It's Healthy Skin Month: 5 Skin Care Beliefs To Live By For A Glowing Complexion

mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department.
woman applying an eye mask

November is Healthy Skin Month. Here at mbg we are regularly talking about how the focus should first and foremost be on healthy skin—versus talking about skin as if it's purely a means for aesthetics. This shift in focus means we don't talk about anti-aging; we talk about healthy aging. We don't talk about "fighting" acne; we talk about tending to breakouts and soothing inflammation. We make a point to avoid recommending harsh products and treatments, instead suggesting that your skin can look its best if you just treat it carefully and intelligently. We don't talk about changing skin—we talk about transforming it. 

These are small shifts, but they add up to something bigger: The way you think about your skin affects the way you treat it. When you stop thinking about your skin care in terms of attacking wrinkles, breakouts, dark spots, and so on, you start to think about how you can mend these things instead. 

Your skin is not the enemy. Your skin is you. 

So when we started to think about healthy skin and how we put this mindset into practice every day, we came up with these principles. We hope you adopt them, too: 

1. Healthy skin starts at the cellular level.

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Healthy skin cells beget healthy skin. Yet so often we only talk about the skin at the surface level. However, to really make sure your skin looks its best for the long term, we need to investigate how it behaves cellularly. 

One way to help your cells is to go internal, with skin-smart supplements that support longevity, rejuvenation, and function. mindbodygreen's nr+ works to invigorate cells by enhancing their NAD+ levels, a vital part of cell function.* Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a naturally occurring coenzyme in the body that supports mitochondrial strength. (Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cells and basically account for all cellular energy and function.) nr+ does this by supplying the body with a form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide riboside (NR), which when ingested is converted into NAD+ in the body.* 

In fact, one study has shown that even within hours of taking nr, your NAD+ metabolism can boost cellular energy. Another clinical trial has shown that adults who took nr for at least eight weeks had restored their NAD+ to more youthful levels. (When your cells are energized, they are able to function optimally—including your skin cells.) After a few weeks, you can start to see your skin soften and smooth out, due to the ceramosides, which have been shown to reduce wrinkles after only 15 days.* After six weeks, you can find a significant enhancement in skin moisture and elasticity due to the repairing effects of astaxanthin.*

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2. We need to pay attention to our microbiome — it does more than we know.

The skin microbiome is the collection of trillions of microbes that live on our bodies, constantly changing due to the environment, performing specific functions particular to the area of the body, and regulating our skin. And the skin microbiome is not a monolithic thing: The skin microbiome changes depending on the "eco-niche," or location; the critters vary depending on the amount of light and whether the area is moist, dry, hairy, or oily. And the microbiome differs with age and gender. 

And while impressive new research has started coming out over the past several years, we are really only beginning to scratch the surface of what we know about it. "We typically think of skin only as it relates to beauty—but it's essential to our overall health, too," writes physician Kara Fitzgerald, N.D. "After all, it's the largest organ in the body and the major interface between us and pretty much everything outside of us. Our skin is also home to a vast array of microbes, and research has just begun to piece together the important role they play in our health, and more exciting research is on the horizon."

In the meantime, here's what we do know: When healthy, your microbiome communicates with our internal immune system, it acts as a barrier and can help crowd out pathogens and environmental aggressors, and it eases inflammation. That's a lot of roles.  

We also know, or at least are coming to understand, that many of our common skin care and hygiene practices are not helping it. Often topical products—like soaps, treatments, or ill-formulated creams—can dramatically alter the biome, resulting in weakened skin barrier function, inflammation, and a laundry list of other issues. 

Here's what you can do: Avoid harsh sulfates and surfactants that strip the skin and alter your pH, use high-quality natural emollients to help nourish good bacteria and microbes, and use biome-supporting skin care products that contain pre-, pro-, and postbiotics to help encourage a healthy environment. 

3. You can't treat your skin until you know your skin.

So often we rush through our routines, splashing on water, slathering on serums, and topping it off with oils and creams. And when we do pay attention to it, it's often because there's an issue we'd like to treat—so we pick, prod, overreact, and criticize our precious skin. 

Neither of these mindsets help us really understand our skin: what makes it upset, what works for it, how to tend to it during flare-ups, how to protect it, and how to keep it healthy long term. 

"There are two ways to pay attention to your skin," says licensed esthetician Hayley Wood, founder of Therapeutic Skin Coach. "You can do it through the lens of fear and self-criticism, or you can do it through the lens of love." 

So learn to live with your skin. Take time morning or night to touch, massage, and feel it. You can even adopt a simple gratitude practice with your skin, as you might in your day-to-day mindfulness routine. Once you are able to have this deeper connection with your skin, you will find that you simply start tending to it more thoughtfully. 

You deserve to have a healthy relationship with your skin.

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4. Your skin has powerful regenerative properties: So even if you're having a "bad skin day," know a good one is coming. 

We tend to think of our skin as stagnant, but remember, it is a living organ, constantly regenerating and healing itself.

In fact, wound healing is one of the skin's most important basic functions. And by "wound" we don't even necessarily mean actual cuts or gashes—in fact, irritated patches of skin, acne lesions, and the like are all things that the skin responds to as a wound: sending in plasma, white blood cells, collagen, and other skin cells to regenerate the area. Even certain treatments or ingredients (like glycolic acid) actively trigger your skin's wound-healing response in hopes of increasing collagen production in the area.   

This is all to say that your skin does a very good job of healing itself—so be mindful that if you are having issues with your skin today, your skin can and will heal itself to make it better tomorrow. Just give your skin time, patience, and the gentle care it deserves in the meantime. 

5. Mental health and skin are deeply connected.

The mental health and skin connection is twofold: Your mental state affects the way your skin functions, and the way your skin looks can affect the way you feel.

"There is no denying an intimate and intricate brain-skin connection. Aside from being derived from the same embryologic tissue, the ectoderm, the bond between the brain and skin is complex, fascinating, and is the focus of areas in both dermatology and medicine—known as psychodermatology and psychoneuroimmunology: the interplay between the mind, skin, and our immune system," writes board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D., about the brain-skin connection. "In plain English, this just means that what we think, feel, and see can play a significant role in what shows up on our skin."

Most often the connection is made between stress and inflammatory conditions like rosacea, acne, eczema, and so on. However, your mental health affects your skin in a wide variety of ways. 

Take, for example, dullness and tone. When you are stressed out, your body redirects blood and oxygen to primary organs like the brain, lungs, and heart. Thus, less makes its way to the skin—when this happens, your skin becomes more sallow and less vibrant. Or the stress hormone cortisol actually breaks down collagen, which can result in premature aging and fine lines. 

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The takeaway. 

Skin health is health—so treating skin isn't a frivolous or superficial endeavor. We encourage everyone to care for their skin, from tending to your mental health to caring for it internally and being gentle.

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