November is National Healthy Skin Month
November is a fabulous month for so many reasons. From the amazing fall foliage and shift to the anticipation of the holiday season, it’s a great time of year. Now, we have a new reason to love November, it is National Healthy Skin Month!
The skin is a sorely underappreciated organ, which we tend to take for granted. Yes, I said organ. The skin is an organ, just like our heart, brain and liver. The dermis or skin plays a huge role in our overall health. It is our first line of immune defense, protecting our bodies from environmental exposure while maintaining moisture balance. Taking good care of our skin not only helps us to look better, but it promotes overall wellness.
Achieving healthy, glowing skin involves a multi-pronged approach which focuses on protection, nutrition and renewal.
There are two big ways to protect your skin. UV radiation from the sun is the number one most harmful exposure for our skin. Wearing sunscreen (preferably a chemical-free mineral one) and protecting the skin from the sun is the easiest thing you can do. A great visual example can be found in the face of the truck driver pictured below. For 28 years, this man drove his rig with the left side of his face exposed and unprotected against the sun. It is easy to see the uneven aging pattern and extensive damage he received. (1) This photo speaks volumes to the effects of UV radiation on our skin.
Another way we damage our skin and our overall health is through the toxins that we are exposed to and deliberately apply to our skin. The Environmental Working Group is an organization that maintains the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. EWG’s Skin Deep database is an online safety guide for cosmetics and personal care products. Launched in 2004 this database helps people find safer products, with fewer ingredients that are hazardous or that haven’t been thoroughly tested. Skin Deep combines product ingredient lists with information in more than 50 standard toxicity and regulatory databases. The database provides easy-to-navigate safety ratings for tens of thousands of personal care products. (2) The average person applies 12 personal care products to their skin every single day. Even if a single product contains only a small amount of a potentially harmful chemical, the small stuff adds up. At 12 products per day 365 days per year; it becomes necessary to choose products that contain safe ingredients. That’s our goal with the dmSkincare line, which is a botanically based, natural skincare line which is paraben-, phthalate-, sulfate-, gluten- , and petroleum-free. dmSkincare products do not contain harmful chemicals, preservatives, artificial fragrances or dyes. Why take chances with your skin, when there are clean products available and resources to help you sort out the good from the bad.
There is much that can be done to nourish our skin from the inside out. I will offer this simple advice. First, Eat Real Food. Meaning, unprocessed food that looks very similar to the way it came from the earth. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and fish, and organic meats and dairy. We have all heard the recommendation to “eat a rainbow for good health”, right? Well, that’s some pretty good advice. The colors in our plant foods all contain very different and specific compounds that help keep us healthy. By eating a variety of colorful fruits and veggies every day you cover all your bases. Aim for 5 to 7 servings for good health, and more for fabulous health!
Many people don’t realize that our skin is alive with beneficial bacteria. The bacteria are similar to what is found in our gut or digestive system. My second piece of advice would be to realize some Bacteria Can Be Good. These skin micro biota serve a vitally important role and act in an anti-biotic manner where they prevent the adherence of harmful bacteria to the skin while enhancing immune function. Just as the use of pharmaceutical antibiotics can cause GI issues when we take them to treat infections, the same applies to the skin. When we strip away our healthy skin bacteria we open the door for bad bacteria to settle in. Additionally, when we are experiencing some sort of internal inflammation or GI disturbance we see the signs on our skin in the form of rashes and redness. These two complex microbiomes are related and communicate with each other. Making sure to feed our beneficial skin and gut bacteria by eating probiotic-rich foods and supplements along with fiber rich foods, while avoiding excess sugar in the diet will help ensure that the good strains thrive. Recent research is also pointing to the benefits of topical probiotics to reduce skin inflammation and inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. Our vitA-clear serum contains lactobacillus ferment, a probiotic which has been shown in research to reduce inflammation and bacteria on the skin. Application of a topical probiotic, combined with oral ingestion through diet or supplementation is a great way to ensure that you are nourishing your skin flora to keep a good balance.
Lastly, a great way we can ensure skin health is to Encourage New Skin Cell Formation. Skin renewal comes from both external stimulation and internal nutrition. In order to promote a healthy glow, regular gentle exfoliation is necessary. This can be achieved through mechanical means like microdermabrasion, exfoliating scrubs, or with enzymatic exfoliation using fruit extracts like bromelain and papain. Vitamin A in the form of the various retinol ingredients is another way to stimulate external skin cell turnover too, and should be a part of a nightly skincare regimen. Care should be taken not to over exfoliate which can stimulate extra sebum production or cause redness and irritation. New skin cells begin on the inside though, in the hypodermis – the bottommost layer of the skin. It is here that neo-collagen is stimulated. Baby skin cells receive nutrients like vitamin C, fats and water in this layer. Without internal nutrition we cannot grow new skin cells and renew the skin, so again diet is critically important to skin health.
During this Healthy Skin Month let’s pay some attention to our skin! This important organ deserves some extra tender love and care. You can do this by easting a healthy whole foods diet, protecting your skin from environmental exposures and encouraging healthy skin renewal. There’s no magic pill for healthy skin but the bonus to taking good care of your skin is the glow you will see in the mirror!
Written by Ginger Hodulik, MS, CNS & Vice President of DermaMed Solutions, LLC
Published by DermaMed Solutions