When you think of organs, your heart, lungs, and kidneys may be first to come to mind.
But you might be overlooking your body’s largest and most visible organ: the skin.
Far from simply looking pretty, the skin plays a crucial role in protecting your body from harmful organisms and regulating body temperature.
It’s much more than something you see in the mirror every day. Good skin health can lead to better overall health.
Read on to peel back the layers of what your skin can really do and how you can best care for this superhero organ.
How to care for your superhero skin
Skin care products are a dime a dozen. Looking at a list of the latest so-called “must-have” products can be overwhelming.
But experts say there are simple ways to care for your skin. It may come as a surprise that you might want to look outside the beauty aisle.
Care from the inside out
Some dermatologists say there’s truth to the adage, “You are what you eat,” at least when it comes to skin care.
Mokaya recommends foods rich in:
- antioxidants, including dark, leafy greens, spinach, kale, and berries to counteract free radicals and environmental damage
- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds to strengthen the skin’s lipid barrier
- probiotics, like yogurt, and prebiotics, found in high fiber items like fruit and vegetables to enhance the skin’s barrier
Mokaya suggested limiting highly processed and sugary foods when possible.
Research suggestsTrusted Source a link between high-sugar diets and acne, and a 2021 study indicatedTrusted Source that eating processed food is associated with atopic dermatitis.
What your skin really needs to be healthy
There are more than enough skin care products to choose from. Mokaya suggests paring down your routine to only a few basic products.
She says everyone should invest in:
- a good cleanser that suits your skin type and needs
- a moisturizer that suits your skin type and needs
- a broad-spectrum sunscreen
Unexpected self-care activities that support the skin
Self-care is an essential part of skin care — and that doesn’t mean simply a day at the spa.
Experts share a few at-home activities that can give your superhero organ a boost, including:
- Exercise: Mokaya and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) say exercise increases blood flow to all organs, including the skin. The AAD recommends using a cleanser containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide post-sweat session to clear pores and prevent breakouts.
- Sleep: Mokaya says the skin regenerates during sleep. Adults 18 to 60 years old should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.
- Go outside: Goodman notes the air inside is often drier, particularly when the heat is on during the cooler months. Going outside can reduce this issue and relieve stress, which can trigger acne according to a 2017 studyTrusted Source.