We’re tough on our skin

Not only with the products we often use on our skin, but with the daily self-criticism we endure every time we look in the mirror, dwelling over every little bump and blemish.

But Hush! A rogue pimple isn’t necessarily a sign of bad skin.

Is your skin healthy or unhealthy?

How can you tell the difference? What does healthy skin look like? Knowing the answers to these questions is the first step in determining how you should be taking care of your skin.  Many survivors find that it only takes a slight change in diet, medication or even weather to bring out rashes, bunps and blotches – but this is ‘normal’ for so many of us.

Our skin is our biggest organ, and deserves careful care.  So here are the signs that make for healthy skin, wherever and whoever you are, and whatever age:

1. Even Colour

The same colour across your body is a sign of youthful, healthy skin. Studies show consistent, even skin tone is actually a key element of attractiveness. Sadly, even skin tone fades with age, as accumulated sun damage creates age spots and other signs of unevenness. Examples of uneven skin tone include:

  • blotchiness
  • spots that are dark, light, or red
  • dark under-eye circles

2. Smooth Texture

Healthy skin looks and feels smooth. If you look at healthy skin up close, the surface appears to be “regularly irregular.” This means that the skin is not completely 100 percent smooth like glass, but has tiny peaks around hair follicles and pores, and tiny valleys in between the peaks. These peaks and valleys are consistent throughout the skin, giving it a uniform appearance.

Unhealthy skin, however, does not have a uniform texture. Examples of texture-related skin problems include:

3. Hydration

Healthy skin is hydrated skin. We’ve all heard the advice that we should drink water, and this is the cheapest and most effective advice you can take.  However, it doesn’t have to be the usual eight glasses a day, as long as you are drinking suitable, non-alcoholic liquids.

Dead skin cells are constantly shedding away, but it’s not noticeable to the naked eye. However, when skin is dehydrated and too many skin cells shed at the same time, skin appears visibly dry. It creates problems like:

4. Normal Sensations

If your skin is healthy, it shouldn’t feel like it’s there. You shouldn’t be able to notice it unless you’re looking into a mirror. Healthy skin doesn’t feel any unusual or uncomfortable sensations. In other words, has your face ever felt dry and tight after washing it? Dryness and tightness are unusual sensations, and in this case, those sensations were triggered by a cleansing product that is too harsh for the skin.

Another thing to watch out for is wrinkly skin after lying in bed for a long time.  We may notie this in elderly patients, but this can happen to much younger patients if they don’t take care of their skin, drink plenty of fluid whilst in bed, and exercise.

If you notice the skin on any part of your body feels strange, a product — like shaving cream or a body lotion — could be to blame. Signs of unhealthy skin sensations include: Or, likely with cancer patients, the side effects of the drugs we take.  These can produce horrendous skin lesions.  Other effects can be:

  • itching
  • burning
  • stinging
  • pulling
  • tightness
Every Day Care
Look after your face and use ‘proper’ products to cleanse, tone and moisturise.  Not soap and water please!
On your body, use gentle products for showering or bathing, and once dry make sure you use a skin balm or  cream all over – not forgetting backs of legs and especially arms, which get a lot of exposure to sun, wind and harsh conditions.
There are products specially created for cancer patients, and approved by cancer associations in other countries.  We have yet to develop something similar!  My favourites are:
Living Nature 
The inexpensive brand from New Zealand:
La Roche Posay   
Medium price range French products.  French women are probably the most sensible skin-aware nation, and take great care of it.  Their health service recognises that drugs have a dreadful effect on the skin, and are worth consulting lipikarThey make several ranges, developed to help specific skin problems.  I find the Lipikar range is the best, but use their Cicaplast hand cream – the best I have ever found.
 iS Clinical
This is a super-luxury range developed by Washington Cancer Centre.  If you want a touch of Hollywood glamour, Gwyneth Paltrow and other stars are said to use their products, and for cancer patients these provide superb care, especially when hit with drug side effects.  Last time I broke umpteen bones and landed up in hospital, iS Clinical saved my skin when it felt like sandpaper from side effects of pain killing drugs.   The product that saved my face was their Sheald –    
And they make a complete range of skincare, from serums to cleansers.
Whatever you do, realise that looking after your skin is a life-time regime, and make sure you cleanse your face and moisturise you body EVERY day.  There are NO SHORT CUTS if you want to keep ‘good’ skin.   But when you get old you will look years younger than your contemporaries!
You can buy these products now on Amazon:
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