Skin care advice: the sun and smoking

Skin care advice: the sun and smoking

There are so many reasons to follow some basic house rules about looking after your skin. Not only will it help to keep you looking younger and healthier, in the longer-term it will protect you from a range of debilitating and potentially lethal diseases. So what are the most basic, crucial aspects of skin care you should be most concerned about?

Exposure to the sun

Of all the environmental issues that can have considerable impact on your skin, exposure to the sun's rays definitely tops the list. The importance of protecting yourself from the sun cannot be overstated. Sun exposure is at the root of a diverse range of damaging issues to your skin. It can cause age spots, wrinkles, blemishes, and various other skin problems. Needless to say, the worst of these is increasing your risk of developing skin cancer.

So what are the best ways to go about protecting yourself from this silent menace? The optimum method of avoiding damaging rays is to keep in the shade. No matter where you are in the country, the sun approaches its zenith between 10 am and midday, and stays potent until later in the afternoon. During this period its rays are at their fiercest.

If you do have to go outdoors then you should always employ a suitable sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15, reapplying the lotion on a two-hourly basis. Should you happen to be on holiday in a climate that is particularly hot, as this will cause you to perspire you will need to reapply your sunscreen even more frequently. The same goes if you have been indulging in any watersport activity such as diving, sailing or swimming.

Protective clothing is another excellent way of combating sun exposure. You should cover your skin with long sleeved T-shirts and wear trousers that cover all of your legs. Wide-brimmed hats or baseball caps with a peak are also good choices. Laundry additives give your clothes an extra layer of ultraviolet protection for a certain period of time – but not indefinitely. Check the manufacturers' recommendations on the instructions.


You only have to look at seasoned smokers to see the destructive effect this habit has on their skin. Smoking has the effect of making skin look older, contributing to the wrinkles that can make even middle-aged people appear elderly. The reason for this phenomenon is that when people smoke it narrows the blood vessels in the outer layers of their skin, thus decreasing the blood flow to this part of their body.

Smoking also has the effect of depleting vital nutrients that are so important to the health of anyone's skin. It also starves the skin of oxygen. Adding to the negative effects of this habit, it damages the fibres that give your skin its elasticity and its strength – collagen and elastin. This is what makes your '20 a day' addicts such a leathery appearance!

If smoking couldn't get any worse, the action itself - pursing lips around the tip of the cigarette for inhaling, squinting eyes to keep out excess smoke, and repetitive facial expressions - all contribute to creating excessive wrinkles.

By far the best way to look after your skin in this respect is to not smoke. If you are seriously addicted to nicotine, you can refer to your doctor for advise about stopping.

Recommended fingernail care

Recommended fingernail care

Before outlining the useful steps anyone can take to ensure their fingernails are kept in maximum health, it is worth going back to some basic considerations. It would help with your fingernail maintenance if you appreciated exactly what these parts of your body are actually made of. Your nails are made from laminated layers of a substance known as keratin. This is a protein that grows from the area around the base, under the cuticles.

During this process, as new cells grow, older ones become compact and hard, eventually getting pushed out towards the tips. When your nails are healthy, they should be nice and smooth. There should not be any grooves or pits and their colour and consistency should be uniform. Don't be alarmed if the surface of these nails does appear to have a certain amount of vertical ridges, running from the direction of the cuticle towards the tip. These bridges are perfectly harmless, becoming more prominent the older you get. Damage to the nails can also cause white lines or spots to appear, but these will eventually grow out towards the fingertips as the growing process unfolds.

So here are the crucial aspects of keeping your fingernails in optimum health. Firstly, keep them clean and dry at all times. This will stop bacteria and fungi from flourishing beneath your fingernails. If you're going to be in subjecting your fingers to excess temperatures, either through dishwashing, or perhaps handling chemicals, then always wear rubber-lined gloves.

Make sure that your nails are filed and trimmed on a regular basis. The best way to achieve this is to use a sharp pair of manicure scissors, or nail-clippers. When you attend to your nails, cut them straight across, and then around the fingertips in a gentle curve. By far the optimum time to be dealing with your nails is when they are slightly moist. Immediately upon exiting a bath or shower would be the perfect opportunities.

The use of moisturiser is also excellent for your fingernails. If you happen to use a hand lotion, then rubbing the lotion from the palms and upwards into your fingernails and cuticles should be an integral part of the process.

What you should never be doing is abusing your fingernails in any way. Many people have developed nervous habits that involve biting their nails. This will merely cause the tips of the nail to serrate, meaning they will be more likely to snag in objects, perhaps getting torn away completely. If you are in a situation where you have to delve into something, always use an appropriate tool rather than using your fingernail as a convenient but far too sensitive alternative.

