The skin is the largest organ in the body and since it’s the most exposed to the environment, you need to nourish it. A regular cleaning, toning and moisturising routine helps your skin look supple even as you age.
To clean face, use a face wash — a coin-sized drop is enough — at least three to four times per day, especially when you step in from outdoors. Next comes the toner to remove traces of oil and dirt. A toner is a mild astringent, but if your skin is oily, switch to an stringent during hot, sweaty months. Make sure to moisturise your entire body, especially dry areas such as the hands and elbows.
Do not use bleach or scrub more then once in three weeks as using these frequently can damage skin. Anti-wrinkle creams, eye creams and night creams should be used after the age of 30 years.
Among the driest parts of the body are your lips, which chap easily as they have no moisturising glands. Apart from dry weather, overexposure to the sun, frequent biting or licking, and vitamin deficiencies can cause chapping. Applying of lip balm can only offer temporary relief.
To keep lips soft, apply lip balm or petroleum jelly every half hour. Use a balm with sun block before stepping out. Matte lipsticks are moisturising compared to frosted products, always apply balm before using a lipstick.
Home remedies such as applying desi ghee only work if practiced regularly.
Nails that are brittle peel or break easily. The most common causes of brittle nails are nutritional imbalance, anaemia and thyroid disturbance. The main culprit, however, is overexposure to water. Nails absorbs up to 25% of their weight in water. Add to this harsh detergents, nail polish removers and minor traumas such as nail-biting or finger-drumming, and you have nails on the brink of breakdown. Improving your nutrition is the easiest way to keep your nails healthy.
Increase the protein content of your diet and include soya in your meals at least once a week. Biotin, a B-complex vitamin that helps strengthen nails, is found in cauliflower, peanuts and lentils. You can also have biotin supplement in the form of tablets (Tab BTN). Take one tablet daily for 15 days. Repeat every three months for a year.
Soaking your nails in oil works well after bathing or using detergents to replenish the moisture lost. Just brush on the oil and massage it into the nails. If your nails still remain brittle, get your haemoglobin and thyroid levels checked.
Remember that your skin and nails indicate your overall health status.
Dr Shehla Agarwal is a consultant dermatologist and director of Mehak Skin Clinic in south Delhi’s Sarvodaya Enclave