dry skin around the eyes, mouth, and cheeks
Visibly enlarged pores around the chin, nose, and forehead
Skin texture may change with the seasons
Non-stripping foam or gel cleansers
Visible and enlarged pores
Susceptible to acne, particularly in the t-zone area
Skin has a shiny appearance
Skin appears plump due to excess oil
Foam or gel cleansers
Water-based, light moisturisers
Hardly visible pores
Even skin tone
Not too oily or too dry
Fares well when in contact with elements (i.e., sun, wind, etc.) and irritants
All types of cleansers and moisturisers
Reactive and easily irritated
Prone to breakouts
Alcohol-free, fragrance-free cleansers
Calming moisturisers free from aggressive ingredients
Simple tips to better understand what your skin needs:
Book a skin consultation with our Dr Tanya skincare specialists for a bespoke treatment plan tailored to your skin type and concerns.
Do your own independent research into what treatment types and products will help your skin thrive (i.e., how often should your skin type exfoliate? should you be adding glycolic acid to your ritual? and what type of ingredients will benefit your skin concerns?). Remember, knowledge is power!
Skin health requires so much more than simply investing in good quality products. While extremely important, your skin needs a holistic approach that prioritises a healthy diet, reduced stress levels, adequate skin hydration, understanding of what products will help your skin thrive, and a strict approach to sun protection.
Achieving optimal skin health requires patience and consistency. Rather than biting off more than you can chew, prioritise your skin health by setting smaller, attainable goals that will form part of your daily skin ritual. We recommend creating your own goals based on the skin care tips above and slowly incorporating more as you develop a sustainable routine.
To learn more about your skin type and how you can achieve all-year radiance, book a consultation at Dr Tanya with our expert team of skin specialists today.