On this page:
- The Basics of Your Skin
- Common Skin Problems
- How to Keep your Skin Young and Healthy – a Guide
- The Ultimate Guide to Gentle Skin Care
The Basics of Your Skin
The skin is one of the 5 organs of the human body. It serves as a covering to enclose and protect the internals and skeleton. It is actually the largest organ of the body as well as an integumentary organ. The integumentary system comprises organs that protect the body from external harm or internal damage like loss of water and so on. It includes the hair and nails.
Your skin is way more than just the outer layer you see. It is actually made up of several parts and layers that help it function effectively. These are all the different skin layers:
Layers of the Skin
The skin is primarily made up of three layers: the Epidermis, the Dermis and the Hypodermis.
- The Epidermis — This is the outermost layer of the skin. It is thin and tough. It is the layer responsible for creating the skin tone and providing a waterproof barrier for the body. The outermost part of the epidermis, called stratum corneum, helps prevent bacteria, viruses and other harmful substances from penetrating the body.
- The Dermis — Just beneath the epidermis lies the dermis. It is made up of mostly collagen and some components of elastin. While collagen is an important protein that aids in youthful appearance, elastin gives structure to the skin and organs. These tough connective tissues also include sweat glands and hair follicles.
- The Hypodermis — This deeper layer is a fatty subcutaneous tissue. It is also known as the fatty layer. This is a major connective tissue. It is this layer that insulates the body from cold and heat, and helps to store energy. Depending on the part of the body this fat layer varies in thickness.
Between these 3 layers are various tissues, nerve cells, and glands that help to carry out all the functions the skin needs to perform. If you still don’t know why you should take care of your skin consider the amazing functions of this important organ.
Functions of the Skin
- Protection — One of the vital functions that your skin performs is to protect you from the elements and microbes. In the intense heat of the noonday sun it is the skin that protects other organs in your body from feeling its effects.
- Temperature Regulation — Another important function of the skin is to regulate the temperature of the body. This is made possible by blood vessels in the skin which react to hot weather by dilating, and conversely constricting when responding to cold.
- Sensation — Ever wondered how you feel heat and cold, and what makes it possible for you to feel touch? It is simple — your skin does. It has the sense of touch, as well as the ability to detect temperature. And, of course, send that information to the brain so that you know what is going on and how to react.
- Sweat Glands — Many people believe that sweat is waste that the body wants to get rid of — and that is true, but why it is produced in the first place? Sweat glands produce liquid to cool the body when it is hot or under stress. It has a function beyond merely being a waste product.
- Hair Production — The fatty layer of the skin known as the subcutaneous tissue is where hair follicles originate. Follicles are what produce every hair on your body with its root firmly held by this skin tissue.
- Vitamin D Synthesis — The Vitamin D formed in the skin (known as cholecalciferol) is the most useful type of D. It is produced when direct sunlight hits the skin. By acting on calcium and phosphorus it helps to build strong and dense bones. It also has many other health benefits.
Factors that Influence your Skin’s Health
The skin, like other organs and parts of the body, can only function when it is in good health. It is important for the skin to stay healthy so that it can continue to protect the body from harmful microbes and ultraviolet rays, regulate temperature, as well as produce the right skin color. The factors that determine how healthy your skin is can be external or internal.
• INTERNAL (ENDOGENOUS) FACTORS include:
Genetics — Apart from determining skin type, whether dry, oily, normal or combination, genetics also determines the biological aging of the skin. This can happen if there is a degeneration of connective tissues and elastic fibers. These tissues help to bind water and aid firmness while the elastic fibers aid skin elasticity. When they degenerate, the skin ages quickly.
Genetics can also help determine sebaceous and sweat gland secretions, as well as cell regeneration and renewal. If your genes aren’t working with you, you will have a hard time getting healthy skin. Genetics will also determine how predisposed your skin is to conditions such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (eczema).
Hormones — Hormonal changes and reactions often lead to several skin conditions. For instance, it has been found that acne occurs during puberty as a result of hormonal changes. Also, estrogen levels decline naturally in older women. This leads to skin aging or age-related skin atrophy because estrogen is important for skin moisture balance. This usually starts to decline as you approach menopause and continues afterward.
Pregnant women also experience hormonal changes. There is an increase in the production of melanin and a form of hyperpigmentation called melasma (read here).
• EXTERNAL FACTORS that affect skin health mostly result from the choices you make, your environment, and your health. They are:
Nutrition— A balanced diet is good skin therapy. Consider adopting a diet that consists of lots of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, omega oils and nuts, less fat, few milk products and few sweets. Don’t forget to make water your main beverage.
General Lifestyle — There are certain lifestyles you must embrace and some others you should avoid if you want radiant, smooth skin. Good sleep and regular exercise are good for your skin. You should also learn to manage stress and stop smoking.
