8 surprising things you didn’t know about your skin

Experts reveal little-known facts that will help keep your complexion in tip-top condition.

We spend a lot of time and money pampering our skin, but how much do we really know about the largest organ in the body?

You might be surprised when you learn these fascinating facts from experts about our skin…

1. Your gut health affects your skin

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“If you have an unhealthy gut it can have a big impact on our overall health and especially the appearance of your skin,” says celebrity facialist Su-Man. “Your gut is 80% related to your skin health and can cause acne, rosacea and pigmentation if unbalanced.”

That’s why she tells her clients to massage their belly to “stimulate the flow of qi (vital energy) to promote balance and harmony within the body, based on traditional Chinese medicine philosophy”.

2. Moisturiser alone won’t combat ageing

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While every beauty buff knows that daily SPF is essential if you want to slow the signs of ageing, slathering on a load of day or night cream won’t keep wrinkles at bay.

“No amount of bathing our skin in moisturiser will prevent wrinkles,” says Dr Penelope Tympanidis, consultant dermatologist and founder of Dermaperfect. “They will help keep the skin hydrated and supple but it’s active ingredients in skin care like Retinol or Vitamin C that will make the difference.”

3. Dry skin can lead to infections

“People often complain about greater skin dryness in the colder months,” says says Dr Uliana Gout, President of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine and founder of London Aesthetic Medicine Clinic. “However, few realise that dry and cracked skin which is not managed properly also increases risk of fungal, bacterial and viral skin infections.”

Therefore, Dr Gout recommends upping your hydration levels from September onwards with a moisturising face cream: “My favourite ingredients these days are hyaluronic acid moisturisers – expensive but well worth the improvement they offer us.”

4. Dry skin and dehydrated skin are not the same thing

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Abi Cleeve, MD at Ultrasun UK and founder of SkinSense is also a fan of hyaluronic acid for dehydrated skin – which differs from dry skin.

“Dry skin is a type,” she says, “how skin naturally operates, so choose products formulated for dry skin, which needs a constant hydration flow.

“Dehydrated skin is a condition. Environmental pollutants dry out skin continuously, so incorporate hyaluronic acid, which is able to hold 1,000 times its weight in water.”

5. The ‘pinch test’ can identify dehydrated skin

Even if it’s not flaky, your skin could still be lacking in moisture, and there’s a quick trick you can use to find out.

“You can tell if your skin is dehydrated by doing a pinch test,” says facialist Abigail James, who is working with Holland & Barrett. “Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch approximately an inch of skin on the face – not pulling outwards but pushing in along the contour of the face.

“If you’re dehydrated the skin can look a little crepey. A dehydrated skin can also look a little dull and dry and even feel a little taught.”

6. Your lips are especially prone to moisture loss

“More moisture is lost through the lips than any other part of the body which can cause them to become particularly chapped and dry,” says LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Pareena Patel.

“Whilst it can be tempting to keep licking the lips or even picking off the dry skin, this can actually make it worse. The best treatment is regularly applying lip balm – particularly one with beeswax in.”

7. Combination skin is a bit of a myth

If you’ve noticed you have an oily T-zone but dry cheeks, you’ve probably been told you’ve got ‘combination skin’, but that could be a result of the products you’re using, according to Dr Mary Sommerlad, dermatologist on behalf of Cetraben.

“It is unusual to have extremes of this. If you do, it may be because you are using products that do not suit your skin type,” Dr Sommerlad says. “For instance, using products designed for oily skin which contain high levels of salicylic acid will dry and irritate your skin if you indeed have normal skin, leading to your normal areas of skin appearing dry and feeling uncomfortable.”

8. Most skin aging is caused by external factors

Think some people are just blessed with perfect skin and others aren’t? That’s not the case.

“Only 3% of our skin’s aging process happens because of ‘intrinsic’ factors like genetics,” says Dr Bhavjit Kaur, cosmetic doctor and co-founder of Health & Aesthetics Clinic.

“Extrinsic factors like UV exposure, smoking, pollution, poor diet and too much alcohol speed up the process by causing what’s called reactive oxygen species (ROS) or ‘free radicals’ which cause a cascade of cell damage and cause premature aging.”

So what can you do about it? Dr Kaur recommends hero ingredients like Vitamin C, niacinamide and ferulic acid to fight free radicals, and, of course, sunscreen.

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