3 facts you should know about your skin

3 facts you should know about your skin

Changes in thickness, dryness, and texture can indicate thyroid or other problems.

Taking care of your skin is probably second nature by now. You know to slather on SPF each morning and scan for new and changing moles to keep your skin happy and healthy. But despite understanding how to combat wrinkles and ward off disease, there’s a fair share that you might not know about your body’s largest organ. Read on for seven interesting facts about your skin.

1. Your skin’s appearance and texture can give you clues about the rest of your health.

Sometimes, changes in your skin can signal changes in your health as a whole. For example, according to Brooke Jackson, MD, Director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago, “The hormones that the thyroid produces are directly responsible for the natural fats that protect the skin, as well as hair and cell growth and hair pigmentation.”

She explains that in a person with hyperthryroidism (when the thyroid overproduces thyroid hormone), the epidermis––the outer layer of skin––may thicken and skin may be soft. With hypothyroidism (when the thyroid under-produces thyroid hormone), on the other hand, symptoms include very dry skin and thickened skin on the palms and soles. Another way your skin can tip you off to health issues: Acanthosis nigricans, a condition in which skin around the neck darkens and changes in texture, is often associated with diabetes, according to D’Anne Kleinsmith, MD, dermatologist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI.

2. Everyone has the same pigment in their skin that’s responsible for color.

Melanin, explains Josie Tenore, MD, SM, is a coloring pigment that is present in all people’s skin—regardless of race. “The difference in skin tone between people of different races—and between people of the same race––lies in how much of this pigment is present, and its distribution within the skin.”

More specifically, everyone—no matter how dark or pale they are––has the same number of melanocytes, which are the cells that make melanin, explains Arnold Oppenheim, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. “It’s their product, melanosomes—which contain the melanin––that differ. Some people have denser and larger ones, which make their skin darker.” Also, the denser and closer together they are, “the more protection the skin is afforded from skin cancer,” he says.

3. As we age, our skin sheds cells more slowly.

Ever wonder why children have such naturally rosy and dewy skin? While skin of all ages produces new cells which eventually move to the surface and shed off, young people’s skin does this more often, according to Dr. Tenore. “In kids, this happens every two to three weeks, which gives them that vibrant, shiny skin. But as we age, this process becomes slower. More dead cells stay on the surface, resulting in that dull, dehydrated look.”

She adds that exposure to direct sunlight slows down the sloughing off process even further because UV light decreases cellular turnover. Depending on your skin type—your dermatologist can identify yours––daily exfoliation or a topical antioxidant serum that contains retinoids, vitamins and peptides can help encourage cell turnover, according to Francesca Fusco, MD, a New York City dermatologist.

How to find best glasses to your face

How to find best glasses to your face

The right specs can be your best beauty asset. See how to pick the best glasses for your face shape.

Widen an Oval Face

Skinny rims can make a narrow mug seem stern. To soften things up, choose glasses with extra deep rims, so they cover more real estate. “Opt for frames that go just beyond temples. The added width will help fill out a sharp face,” says Larry Leight, founder and creative director of Oliver Peoples in Los Angeles.

Downplay a High Forehead

An elongated upper deck can look stark, especially if you want to wear a slicked-back ‘do. Rather than resigning yourself to a lifetime of bangs, try frames that sit high up on your face and cover your eyebrows, Leight suggests. They will help close the distance between the top of the frames and your hairline.

Soften a Strong Jaw

If a prominent chin is drawing focus away from your brilliant baby blues, browns or greens, pick up frames with rounded curves or embellished rims, preferably accented with a bright color or detail along the brow line. Steer clear of spectacles with hard 90-degree angles; they’ll emphasize the pointiness of a chiseled jawbone.

Beef Up Disappearing Brows

Fake fuller brows and direct all eyes to your face by getting brow-line-style frames. The specs feature a thick plastic top line or have gradient shading. (The color of the rims fades from dark at the top to light on the bottom.) Choose frames that mimic the contours of your brow bone to bring even more attention to your peepers.

