Cracking the code for skin that makes everyone want your beauty secrets can be like going down a rabbit hole without a map. My personal journey began at 16 and the course of action continually changes over the years. What’s the secret to beautiful skin? It’s simple. Figuring out what our skin needs to thrive throughout each unique phase of life and modifying our approach in response.
Beautiful Skin 101:
It’s important to know that cells communicate by sending and receiving signals. Signals can come from the environment or from other cells. To trigger a response these signals must be transmitted across cell membranes or via cell receptors. If our skin isn’t healthy, communication between cells is disrupted and our skin will be susceptible to rapid aging and issues such as acne, redness, pigmentation, wrinkling and volume loss.
So what is "healthy skin" and how do we get it? First, we must know the criteria in which perfect skin is judged. According to medical experts, optimal skin health reflects the following 5 characteristics.
1. Healthy Barrier Function. When the outer layer of our skin (epidermis) is a good balance of hydration, lipids and healthy bacteria, we will have good immunity with controlled inflammatory response. This balance helps protect us from environmental toxins, harmful bacteria and viruses that could otherwise damage our skin health if able to penetrate to deeper layers.
2. Flexibility and Strength. When the inner layer of skin (dermis) has sturdy cell to cell adhesion, this provides flexibility and strength to the epidermis as well as to offer UV protection.
3. Even Color. Well functioning melanocytes that produce and distribute melanin evenly and uniformly promote an even complexion.
4. Good Circulation. Fine micro-capillary placement provides good circulation and blood flow. In addition to wound repair, these tiny blood vessels act as our skin's "food supply" ensuring that necessary nutrients, oxygen and hormones can move freely throughout the skin as well as properly eliminate waste.
5. Hydration and “Bounceback”. If you pinch your skin, the time it takes to return to normal is called "skin turgor". Good resilience
depends on adequate hydration, collagen and elastin fibers. Hydration is controlled by many factors but can be characterized by the rate at which water evaporates through the skin into the air, a process called TEWL (Trans-epidermal Water Loss). This is very important because the better your skin is able to retain its moisture, the better it is able to support ALL cellular functions including nutrient transport, waste removal and communication.
If you’re visualizing an air brushed model on the cover of W, don’t fret. Each and every one of us has the ability to have skin that radiates health and ages gracefully. It’s just about knowing what to do and being committed to taking the necessary steps and precautions. (I never said it was going to be easy).
Beautiful Skin 201:
Although genetics play a big role in what kind of skin we end up with, there are many “controllable” factors that both positively and negatively influence the health and appearance of our skin. After all, most of us haven’t been born with Jennifer Lawrence genes. But we ALL have the power to preserve and promote our skin's health through diet, lifestyle and proper care.
1. Chronic Inflammation. By now, it's old news that UVA & UVB rays, smoking, and environmental toxins cause oxidative stress that wreak havoc in our bodies and damage our skin. In fact, it’s impossible to avoid free radical damage as it's a natural process of cell death and renewal. However, constant activation of our immune system rapidly depletes reserves of collagen, elastin, vitamins and minerals. To win the war against oxidation, we must be proactive.
Arm Your Cells with Big Guns:
Diligently wear sunscreen when outdoors
Use antioxidants topically everyday, such as: Vital Assist C Lift,
PCA C & E Strength and Osmosis Replenish
Avoid using highly “chemicalized” skincare products and cosmetics
Avoid eating processed and refined foods
Eat lots of leafy greens and fruits such as berries, cherries, plums and mangoes.
2. Healthy Skin Flora. When excess sebum builds up and clogs hair follicles, a breeding ground is created for harmful bacteria, namely a strain called Propionibacterium Acnes. Once these intruders start to colonize a clogged pore, the growing pressure can burst the follicle wall and leak into nearby tissues creating red, swollen pimples. Fortunately, we also have strains of friendly bacteria that inhibit the growth of P. Acnes bacteria and prevent it from invading our skin cells and causing damage. Trying to eradicate acne by over-washing, disinfecting and scrubbing with harsh products will kill the bad bacteria but much like using antibiotics to wipe out the bad bacteria in our body, you end up destroying much more than that. A skin care routine containing both purifying and nourishing products will be your best defense against harmful bacteria, viruses and toxins.
Top Picks for Gentle Bacteria Control:
PCA BPO Cleanser
PCA Blemish Control Bar
PCA Intensive Clarity Treatment
Blue LED light (Uses light energy to seek and destroy P Acnes Bacteria on contact.)
