The 8 commandments for healthy skin

Taking good care of your skin doesn’t have to be complicated. These simple steps are key.

It is our largest organ, covers about 2sqm and protects us against the sun and bacteria.

So how can we look after the skin we are in?

“Our skin is one of our most important living organs, so we should take care of it the same way we take care of important organs like our heart and brain,” says skin scientist Dr Johanna Gillbro, author of The Scandinavian Skincare Bible.

Myths about skincare abound, so what are the secrets to healthy, glowing skin?

Less is more

“A long list of ingredients doesn’t mean a better product – the opposite is true,” says Johanna.

“The more ingredients we expose skin to, the higher the risk of irritation.”

Look for natural ingredients

“Our skin is not used to shea butter or coconut oil, it’s used to natural substances that occur in the skin, like lipids and vitamin A,” says Dr Gillbro.

Look for products containing omega fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides and squalene – all substances produced by our skin.

Look at molecule size

“To have any effect, active ingredients must be able to penetrate the skin,” says Johanna.

Molecules need to be small enough to get through the top layer of skin.

Ingredients like retinol and vitamin C are small enough to penetrate that top layer.

Don’t over-treat healthy skin

Simple is better, says Dr Jo-Ann See, a Sydney-based dermatologist.

“You don’t have to spend a fortune on products and have a complicated regime before you can go out the door,” she says.

Be sparing with cleansers

Cleanse your face once a day, using a foaming cleanser for greasier skin and a creamy cleanser if skin is older and drier.

Micellar water is great for removing make-up and cleansing sensitive skin, says Dr See.

Support your skin microbiome

We have more than a kilogram of gut bacteria to help digestion and control bad bacteria.

“We also have trillions of micro-organisms on our skin that are important for immune defence,” says Dr Gillbro.

“They also produce compounds that combat dryness.

“If we wash that away, we wash away our body’s first line of protection.”

Apply sunscreen

After cleansing, use sunscreen – ideally SPF50+.

SPF50+ filters out 98 per cent of UVB radiation that causes sunburn and increases skin cancer risk.

“Wear lipstick or lip balm with an SPF too – pigment reflects ultraviolet light and protects lips against sun damage,” says Dr See.

Live well – and eat carrots

Stress takes a toll on skin – it becomes drier and takes longer to repair, says Dr Gillbro.

Quality sleep is also key because while we sleep, the hormone, melatonin, repairs skin damage.

A balanced diet rich in antioxidants, such as carotenoids, supports healthy skin, too – so stock up on carrots.

Written by Sarah Marinos.