The Difference Between Healthy & Unhealthy Skin

The Components of Healthy Skin

Woman with beautiful skin
Mae Small/Stocksy United

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

Here are four components of healthy skin.

1. Even Color

Consistent color is a sign of youthful, healthy skin. Studies have shown that consistent, even skin tone is actually a key element of attractiveness. As a matter of fact, the consistency of skin color is considered more attractive than having a certain skin color. Unfortunately, even skin tone starts to fade with age, as accumulated sun damage starts to take hold on the skin and create 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 eight glasses of water a day. Drinking water is vital for good health, but you definitely don't need to be drinking eight glasses of the stuff a day.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should try to drink at least 65 fluid ounces of water a day. This will keep your entire body, not just your skin, in great condition.

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.

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:

  • itching
  • burning
  • stinging
  • pulling
  • tightness

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