Close-up of a woman does a moisturizer on face

How Can I Restore My Healthy Skin?

From diet to sleep to sunscreen, local dermatologists explain what it takes.

June Allan Corrigan Health & Wellness

Close-up of a woman does a moisturizer on face

For all practical purposes, your skin functions as a barrier to protect your body from harmful things in the outside world. Skin also regulates body temperature and allows you to feel sensations such as warmth, cold, pressure, itching, and pain. We ask a lot of the body’s largest organ every day — not to mention the sizable expectations we have about our appearance. Which begs the question: What is healthy skin and how does one achieve it?

“When we talk about healthy skin, two of the most important things are tone and texture,” says Dr. Timothy Jochen, a dermatologist with Contour Dermatology, which has offices in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, and La Quinta. Is skin smooth and soft to the touch? Does it have texture problems? The pores and tiny hairs on the surface of skin will always result in a slightly irregular surface, which is perfectly natural. Unhealthy skin, however, has no uniform texture and could be marred by acne, scars, bumps, or premature signs of aging such as wrinkles. In some complexions, pigmentation problems may arise.

A healthy diet lays the foundation for healthy, clear skin. “If you’re eating plenty of antioxidants and proteins,” Jochen says, “these will nourish your skin to keep the tissue healthy and support the body’s production of collagen.”

Getting the proper amount of sleep also promotes the cause, as will finding ways to manage your stress. Smoking, meanwhile, adversely affects collagen and elastin, proteins that help keep skin plump and firm.

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The healthy glow that sunshine was once thought to bestow fell out of favor amid therising incidence of skin cancer. “One of the most important things you can do for your skin whether you’re 20, 50, or 80 is wear sunscreen,” says Dr. Michael Messina, a dermatologist with Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Specialists in Palm Desert. “Liberal application helps prevent photoaging, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles, but it ultimately keeps skin healthier too.”

Messina should know. He encounters evidence of skin cancer in patients every day. “Unfortunately, the sun has the ability to thin the skin as well,” he says. “If people would wear a daily moisturizing sunscreen, they’d find that 20, 30, even 40 years later, they’ll have healthy-looking and -feeling skin.” He recommends using a zinc oxide variety rather than chemical-based sunscreens.

In the desert, regular use of a good moisturizer becomes even more important. Healthy skin should not be dry or flaky, and most people don’t moisturize as much as they should. Although women are usually diligent about applying moisturizer to their face and hands, they sometimes neglect other regions. Men, meanwhile, are typically lax in all departments. Jochen advises, “Use a moisturizer that contains ceramides, as they mimic the natural oils in your skin and make your skin look dewy.”

If you think it’s too late to do anything about the hours you once spent in the sun without any kind of protection, Retin-A needs to become a regular part of your skincare regimen. “Many people don’t realize daily use of Retin-A can actually reverse a lot of the damage the sun has inflicted over time,” Messina says. Retin-A works on a cellular level, leaving the skin fresher, smoother, and more evenly pigmented. It stimulates collagen production and causes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to lessen over time.

A mere glance at someone’s skin can reveal a lot about them, including the state of their health and potentially their age. Internal and external factors affect the outer covering we all show the world, and everyone has the power to change their approach to dermal care. Healthy skin is within reach. If you have dry or oily skin or inflammation of the skin, work with a dermatologist who can prescribe treatments to restore your healthy glow.