Therapeutic Measures — Some of the therapies taken for treatment of cardiovascular conditions and other procedures such as dialysis and radiotherapy affect the skin. They increase the skin’s sensitivity and make it prone to dryness and other conditions.
Sunlight — I have already explained how direct impact with sunlight helps the skin generate Vitamin D. However, moderation is key with regard to sun exposure. Too much sun affects the skin’s health by way of sunburns, DNA damage, skin cancer, premature aging, melasma and sun allergies. All these are caused by a combination of UVA, UVB and HEV rays.
Temperature also plays a major external role in skin health. While the skin produces more sweat in hot weather to keep the skin moist and shiny, in cold weather it narrows the blood vessels to help store heat in the body. Dry skin conditions tend to be more prevalent in cold conditions, and acne is more common in hot conditions.
Washing too Often — While it is important to stay clean by washing it has been discovered that washing too frequently — especially with hot water — leads to loss of the skin’s natural lipids and moisturizers. This can affect the skin’s protective barrier and natural balance.
Unhealthy Skin Products — The cell structure, barrier function, and neutralizing ability of the skin can be greatly affected when aggressive skin products are used. The skin has a mild acidic content and a pH level of between 4.7 and 5.75. You should not overstretch it by applying products with even more alkaline pH.
Common Skin Problems
These are some of the skin conditions you might experience, and want to relieve or treat.
- Acne is very common, especially amongst adolescents. It is the result of plugged follicles caused by excessive production of oil by the sebaceous glands. It appears first as black or white heads and then becomes pimples, nodules or cysts. Acne should naturally go away with time but can leave scars when severe.
- Rashes are another very common skin condition. Rash is the name given to every slight change in the skin’s appearance. It could be a simple irritation or a symptom of a medical condition.
- Eczema is a skin inflammation that causes an itchy rash. It is a form of dermatitis, the most common type being atopic eczema.
- Psoriasis — Sometimes you can find a silver, scaly plaque appearing on your skin. This could be psoriasis. It is an autoimmune condition that can result in different kinds of skin rashes.
- Rosacea — This often expresses itself in swelling or facial redness. It is a condition common in adults with fair skin. It develops gradually and requires dermatological attention when full blown.
- Large Pores — It is through your pores that moisturizing oils are released to the skin. When they are too large they may be unattractive and can cause certain skin conditions.
- Warts — This is when the skin grows excessively as a result of viral infection.
- Herpes — This is another very common skin problem that causes periodic blisters or irritation on the lips or genitals. It includes HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses.
How to Keep your Skin Young and Healthy – a Guide
Now that you know some of the skin problems common with many people you should do what you can to avoid them. If you are not already, I suggest you stick to the following lifestyle changes:
Here are some foods you should eat for a healthy skin.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant which helps to improve the skin’s natural Sun Protection Factor (SPF).
- Oatmeal: By building insulin and increasing the production of androgens refined, sugary carbs cause an increased secretion of oil by the sebaceous glands which in turn cause pimples. Instead, eat oatmeal with chopped fruit for healthier skin.
- Olive Oil: The monounsaturated fatty acid content of olive oil combines with the antioxidant polyphenols to boost youthfulness and eliminate damaging free radicals.
- Green Tea: Catechins like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and antioxidants like polyphenols boost the flow of blood and oxygen to the skin leading to an elastic and smooth skin.
- Sardines: Sardines are fatty fish. They contain a kind of Omega-3 known as DHA. This fat reduces inflammation which is the root cause of acne. If you must eat meat, sardines are recommended.
- Dark Chocolate: The antioxidant properties present in cocoa flavanols, a major compound in dark chocolate, are perfect for improved circulation and skin hydration. But you should take it easy on this to avoid the weight gain.
- Water: The simple fact that water hydrates the skin is enough proof that it is good for the skin. Instead of sugary drinks that cause problems for your skin drink water that helps to keep it plump and smooth.
- Grass-fed Beef: Protein is the major producer of collagen and elastin tissue. Grass-fed beef combines this with omega-3 and omega-6 for anti-inflammation and a taut and wrinkle-free skin.
Other important foods you should consider are oysters, almond milk, orange peels, walnuts, and kale. All these combine to produce acids and tissues that make your skin stay healthy.
If you love smoothies, try the Glowing Green Smoothie, demonstrated here by Kimberly Snyder:
Supplements for Healthy Skin
Apart from foods, there are quite a number of supplements you should consider if you want your skin to have a natural glow. They are for example:
- Vitamin A strengthens and stimulates the dermis, the layer of skin that holds collagen, elastin and blood vessels. It increases blood flow and supports general skin health. It can be taken in oral or topical form. You can simply apply the cream on your skin or take the pill or tonic following the prescription.
- Vitamin C is a great immune booster and helps to fight against colds and other ailments. As a potent antioxidant one of its function is to protect skin cells from damage. It also aids the growth of new cells as well as repairs damaged ones.
