Sun, 25 Nov 2001

Beauty is not skin-deep but a good diet will help

Maria Endah Hulupi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Age does not matter for 43-year-old Lala. The mother of two still deserves public attention, despite the visible fine lines under her eyes.

Apparently, it's not her looks nor fancy dress but her dark brown skin that radiates a healthy glow.

Dermatologist with the Jakarta Skin Center Kusmarinah Bramono explained that healthy diet and habits, adequate sleep and a balanced lifestyle could enhance your complexion.

She defined a beautiful skin as one that had a healthy blush and a well-moistened, natural glow.

Kusmarinah added that bad diet was the most common reason why the skin lost its natural glow.

"Sometimes, people, especially women, get the wrong idea about diet and they restrict their calorie intake to an unhealthy level, which can affect their health and how their skin looks," she said, while explaining that naturally, the skin rejuvenation process required adequate protein, vitamins and minerals, which could be fulfilled from a balanced daily diet.

Lack of protein will affect muscle tone, and the skin will look dull and dry. Vitamin C deficiency can make the skin bleed easily, while the lack of vitamin B can lead to hair loss and make the skin lose its healthy tint and become prone to disorders.

"Consuming lots of vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables will help. But we cannot say that other food groups are not important so it's not right to focus only on certain foods alone. The key is a balanced diet," Kusmarinah said.

She added that the body had a natural mechanism to control balance. It eliminates excess dischargeable elements through urine and excrement, while those undischargeable elements might accumulate in the organs and, in the long term, become a potential health hazard.

The dermatologist also said that healthy people with proper eating habits did not need supplements, "unless they consume junk or nonnutritious food. Sick people or those who are too active and have very little sleep need supplements," Kusmarinah said.

Drinking plenty of water is important for the metabolism and good excretion. "It helps the kidneys remove toxic matter in the system through urination and helps the intestines work smoothly. The effect can also be seen in the body, not just the skin," she said, while also advising people to quit bad habits like smoking and drinking alcohol.

Having a good sleep also plays an important role in beautifying the skin because when we are asleep, the body also takes a rest from the daily routine. During the sleeping period of eight to nine hours, the body produces and releases hormones to repair body and skin cells.

The positive effect of regular exercise is noticeable in muscle tone, which can make the skin look firm.

A balanced and healthy lifestyle is also affected by psychological well-being, she added.

"Stress and other psychological factors may affect the skin. There is a skin disorder known as neurodermatitis that commonly manifests itself in itchiness or eczema and usually occurs when a person is nervous or emotionally unstable," she explained.

Another basic rule is maintaining personal hygiene by bathing regularly. "Failure to ensure personal hygiene will not only result in body odor but also make the skin prone to acne and infections caused by bacteria, candidae or virus," she said.

She advised the use of pH-balanced soap appropriate to skin type and against the overuse of skincare products, like antiseptic soap or bath salts, which may lead to irritations and dry skin.

"Use body lotion to moisturize your skin, especially after bathing, when the skin is still damp," Kusmarinah added.

"Choosing the right cosmetic products for your skin is also important: It's advisable to consult an expert and try out the products before buying."

And just before going to bed, Kusmarinah said, make sure to gently and thoroughly cleanse the face to remove impurities, makeup products and to avoid clogging the pores, which can lead to acne.