Do you understand your skin? Why it feels the way it does? Why it has breakouts, redness, pigmentation & signs of aging? If you don’t, that’s perfectly fine! But when you start to learn about some skin fundamentals, plus how and why it functions and you begin to incorporate this new found knowledge into your daily routines, you’ll notice that your skin will change rapidly to do what it does best, and to look it’s best. So, let’s start breaking down all things skin, so that you can give yours the best of what it needs, no matter what moment it’s experiencing.
I’m sure most of you are aware that the skin is the largest organ in the human body. Therefore, everything that comes in, out and that is around our body is having an impact on the skin, and (most importantly) under the skin. So, here is a simple break-down of how the skin works, and a few key ingredients that would benefit your skin – no matter what your skin ‘type’. Of course, the skin is a very complex topic to tackle, so this overview will be focusing on the elements that you would be familiar with, plus a little extra without going into too much science.
The Epidermis is a thin, protective layer of cells that contain no blood vessels and consists of five layers of cells with no divisions between them. Without going into the hardcore science of it all, the ones you would be familiar with are the Stratum Corneum, which is the skin we can see, and the Stratum Lucidum which is only found on the soles of hands and feet. The Epidermis is designed to provide protection to the deeper layers and functionality of the skin and is responsible for the appearance, colour and texture that we can see and feel.
Is the most important element to understand. Why? Well because it supports the Epidermis and consists of a complex network that without care (through diet, protection, nutrients) will degrade rapidly. The Dermis consists of a complex network of loose connective tissue, blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerve endings. Some key elements of the Epidermis are your Fibroblasts (responsible for the production of collagen – and more!) and then Collagen and Elastin; the proteins responsible for elasticity, tone and texture.
FUNCTIONS OF THE SKIN
Some of the key functions of the skin are to protect (from both intrinsic and extrinsic ageing factors), retain fluid/avoid fluid loss and thermoregulate. The general public has been educated to treat surface issues such as wrinkles and other visual imperfections of skin conditions. However it is important to realise that if the dermal tissue isn’t healthy, than no matter what we do on the surface of the skin (epidermis) the skin itself will not be functional at its best. Each cell has a turn over period, and as we age this turnover period slows, just as when we are younger it is at a quicker pace. Think of it like you do metabolism with your body. The expectancy is that for each cell that is near its ending cell turnover period, we want to ensure that the cells coming up (to replace those that are finishing their journey) are plump and healthy. To aid in the quest for healthy optimal skin, there are a few key ingredients that you can add to your daily routine to boost the functionality of the skin.
KEY INGREDIENTS TO NOURISH YOUR SKIN
Is essential for the synthesis of collagen. Is an excellent antioxidant (free radical scavenger) and aids in disruption of melanin synthesis in melanocytes, reducing pigmentation. A well formulated and potent vitamin C is clinically proven to have great anti-ageing benefits. And here is a fun fact: the human body cannot store Vitamin C, so if you are using one, please ensure that you are using a highly formulated serum to ensure that the benefits are reaching the dermis to be used by the skin, and not sitting on the surface of the skin which in turn will actually cause over sensitivity (redness) or give the look of blackheads – remembering that Vit C can’t be retained in the skin, so if it’s not delivered properly then it will be oxidised and sit on the skin.
Backs up Vitamin C in the skin and body. It has the ability to rapidly scavenge radicals thereby terminating the chain reaction that is damaging cell membranes.
Also commonly referred to as Retinol, (which is a pure source of Vitamin A) stimulates skin fibroblasts to increase collagen and elastin production. It exfoliates the skin through stimulation of cellular renewal, and as with Vitamin C, a potent and well formulated Vitamin A is clinically proven to have anti-ageing benefits. However, yes it’s important to have a vitamin A (or Retinol) in the skin, but you must be careful and use appropriately (as directed by your Dermal Therapist) as over use can lead to over sensitised skin, thinning skin and skin that is extremely sensitive to pigment through sun damage.
Fun Fact: The highest dosage of vitamin a that is allowed over the counter in Australia (through beauty clinics for example) is 1%, anything higher than that is required to have a prescription from a doctor. A dosage higher than 1% seems like nothing, however when you’re playing on this level with skin, it’s actually very strong and harmful on the skin if used inappropriately. When playing with Vitamin A, it’s good to understand that a fine balance and that “too much of a good thing” can be true with this ingredient. Don’t be scared off however, as it is amazingly complementary on most skin types, as long as it is respected and used as directed – we don’t want you to be over enthusiastic and end up with peeling/shedding/redness. Best to always work with your application using the guide of once a week to begin with and work up from there depending on how your skin takes it in. It’s also an ingredient that must be used in the evening.
*NOTE – Vitamin A and Retinols must not be used while pregnant, breastfeeding, IVF
Hyaluronic Acid … My favourite!
A very commonly used ingredient is most skincare ranges and treatments due to its incredible ability to deliver and retain hydration within the skin. Hyaluronic Acid is a molecule that holds 1000 times in weight in water! It aids in boosting the plumpness of the skin, as well as re-establishing the skins natural hydro-balance for an improved skin texture, suppleness and luminosity. If you walk away with nothing else from this article, please take this ingredient and add it to your routine! You will be SO amazed and happy that you did.
My favourite is the Medik8 Hydra B5 serum!
I hope this all helps in your quest for you beautiful, healthy and optimal functional skin. The biggest issues to be aware of is how you treat your body, and therefore your skin. Factors such as your extrinsic influences that bring about oxidative damage like sun damage and UV over exposure, tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs & a high sugar based diet, plus your general lifestyle – hello stress! – these all add up and over time take a damaging toll on our body and how much harder it has to work to keep it in tip, top shape & give us the youthful radiance we are all so desperately seeking. These factors usually assist in obtaining the results of fine wrinkles, thinning of the skin prematurely, laxity, photoaging, pigmentation, break-outs and lack lustre skin.
Of course, when we talk about all of these factors, there are some that aren’t just as simple as declining that extra glass of vino or block of chocolate. These come down to what are generally your intrinsic factors. So your general ageing process, hormonal activity are just a few elements that also have some influence on what presents externally on our epidermis.If you are interested in learning more about your skin functionality, and how and why your skin is the way that it is or you’re keen to start treating it and feeding it what it needs to give you a gorgeous glow, then I really do recommend that you visit a skin clinic and chat with the team there to get on track with a skin management plan. They’d love (LOVE!) to see you, and I know that whoever and wherever they are they’ll be sure to put you on the right path to your best skin.