Right at the very start of my career, I specialised in natural skincare and the products and lifestyle factors that influences the health of our skin. In line with my holistic training and outlook, the health and appearance of our skin can never be solely as a consequence of what latest products we put onto it – although choosing the right ones are of optimum importance. Instead, our skin reflects both our health on the inside and our choice of daily face and body products.
Over the next 3 weeks, I’m going to share my overall suggestions for looking after your skin naturally, to maximise its appearance and function. Today, we are looking at the functions of the skin and why it is so important to look after it. Later we will cover how to enhance the health and appearance of your skin from the outside and the inside! In further blogs, I will provide my tips for looking after specific problem skin conditions.
Why it is Important to Look After Your Skin
Skincare is mostly seen as a vain and aesthetic practice, purely for the benefit of appearance. This is important of course, as a radiant glow certainly boosts our confidence and makes us feel good, thus enhancing wellbeing. But did you know that the skin is our largest detox organ? It provides vital functions for our body and is certainly more than our outer covering to look good to the world!
The skin’s functions fall into the following categories:
Millions of nerve endings within the skin allow us to detect pain, pressure, heat and cold. This serves as a protection from injury or damage to the skin or body.
Body temperature can be regulated by sweat produced by glands in the skin to cool the body. When the body gets cold, small muscles attached to hair follicles within the skin contract, causing our hairs to stand up and trap heat.
There are thousands of pores on the skin’s surface that are able to absorb nutrients such as water, oxygen and vitamins. These provide nourishment and moisture to the skin.
The skin provides a physical barrier against harmful toxins and pollutants. It also has a complex porous system to allow certain substances in, while keeping others out. The ‘acid mantle’ is the delicate protective barrier on the skin’s surface. This is easily damaged by harsh products, artificial chemicals and extreme temperatures, thereby reducing the important functions of the skin.
In addition, there are immune cells within the skin to prevent against infections. Other cells produce melanin when exposed to the sun, to protect against damage.
This is the important one I have previously talked about, with regard to the detoxification system. Toxins and waste products are produced as a natural consequence of metabolism or are taken in from the external environment. The body has pores on the skin’s surface and many sweat glands, through which toxins can be released.
The skin has glands that secrete sebum. This is an oily substance needed to keep the skin soft and supple. Sebum makes up the protective acid mantle with a pH of approximately 4.5-5. Studies have shown a pH of less than 5.0 is much more healthy and able to hold on to beneficial bacteria than a pH of greater than 5.0 (more alkaline)¹.
Again, the pH balance and the protective acid mantle is easily damaged by the majority of commercial skincare brands with cheap artificial ingredients. This results in a compromised ability to fight infection, reduce inflammation and aid healing (particularly relevant with regard to skin conditions such as eczema).
Want to try Natural Products?
Many of the products you will see in my treatment room are from Neal’s Yard Remedies.
1. Lambers H, Piessens S, Bloem A, Pronk H, Finkel P. (2006). Natural Skin Surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18489300