- Vitamin E is another potent antioxidant available in cream or as a standalone supplement. It prevents skin damage and serves as an anti-aging therapy. If you’re going to use the topical cream find one that contains other antioxidants that will work with it.
- Omega 3 supplements are mainly found in fish oil form and packaged conveniently in capsules. People who have certain skin conditions will benefit a lot from its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Vitamin B Complex is a combination of 8 B Vitamins. Vitamins B3, B5 and B12 are great supporters of healthy skin. While B3 and B5 are excellent for helping the epidermis retain moisture, B12 helps regulate the production of pigment.
- Zinc — A big player in the body’s immune system, zinc also has some benefits for your skin. By helping to heal wounds and repair skin damage, as well as maintain the mucosal membrane, zinc supports the general health of the skin.
Other supplements that can help include calcium, selenium, and silica.
How Smoking Affects Your Skin
When we talk about the consequence of smoking we’re often focused only on the harm it does to internal organs like the lungs and the heart. But smoking also affects your skin’s health. Tobacco opens you up to infections, causes delayed wound healing and leads to premature aging. Other skin disorders include psoriasis, cutaneous lupus erythematosus, and hidradenitis suppurative.
The reason for this damage is that tobacco causes oxidative stress, which in turn leads to insufficient oxygen flowing to the skin. This reduction in oxidation causes several other problems like degraded collagen, and so on.
How to Stop Smoking
I will explain this in quick, easy steps. Though the process of quitting is not easy it can be done with dedication.
- Decide to quit. It may not be as easy as it sounds, but it’s a good first step.
- Know when you’re more prone to pick up a cigarette. Plan for those times and do something else.
- Stock up on substitutes such as gum, carrot sticks, straws, coffee stirrers or anything that will help your oral craving.
- Have a Quit Date. This serves as a goal and will push you to work towards it.
- Get friends and relatives involved. They will remind you and help you through the process.
- Take away everything that reminds you of smoking.
- Pay close attention to the first 2 weeks, as it is crucial to your success.
- Engage yourself and talk to yourself during the 15 minutes that the craving lasts.
- Stay busy.
- Avoid compromising situations.
- Set out plans to maintain and celebrate your successes.
- Manage your stress properly, so you don’t fall back on cigarettes.
Protecting your Skin from the Sun
The fact that the sun is a primary source of vitamin D doesn’t mean you have to go tanning all day — or even worse tanning all day without proper sunscreen. It can be challenging to stay away from the ultraviolet rays. For instance, your job might require you to move around or walk out in the sun. However, there are things you can do to protect your skin from its effect.
- Protect your back and arms from melanoma by using SPF.
- Your neck and chest are two areas that are often exposed to the sun. Cover the entire area with a sunscreen for maximum protection.
- Your legs are another major area of your skin that needs protection. Rub on a body lotion that contains SPF 15, and ensure you take it down to your feet.
- Don’t ever leave your face and eyes unprotected. Even if your makeup contains SPF, it won’t be strong enough to protect you from carcinoma. Use a sunscreen instead. Anti-UV sunglasses are your best bet for your eyes.
- Your scalp and ears also require protection because they’re susceptible to cancer. Dip a cotton swab or use a sunscreen stick to apply SPF on the areas on and around your ears and scalp.
- Your lips are very sensitive— use a SPF 30 lip balm or matte lipstick.
If you do get a sunburn, here are 10 simple ways to get rid of it overnight, by former lifeguard Summer Saldana:
Food and Supplements for Sun Protection
Recently the trend is shifting towards protecting the skin from the sun from the inside out. Foods and supplements that protect the skin against sun damage include:
- Antioxidants protect against inflammation and free radicals. They are present in dark chocolates, green tea, vegetables, and so on.
- Saturated and Monounsaturated Fats also reduce inflammation and promote skin wellness. They are present in fish, and leafy greens among other things.
- Vitamin D Supplements so you don’t have to expose yourself to sun for hours. This will help produce the melanin your skin needs.
Other supplements include Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 drops (2 drops per day should give you enough protection), Astaxanthin (a potent antioxidant that can act as an internal sunscreen), and krill oil.
The Ultimate Guide to Gentle Skin Care
So now that you have an idea which lifestyle changes might help in improving your skin, here are guidelines for an optimal skin care routine.
The first thing to know is to avoid skin products that contain any artificial or chemical ingredients. These ingredients often contain toxins that do more harm to the skin. The best way to go is to embrace natural skin care products that will help your skin become as naturally healthy as possible.
You might want to consult a holistic esthetician, for advice on the right products for you. However, there are also many products you can create yourself.
Some of these ingredients are already in your kitchen. You probably even cook with them. They are natural and unprocessed and can do wonders for your skin.