Perhaps most importantly, if you suspect there is a problem with your fingernails, do not ignore it under the false hope that it will go away. Seek professional advice from your doctor or dermatologist. This is what they are therefore

Skin care advice: lotions and dieting

Skin care advice: lotions and dieting

Most people enjoy the basic human function of washing. It makes us feel refreshed and revitalised, and a shower or even a swift wash at the sink is often what kick-starts our day. But that daily activity of cleansing can take its tall. So in order to keep your skin in peak condition it is advisable to follow some basic precautions.

It can be very tempting to relax and soak in a hot bath for a long time, or just remain under your shower enjoying those soothing jets. However, in time, being blasted by all this water actually removes vital oils from your skin. What you should really get into the habit of doing is limiting the amount of time you spend in your bath or under your shower. Additionally, you can choose to employ warm rather than overly hot water. 

Detergents and soaps can also remove oil from your skin. What you want to do is avoid using strong soaps, and choose milder cleansing agents instead. When it comes to shaving your skin, always apply cream gel or lotion in the first instance. For a close shave of legs or arms, employ a clean, sharp razor. Disposable razors are fine for a short term, don't keep on re-using them as they will eventually get blunt and the blade will not be nearly as effective. Also ensure that you shave in the direction that the hair grows rather than going against the grain.

Once you have bathed your skin you should gently blot or pat it dry with a towel. If you rub the skin too vigorously with a towel you will do subtle damage. Far better to employ the former technique that will ensure some moisture will remain on the surface of the skin. 

If your skin is particularly dry, then seek advice about which moisturizer would best shoot your skin type. If you would like to use a moisturizer on a daily basis you should also consider whether or not it contains SPF.


DietAdopting a healthy diet has multiple benefits. Aside from the obvious effects on countering potential weight issues, your skin will certainly be affected. In order to look your best you don't have to starve yourself. Simply enjoy the food you like in moderation. There are numerous diets to choose from, but the common denominator in most is to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grain products. Scientists remain unclear about the link between acne and dieting, although certain research papers have suggested that any diet regime that is rich in vitamin C and low in unhealthy fats will have a positive effect on skin.

People who do not adopt healthy diets run the danger of putting on excess weight. This can eventually begin to put pressure on areas of your skin, particularly around your midriff. As weight fluctuates it will have the effect of expanding and then contracting skin. This will not only damage the surface of the skin, it will leave unseemly stretch marks.

Tips for oral care

Tips for oral care

Oral hygiene is one of the most important considerations when it comes to personal health. A great number of germs and other foreign bodies can access your body via this orifice, so it's of the utmost importance to keep it as clean as possible.

An oral irrigator is perfect for the job. So how do these gadgets actually work? Basically, an oral irrigator provides your mouth with its very own jet wash. Pressurized water is aimed at its target, cleaning unwanted plaque, as well as other food particles that might be lodged between the teeth, and also around the margin where your teeth meet the gums.

Irrigators are sometimes known as water jets, for obvious reasons. They are most popular for those of us who struggle to get the task done with toothpaste and flossing alone.

Counter top water irrigator

This type of irrigator is mains-powered. They will contain extensive reservoirs of water for the task, meaning that they are suitable for multiple uses. The irrigator's large reservoir is connected to the handle by a flexible tube. The flow of the irrigator is managed by a setting on the irrigator, which can be adjusted. Similarly, a button on the handle can help to control the rate of water flow.

Cordless water irrigator

These units are built with a re-chargeable battery, and the reservoir is built into the gadget's handle. They are equally as powerful as the counter top water irrigators, but they tend to have fewer adjustable parameters. This means that they are not quite as reliable as the counter top water irrigators. Where these machines really come into their own is in bathrooms that don't have a dedicated shaver socket. They are also ideal for anyone who has to travel a lot.

There are a variety of irrigators on the market. Some have large enough reservoirs to get that mouth rinsed for four separate uses. With up to 10 pressure controls and as many as six different styles of tips, these are often quite rightly regarded as the ultimate in luxurious water flossers. Most of these units have been upgraded to work on British shaver sockets.

Nano versions are useful because they are so cost effective. One advantage of these smaller, more compact irrigators is that they are much quieter than their more powerful counterparts. Although they have fewer controls, they are very flexible for bathroom use, coming with a to-pin shaver plug.

Air Floss irrigators are relatively new in the market, but one particular model that is already making a name for itself is the Philips Sonicare AirFloss HX8111/2. Philips are quite rightly regarded as purveyors of quality products, and this one is no exception. It uses a type of patented technology know as ‘microburst', which is extremely effective at delving into the gaps between teeth; and between teeth and gums. This is also a cost-effective irrigator as it only requires a fraction of the fluid, compared to other irrigators.

They are popular because the low volume of water means you don't suffer from excess water trickling from your mouth. Its affordability means that you can also afford to splash out on your favourite mouthwash.