Seven little instant health boosts

Seven little instant health boosts

1. Giggle

Health boost: Improve blood flow by 21%

A good laugh can be good for your heart. One recent study from the University of Texas at Austin found that those who chuckled while watching a comedy increased the dilation of blood vessels by one-fifth for up to 24 hours; when they watched a serious documentary, the arteries actually constricted by 18%. (Constricted blood vessels can lead to high blood pressure.)

“When you’re happy, your body releases feel-good neurochemicals, which can have numerous favorable effects on the body,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.

2. Brush and floss

Health boost: Cut risk of head and neck cancer by 400%

Take good care of your smile and you’ll have more than just white teeth to show for it. New research from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, shows that people with the chronic gum disease periodontitis have a fourfold risk of developing a type of head or neck cancer (which makes up about 5% of all malignancies in the United States), especially in the mouth and throat. The risk was increased even among patients who never used tobacco. Gum disease occurs when the bacteria that live in plaque infect the gums, so brush and floss regularly to prevent plaque buildup.

3. Brew a pot of tea

Health boost: Cut stroke risk by 21%

Sipping tea may help protect you from a life-threatening stroke, according to a study from UCLA School of Medicine. Researchers there examined data from nine studies detailing almost 4,400 strokes among 195,000 people and found that those who drank at least three cups a day had one-fifth the risk of stroke, compared with those who drank less than one cup. It doesn’t matter if you prefer green or black tea—both are made from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, whose powerful antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and amino acid theanine may protect vessels and arteries.

4. Pen a thank-you note

Health boost: Feel 20% happier

Students who wrote letters expressing gratitude to someone special were happier and more satisfied with their lives, researchers at Kent State University found. Other research has shown that expressive writing may improve immune, lung, and liver function; reduce blood pressure; and provide a greater sense of well-being.

But be sincere: “It has to be a heartfelt sentiment showing significant appreciation,” says researcher Steven Toepfer, PhD, an assistant professor of family and consumer studies. Dashing off a quick e-mail or texting a pal might not have the same effect, adds Toepfer, who says taking the time to put pen to paper allowed students to reflect: “Through the process of writing, they had time to think about the links they established between themselves and others and to count their blessings a bit, which made them feel more grateful.”

5. Hide your TV remote

Health boost: Whittle 2 inches from your belly

When switching TV stations, put down the remote, get up, and do it manually. An Australian study found that people who did the greatest amount of light activity during otherwise sedentary behavior, such as watching TV, had 16% smaller waist circumferences than those who were inclined to stay put. Even the simple act of getting up and walking around for a minute or so was enough to make a difference, regardless of whether they had a regular workout schedule.

They also had lower body mass indexes and triglyceride and glucose levels, all of which are associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. More ways to break up an otherwise inactive day: Stand up every time the phone rings at your desk; take the long way back to your desk after a bathroom break; do some stretches before reading a new e-mail.

6. Doodle during work meetings

Health boost: Improve memory by 29%

People who doodled while listening to a recorded message had nearly one-third better recall of the details than those who didn’t draw, according to a study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology. “Doodling acts as a buffer against daydreaming,” explains researcher Jackie Andrade, PhD, a professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth in England. “It provides just enough distraction to stop you from drifting off, but you can still focus on what is being said.”

7. Keep your doctor on speed dial

Health boost: Slash medical mistakes up to 25%

Don’t assume that no news is good news when you’ve had a checkup: Physicians fail to inform 1 out of every 14 patients whose abnormal test results are clinically significant, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine; among some doctors, the number of no-calls was as high as 1 in 4. Delayed diagnoses can be linked to thousands of serious injuries and health crises—and even deaths—each year.

“If you are subjecting your vein to a needle, you have a right to know what the test is for and why it matters,” says Katz. Talk with your doctor about when you’ll hear about results, and if she finds something that requires treatment, when you might expect to hear from her again. You can always follow up with her after that date.