- Coconut Oil is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidant and has healthy fats that strengthen your epidermal tissues, remove dead skin cells, boost immune function, and wash toxins away to aid the overall health of your skin.
- Apple Cider Vinegar helps to kill pathogens, clear acne and other skin problems, as well as treating ulcerations and skin sores. It also contains potassium and magnesium and boosts the skin’s function from the inside.
- Raw honey has many benefits. It is a great natural source of skin boosting acids, enzymes, and vitamins. It cleanses and moisturizes, fights allergies and rashes, reduces scars, and has antiseptic and wound-healing properties.
- Avocado contains Vitamins A, D, and E. It is a moisturizing fatty fruit that helps to treat age spots, boost collagen production, and cure sunburns. You can prepare a homemade avocado face mask by adding a mix of honey and essential oils. This will help your skin stay hydrated and eliminate age spots.
- Taking aloe vera orally can work wonders for your skin and internal organs. It is a fungal and bacterial fighting plant that heals the skin of inflammation, redness, and itching. The gel found in the leaf and the latex obtained from the basal cells of the leaf’s skin are two powerful substances that contain everything you need to have healthy skin.
- By mixing shea butter with essential oils like eucalyptus and/or frankincense to make homemade shea butter you produce one of the most effective skin care treatment therapies. It is excellent for dry skin and reduces flakes and eliminates redness and sunburns.
- There are several other natural ingredients that can used as oral therapies including almond oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, sea salt, lemon essential oil, argan oil, and so on.
Here are some great examples of all the beauty products you can create with coconut oil:
Here are some other amazing skin treatments and therapies:
1. Face Massage
Facial massage is one anti-aging therapy that is often overlooked often because people do not want to add yet another thing to their schedule. However, if you understand the benefits, you’ll want to incorporate it into your beauty routine.
Facial massage helps to relax the facial muscles the same way a body massage relaxes muscles in your body. The benefits are:
- Increase in the circulation of blood and oxygen.
- It helps your facial products absorb better.
- It helps to relax facial muscles and relieve tension.
- It is anti-aging and will help you look younger.
- Naturally leads to a facelift.
A good example of a facial massage is the Tanaka Face Massage as shown in this video:
2. Facial Exercises
Facial exercise is another major face lifting procedure you should embrace. It helps your facial skin and muscles stay firm and resist the pull of gravity for a longer time.
This is a very popular type of exercise for the face. A face yoga workout does wonders equal to other natural ingredients and supplements. It is non-invasive, but has been shown to be a great way to prevent wrinkles, eliminate sagging, and banish fine lines.
Facial yoga works on the three layers of the face, resulting in better circulation for nourished skin cells. A 15-20 minutes facial yoga for 6 days every week will also enhance collagen and elastin production in the dermis for a smooth, supple and tighter-looking skin.
Different methods include the Smile Smoother, the V, the Flirty Eyes, the Giraffe, and the Brow Smoother. You can watch this demonstration for practical steps on how this is done:
3. Treat Yourself to Professional Skin Therapy
Whether it is a facial treatment or for other parts of your body seeking professional help will sometimes become necessary. Identify what your face needs before you embark on any kind of esthetic therapy. There are quite a number of treatments you can have depending on your facial needs.
This is a professional way of getting rid of accumulated dead skin due to age and exposure to the sun. Using micronized crystals a pressurized jet scours the skin and then sucks the dead skin away. Be sure to get the device adjusted to fit your skin type. Be aware though that your skin will get a little rosy and flushed afterward, so don’t do this on a day you have an event.
Lymphatic Facial Massage
This is done by identifying targeted points on the face and kneading them to release tension and help you relax better. Puffiness can also be reduced temporarily using this method.
Using LED light specific wavelengths are used to reduce skin inflammation and breakouts. It is suitable for people with acne-prone skin. Depending on your skin’s condition it might require just one session to see results though it is not uncommon to need more than three appointments.
About 30 needles are inserted 1 mm deep into different areas of your face in accordance with long-standing Chinese medicine practice. They are taken out after 15 minutes, and the result is a radiant, elegant-looking skin.
Masks and products rich in humectant are perfect for moisturizing the face. This therapy helps to provide a soft and plumped skin and is great for dealing with issues that lotions can’t handle.
Firming and Contouring Facial
This facial requires the use of microcurrent devices. Although it comes with some mild side effects this therapy is great for tightening skin muscles and creating firm skin. It can be quite intense so look into it in more detail before making an appointment.
And last but not least, know this:
Your skin is, just like you, unique. Its present condition results from your genetic makeup, lifestyle habits and many other internal and external factors. If you don’t take care of yourself your skin reflects that. And… if you don’t take care of your skin it affects your overall health.
We hope this guide has made the journey to perfect, smooth and healthy skin a whole lot easier. And if you still have questions or feedback, feel free to contact us. We love to help!