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Home :: Skin care :: Seven Deadly Skin Sins

Seven Deadly Skin Sins

All the skin care in the world won't help if you don't tackle the factors that destroy your skin. Here are the seven deadly skin sins and solutions to help you beat them.


Did you know that if you protected your skin from the sun you wouldn't get a wrinkle on your face until you were 60. Exposing your face to sunlight is the fastest way to age your skin. When ultraviolet light hits the skin's surface it produces molecules called free radicals which destroy healthy cells. They're particularly fond of collagen and elastin the two ingredients that help keep skin firm and elastic. The further the collagen and elastin degrade, the faster wrinkles appear on your skin in peak sunlight, collagen and elastin damage can occur in as little as three minutes. The good news is that you can prevent sun damage quite simply by wearing sunscreen when ever you leave the house for day-to-day wear SPF-15 is enough, but if you're on the beach or sightseeing on holiday, wear SPF-30 or above. Australian research has shown that this does more than just protect against further damage. Wearing high-factor (SPF 30+) sunscreen every day also helps reverse past damage, as the skin gets the chance to repair itself to really protect your skin, you need to use enough to fill a shot glass to cover your body and about a teaspoonful on your face. Apply this at least half an hour before you go into the sun, as it takes this long for the ingredients to be absorbed, and then reapply every 90 minutes. Finally, stay out of the sun or at least stay covered up between the peak hours of 11 to 3 PM even the strongest sunscreen only filters out 99 per cent of rays and sunbathing in these hours can still cause damage to your skin.


After exposure to sunlight, smoking is the next most damaging thing you can do to your skin. First, the nicotine in cigarettes constricts the blood vessels of the face, making your skin look grey or sallow. Next, an ingredient called acetaldehyde goes to work, attacking the fibres in your skin that hold it together. Finally a chemical reaction occurs which creates a protein that causes the destruction of collagen and elastin. Add to this the constant creasing and wrinkling of the eyes due to smoke irritation (you might not even realize you do it, but you do) and the pursing of the lips as you inhale and it's easy to see why the average smoker looks around 10 years older than a non-smoker of the same age. The solution is simple quit. Studies show that quitting before you are 30 returns your body to the level of a non smoker within 10 years, and this goes for your skin as well as your lungs. Now we know that quitting smoking isn't as easy as one, two, three, but it is possible with dedication, perseverance and a methodical approach. Our top tips should help you crack it.

Choose a day

The day before, throw away anything that reminds you of smoking cigarettes, matches, ashtrays. It will also help to wash curtains and hoover carpets and furniture to get the smell from your house.

Change your Routine

Avoid activities you associate with smoking, or do them differently. If you always light up with a glass of wine, for example, drink lager or diet cola instead. If you smoke in front of your favorite soap, record the episodes for a couple of weeks to stop your need to habit-puff.

Eat lots of Fruit and Vegetables

This helps neutralize the nicotine in your system faster and reduces withdrawal cravings. If cravings do strike, sniff black pepper. Studies have shown that it stops them in their tracks.


While nicotine constricts blood vessels, alcohol dilates them and in sensitive skins this can lead to broken veins and high colour. Alcohol also contains acetaldehyde which attacks skin fibres, reducing firmness and elasticity. It dehydrates the skin as little as two drinks a day have been shown to dry the skin enough to make wrinkles more prominent finally, alcohol destroys vitamin C, one of the most important nutrients for healthy skin functioning, alcohol-related problems can occur after two drinks, so try not to drink more than three days, aim for three alcohol-free days a week and try to drink at least two glasses of water for every glass of alcohol.


Stress affects the skin in a number of ways. First it increases levels of adrenal hormones like testosterone, which have been linked to the triggering of acne. In fact, stress is being blamed for the increase in so called adult acne in career women. The stress hormones also cause blood fiow to be directed away from the surface of the skin to your limbs and major organs (in case you need to run away). This means that your skin doesn't get all the nutrients it needs and takes on a grey pallor to add insult to injury, you can't repair these problems with skin care as effectively when you're stressed. Studies show that stressed skin doesn't absorb products as well as relaxed skin. If stress does hit, knowing how to keep calm will help your skin survive. Try sniffing lavender or adding a few drops to your bathwater (it has been shown to increase relaxation levels in the brain), exercising, which releases calming chemicals in to the body or deep breathing, which slows the heart rate and triggers the production of more calming chemicals.

Lack Of Sleep

Not getting the right amount of sleep is a disaster for your skin.nigh time when the skin repairs itself you build new cells and replace collagen and elastin damaged by the day's exposure to sun and pollution. The skin is also more absorbent at night, which means it takes in treatments more effectively in fact, research shows that up to 25 percent more of some vitamin treatments enter the skin at night compared to during the day. Lack of sleep cuts these benefits and causes side effects of its own, such as dark circles, sallowness and puffiness under the eyes, as the skin diverts blood to fuel the tired brain and other organs. It can even cause spots, as studies show that people pick at their skin more when they're tired and this can introduce bacteria. In an ideal world we'd all get the ideal amount of sleep for our bodies every night, though this doesn't necessarily mean eight hours. Sleep experts admit that some of us do thrive on four hours a night, while others needs at least 10 to feel their best. To find out how much is night for you, go to bed when you're tired and get up when you wake up for a week,and calculate how long you spent in bed, divide the week's total by seven that's your optimum sleepload. If you find it hard to get to sleep, there are things that can help. Researchers have found that taking a bath with the water at a temperature of 38 to 41 degrees centigrade promotes the production of sleep hormones. Add some lavender or melissa oils to the water and you'll compound these benefits. Milky drinks can also induce sleepiness, and if all else fails, try some herbal help with supplements of valerian or passion flower, which have been shown to assist people to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.


Pollution and harmful chemicals are another cause of free radicals in the skin and can contribute to ageing on average we breathe in two grams of pollution and eat five kilograms each of food additives and pesticides every year. Avoiding pollution is tricky. However you can help fight internal damage by increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, which contain antioxidants to fight the damage, and also by choosing organic produce where possible.

Lack Of Exercise

Physical activity helps boost skin tone by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood and reducing the amount of toxins that build up under your skin. It also boosts skin health by increasing your tolerance to stress and helping you sleep studies show that people who work out fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer than those who don't. For optimum skin health, do three sets of 20 minutes exercise a week this should be anything that makes you out of breath and starts your heart pumping faster try running swimming, cycling, even dancing, just so long as it gets you moving.