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When it comes to looking good a decent grooming routine is only part of the story – you need to look after skin from the inside too.

Measuring two square metres, weighing around 4kg and accounting for around 7% of your total bodyweight, skin is the body’s largest organ. It’s also one of the most important. As well keeping bugs, bacteria, UV light and harmful chemicals out it also helps keep some pretty important stuff in.

It allows us to regulate temperature and distinguish between sharp and soft. It can reveal our age, our feelings and our race. Part defence shield, part sensory apparatus, it’s one of the most miraculous organs in the body. Which is why it’s so important to look after it.

Using scrubs and face washes to keep it clean and serums to protect it against environmental aggressors is only part of the overall protection plan: if you really want to look after your skin you have to look after it from the inside too. Here’s how…

1. Keep it watered

Water is crucial for optimum skin function and it’s no co-incidence that dry skin ages faster and is more susceptible to damage. Amongst other things, water helps transport essential nutrients to cells and helps remove the toxins that can make skin look below par.

To ensure adequate hydration you need to drink around 1.5 litres of water a day. But downing endless bottles of spring water isn’t necessarily the best way to stay hydrated – particularly as you’re likely to, er, ‘eliminate’ much of it before it gets chance to do much good.

A much better way to up your water intake is with moisture-rich fresh fruit and veg which release their fluid content in a more controlled, steady way as they’re digested, providing skin with a constant supply of moisture.

Don’t discount fluid from things like soup, smoothies or from tea and coffee either (nutritionist Ian Marber reckons the diuretic effect of the last two isn’t nearly as bad as we used to think). The key is to ensure you’re always hydrated: if you find yourself feeling thirsty it’s already too late.

2. Boost its collagen

As we age the production of collagen – the structural protein that acts a bit like scaffolding for skin – begins to slow down. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can help support it with vitamin C and sulphur – two nutrients essential for collagen production, both of which are found in superfoods like broccoli and kale.

It’s worth cutting back on your sugar intake if you want to protect collagen. One of skin’s worst enemies, sugar bonds with it in a process known as glycation, weakening the collagen and leaving skin susceptible to premature ageing.

Such an impact does sugar have on skin that a study by Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands discovered that the higher a person’s blood sugar levels the more likely they are to look older than they really are. Bottom line? If you want good skin it might be time to ditch the doughnuts.

3. Get the right fats

Using Stoer’s Firm & Protect Serum is a great way to ensure skin is adequately hydrated but to avoid dry skin you also need to ensure you’re getting enough essential fatty acids.

Top of your list should be Omega 3 which is found in oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. This fatty acid helps skin lock in moisture and is also involved in the production of skin’s natural protective oil, sebum.

One study, by the University of Manchester, showed that Omega 3 may even be able to help boost skin’s immunity to sunlight, helping prevent skin cancer in the process. Don’t worry if you’re not a huge fan of fish – you can find it in Omega 3 enriched eggs, avocados and flaxseed too.

4. Exercise your way to better skin

Regular exercise isn’t just good for bones, muscles and your overall health, it’s good for skin too. For starters, sweating helps eliminate toxins and physical activity aids better sleep (and good sleep is crucial to skin health since it’s while we’re resting that skin repairs itself). In a very basic way, exercise also gets the blood pumping, allowing nutrients and oxygen to reach the skin’s surface where they can help repair damage caused by environmental pollutants, toxins and sun damage.

The effects of regular work-outs on skin were spotted by a study by McMaster University in Ontario who analysed the skin of men over 40 and discovered that those who exercised frequently had skin that was more like guys in their 20s and 30s.

5. Up your antioxidant intake

We all know about the importance of protecting our skin against the ravaging effects of sun damage. (Stoer are in the process of perfecting their formula for release later this year) But using a moisturiser with a built-in sunscreen is just one way to guard against the sun’s rays: you need to protect it from the inside too.

Numerous studies have shown that antioxidant vitamins – like vitamins A, C and E – play a crucial role in helping defend skin from the harmful free radicals that sun exposure can create.

You can give skin an instant vitamin shot with Stoer’s Vitamin Power Mask but it’s worth upping antioxidant levels from the inside too by munching on antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, cherries, strawberries, kale and watercress.

You might want to think about upping your lycopene intake too. A study by Newcastle University showed that this phytonutrient, found in red fruit and veg (and, helpfully for pizza lovers, in tomato paste), can help bolster the skin’s natural protection against sun damage – proof, if proof were needed, that looking good on the outside really does start on the inside.

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