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New Year, New Skin Cells!

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Happy new year! How does it feel for you? For us, like pretty much the entire rest of the world, we’re hopeful that 2021 will have more to celebrate than 2020. 

Wherever you sit on the coronavirus vaccine debate, whoever you saw over Christmas and wherever you are in the county, tier wise, we hope that you all feel more positive going into the new year. 

Have you set any new year resolutions? Most promises that we make to ourselves revolve around health, fitness and what we eat and drink. Some of us commit to giving up alcohol for the whole of January (Dry January) whilst others pledge to avoid all animal products for the month (Veganuary).

Then there’s others who simply say that they’re going to be more mindful of what they’re consuming and make the time to exercise more frequently. 

Some of us even tell ourselves that we’re already enough, just the way we are, and that nothing needs to change. (We salute your commitment to love and self care. Seriously, we all need a bit of that!) 

Whoever you are, we hope that you’re kind to yourself. Because remember at the start of 2020, before the words coronavirus, pandemic, social distancing and quarantine weren’t part of normal parlance? We all got behind the Be Kind movement and said that we’d be more tolerant and respectful of each other. 

Then Covid-19 happened and we were all thrown into a world where literally nothing made any sense. 

This year, perhaps we all need to be more kind to ourselves, and congratulate ourselves and loved ones for coming through 2020 despite everything we might have personally faced. 

Being kind to ourselves means treating ourselves like we would our loved ones. Not berating ourselves for not being a certain way or doing a certain thing. It means self care and love and respect for ourselves. Whatever that looks like to each of us - be it a bubble bath with a glass of wine or a 5km run! 

But it also means looking after ourselves. Staying fit and healthy isn’t just good for our physical health, it's great for our mental health too. And staying mentally fit is one of the best ways to deal with all that the coronavirus pandemic has and is still throwing at us. 

However, thehealth of our skin is also important for making us feel good...

So we’re suggesting that one way of being kind to ourselves is to do things that are kind to our skin! With any luck, we can emerge from this winter into the warmer weather with a renewed spring in our step - withvibrant, clear skin to match! Here’s how…

Turning over a new...skin cell? 

Our skin isconstantly renewing. Or rather, our skin cells are. All of the cells in our body have very different and distinct roles. For example, blood cells form different elements of the blood, neural cells are responsible for the workings of the brain and nervous system and heart cells form the heart and keep it pumping. 

Our so called ‘skin cell turnover’ refers to all cell types. It’s a complex process asthis scientific paper explains. But in a very simplified nutshell, all cells divide, grow, do their important business and then die, to be replaced by another identical cell. 

On average, this process takes around 28 days for a skin cell. The skin is made up ofseveral different layers, all with different roles. The fresh new skin cells begin life deep within the lower layers of skin and gradually work their way up towards the surface of the skin. 

As they move upwards, they’re pushing the older cells up with them. Eventually, old, dead skin cells end up on the surface of the skin, ready to flake away. That’s whyexfoliation is so important

Exfoliating once or twice a week (or as much or as little as your skin can take) helps to remove these dead, skin dulling, skin cells from the surface of the skin. If we don’t, then at best our skin will appear dull. At worse, the skin cells will accumulate in the skin’s pores potentially causing blockages, spots and acne breakouts. 

It’s for this reason, that skin specialists usually advise giving new skin care products around three months, sothree skin cell turnover cycles, to see if they’ll work for us. 

Healthy habits for healthy skin

It’s also for the same reason that the healthy habits you adopt now (new year resolutions, hello!) might take a while to show up in your skin. In fact, it may be three months before you notice any change.

But don’t let that put you off! 

Adopting a new healthy eating habit will take a while to achieve dropping a whole dress size. Starting up a running regime will take a while before you can run a 5km or further. 

In the same way, adopting skin healthy habits may take a while too. So here’s all the things you can start doing now that will help to guarantee your clear skin come the onset of spring!

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water - dehydration is only going to sap your skin of any glow! 
  • Remove your makeup, without fail, before you go to bed every single night. Leaving dirt, oil and makeup on your skin overnight will clog your pores and potentially cause spots and breakouts. 
  • Do all you can to avoid stress and get enough sleep. Stress and chronic fatigue can stress the skin but also make us choose less healthy life and dietary choices which will also affect the skin.
  • Aim for at least five different fruits and vegetables per day. They’re packed with skin loving antioxidants that support and nourish the skin.  

Healthier habits will take up to three months to show an effect in your skin. But trust us, your skin, and your future self, will thank you for the work you put in now! 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26865/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0074769608602879#:~:text=Cell%20renewal%20is%20the%20basis,be%20determined%20by%20mitotic%20count.

https://www.healthline.com/health/stratum-corneum


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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