3. Balanced Hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout the body regulating many of our internal processes such as metabolism, immune function and fertility. They can even alter our emotions and behaviors. To work properly, hormones require such a delicate balance with one another, even a small disharmony can cause major health problems and have visible effects on our skin, hair and nails. Estrogen, in particular, is essential for youthful skin. When we have too much, we start to see symptoms like acne, dehydration, facial hair, brittle nails, hair that is dull, dry or thinning, and unexplained weight gain.
Create Harmonious Hormones:
Since the liver detoxifies our bodies of excess estrogen, it's important to have a diet rich in organic high-fiber foods like avocados, berries, artichokes, okra, brussel sprouts, beans, quinoa, flax and chia seeds so excess estrogen and other toxins can be released through the intestines
Use glassware and eat organic foods to avoid xenoestrogens found in plastic, aluminum, pesticides and chemicals found in non-organic produce. These compounds mimic estrogen and disrupt the communication of hormones and cells
Avoid using skincare products with phthalates which disrupt the balance of estrogens in the body
Avoid foods like soy, peanuts, highly processed carbs, dairy and beef as these contain naturally occurring and synthetic estrogens
Supplement with probiotics, Vitamin D3 ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms, rhodiola and holy basil to help balance the hormones naturally.
4. Healthy Lymphatic System. A weak lymphatic system means that metabolic wastes stay in your body longer than they should and your immune system can’t fight the acne infection effectively – resulting in pimples and red marks that seem to take forever to go away.
How to Boost a Sluggish Lymphatic System:
Avoid mucus forming foods like dairy, processed foods and saturated fats
Drink plenty of water
Eat foods high in vitamin C and essential minerals such as green & red bell peppers, brocolli, spinach, oranges, strawberries, cashews, avacados and salmon
Take supplements such as Vitamin C, Zinc, B Vitamins
Get a massage
Alternate hot and cold showers
5. Healthy Circulation and Blood Flow. Our blood carries all life giving nutrients from our food to our cells. If you're circulation isn't working well, the cells will be deprived of essential oxygen and nutrition, and metabolic waste will build rapidly creating a cascade of issues and rapid aging.
Support Healthy Blood Flow and Strengthen Lining of Capillary Walls:
Use products with ingredients such as Willow Bark, Niacinamide and Vitamin C help strengthen capillaries and repair damage. My absolute favorite is Osmosis AC-11 DNA Repair.
Yoga poses that help get blood to the face (Inversions, downward dog, rabbit)
Use a Whole Body Vibration Machine regularly. Rythmic muscle contractions encourage blood circulations throughout the entire body, increasing the amount of functional red blood cells. During your "workout" even the smallest of capillaries will be enlarged improving blood flow and boost removal of metabolic wastes.
Keep hydrated. Dehydration can weaken capillary walls. Try adding Chlorophyll to detoxify and build red blood cells
Eat organic anti-oxidant rich foods such as berries, dark chocolate, garlic, green tea, olive oil, ginkgo biloba, ginger, tumeric, & cayenne pepper
Supplements such as fish oil, magnesium, silica, & vitamin C.
6. Proper Use of Quality Ingredients. Choosing the right skincare is one of the most important things we can do for our skin. Using products with unsafe ingredients irritate the skin, accelerate aging and create chronic redness and dryness. Like our bodies, our skin needs vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins. There are many ingredients that feed our skin with essential nutrients and boost cellular activities.
Essential Topical Ingredients:
Stem Cells and Growth Factors
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
1,3 Beta Glucan (Fiber)
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)
7. Skincare Treatments to Optimize Skin Functions
Last but not least, call in a professional (like moi) to help boost your skin's natural performance mechanisms, help with detoxification, increase and improve blood flow and nutrient penetration to the deeper layers of skin where it needs it. The best treatments to deliver results:
Just remember, healthy skin should efficiently maintain itself when provided good cell nutrition. Although what our skin needs at any given point in our lives will fluctuate, using high quality products, drinking enough water, getting plenty of rest, eating a clean and healthy diet will always be key players.
"The Concise Guide To Dermal Needling" by Dr. Lance Setterfield MD.
"Transform Your Skin Naturally" by Dr Ben Johnson
"Advanced Skin Analysis" by Florence Barret Hill
"Living Beauty" by Lisa Petty