Your Best Face!
• What Do You Know About Your Skin?
• What Factors Cause Premature Aging?
• What Makes A Perfect Moisturizer?
• Why Buy Your Skin Care At The Natural Products Store?
Find Out How To ‘Save Face’…. Look Inside.
TOPIC: NATURAL SKIN CARE
Why do men’s faces age more slowly than women’s?
First, men’s testosterone stimulates the sebaceous glands to secrete more oil than women secrete, keeping the skin more supple and helping to retain moisture.
Then, daily shaving doubles as a massage. This stimulates blood circulation to the face and neck, bringing oxygen and nutrients as it tones the tissues and muscles.
Last, men’s skin is usually thicker and sometimes darker so is less vulnerable to sun.
Together, these three factors result in men’s skin aging about ten years more slowly than women’s.
Your Best Face!
Understanding the nature of the skin, knowing the principles of skin care, and using natural health care products can contribute greatly to our skin’s ability to remain attractive and to serve us well throughout our lives.
By following science and using both new and ancient technology, natural skin care formulations have arrived. They are truly 21st products.
For this issue of Nutrition News, we reviewed ten skin care lines found in natural product stores. We talk about the basics of skin; of skin damage; of skin care; of sun protection; and the value of pure facial products.
Skin Care Skin Deep
Most of us think of our skin as – well – our skin, a protective covering, even a container, for our important innards.
However, the skin itself is an organ, the largest organ of the body. Three thousand square inches of skin cover an average adult, and comprise about 15 percent of the body’s total weight.
From birth, this wondrous covering protects us from disease and injury. It mirrors our internal states, both physical and emotional. And, its appearance can be a reflection of our lifestyle.
Although our skins are as individual as our fingerprints, their structure and functions don’t vary. The skin is composed of many strata. These are divided into the outer layer, the epidermis, and the layer beneath it, the dermis.
What we call our “skin” is actually a veneer of dead epidermal cells about 20 layers deep. As the living cells are produced and work their way up to the surface, they become keratinized. Keratin is a form of protein. The tiny keratin scales provide a durable, protective barrier for the lower strata.
Each day as new cells come to the surface, we shed millions of keratinized cells. The life cycle of a skin cell is about 27 days. Most of the cell replacement process happens while we sleep. This remarkable process of renewal varies based on wear. For example, the skin on the palms of the hands is renewed every 24 hours.
The epidermis contains no blood vessels but is dependent upon the small capillaries in the dermis for its supply of water and nourishment.
Besides the capillaries, the dermis contains the roots of the hair, the sweat glands, the sebaceous glands, nerve endings, lymph glands, and fat globules.
Spread over the body, the fat globules make up our insulating subcutaneous fat layer. This does more than provide a protective cushion and a reserve of calories. It helps determine the thickness of our skin which can vary from about 1/50 of an inch (the eyelids) to as much as ½ inch (on our backs).
The protein fibers collagen and elastin are also found in the dermis. These fibers bring smoothness, firmness, strength, and elasticity to our skin.
To help these stay supple, they are bathed with amino acid/sugar complexes called mucopolysaccharides. When we marvel at the softness of a baby’s skin, we are witnessing the optimum function of the collagen, elastin, and mucopolysaccharide combination.
A final component of the dermis is melanin. (Not to be confused with the hormone melatonin, the words share the Greek root for black or dark, mela-, as in melancholy.)
Melanin is a black pigment which is common to all forms of animal life. It accounts for dark hair, skin, feathers, scales, etc. Melanin is made by cells called melanocytes and secreted into the lower layers of the epidermis and hair follicles. The larger and more productive the melanocytes, the darker our skin and hair.
The skin also regulates our temperature. It retains our body heat and cools us down by means of sweat glands when signaled by either external or internal temperature. (For example, exercise can raise our internal temperature as much as seven degrees.)
Our skin can also display our emotional temperature by blushing, turning red with anger, pale with fright, or wet with anxiety. On the other hand, our physical well-being is registered with a healthy glow.
What DamAges The Skin?
We’ve been schooled to respond “the sun” or “sun tanning”. And experts agree: To have smooth, firm skin throughout our lives, we’ve got to monitor sun exposure.
However, according to Life Extension, too much sun is just one of many factors that can damage our skin and cause premature skin aging. In no particular order, these are:
• Excess sun exposure – aging effects and possibly skin cancer.
• Consistent inadequate sleep – Since the skin renews at night….
• Hypothyroidism – An underactive thyroid can cause dry, flaky skin.
• Insufficient amounts of essential fatty acids, such as omega oils – dry skin.
• Diet low in fresh plant foods – can accelerate free radical damage.
• Breakdown of skin structure – can even be initiated by frowning or laughing, causing wrinkles.
• Dryness – promotes fine lines, weakens skin cells, can cause fats (lipids) in the skin’s fatty layer to crystalize, causing dull, dry, flaking skin.
• Stress – causes skin cells to appear tired.
• Free radicals – cause damage to skin cell structure, resulting in lines and wrinkles.
• Inflammation – causes puffiness, blemishes, and pigmented lesions.
• High blood sugar – (“elevated glucose levels”) causes glycation. This is the process in which sugar and amino acids in collagen adhere to each other, interfering with collagen regeneration, promoting wrinkles, sagging, and that crepy chicken skin look.
• Toxins – environmental pollutants damage skin.
• Clogged pores – can hold bacteria, causing infections, inflammation, blemishes, and scaly skin.
• Delayed shedding – old skin cells stay in place, causing skin to have a rough or dull appearance.
• Faulty delivery system – some skin products sit on surface, over saturate, and cause limited nutrient effect, inflammation, and clogged pores.
• Gravity – along with aging and other factors, results in sagging.
• Aging – associated with a slow down of collagen renewal, results in damaged and wrinkled skin.
• Sodium lauryl sulfate – not found in any of the natural skin care products we researched. Not an uncommon ingredient in drug and department store beauty products, it strips the skin of natural moisture.
Other additives you won’t see on natural product labels are: PEG (30 dipolydrydroxystearate) and other synthetic polymers; mineral oil, clogs pores, dissolves natural oils; DEA and TEA (di- and tri-ethanolamine) used as emulsifiers and foaming agents, can irritate the eyes and dry out skin and hair; methyl- and poly-paraben, estrogen mimics used to extend shelf life; diazolidinyl urea, a preservative that can cause contact dermatitis.
Skin Care Feed Your Face
Many health conscious consumers consistently shop for the freshest, purest foods on the market for themselves and their families. You know who you are. You often pay a premium to bring organic produce, dairy, soy, and other products to the table.
You may even go out of your way to purchase the best. You do this because you know that fresh food is the healthiest food. This makes you healthy. And, good health leads to a more radiant complexion.
Like the rest of your body, your skin is constantly renewing itself. You feed it from the inside, and yet industry surveys show that when it comes to personal care products, many of you are not as selective.
Yes, it’s true. Industry spies have seen you buying sale cleansers, moisturizers, and lotions at drug and outlet stores. Plus, some of you are paying the big bucks for name brand cosmetics which are loaded with chemicals and often contain only a small fraction of the natural ingredients that are de rigueur in natural body care products.1
When you know good nutrition plays such an important role in skin care and you know that your skin absorbs much of whatever touches it, why wouldn’t you choose to nourish your skin from the outside too?
Generally speaking, natural personal care products are in the middle of the road cost wise. Production quantities are smaller and the ingredients more expensive than cheaper commercial products. At the same time, the natural lines are not selling the sizzle with full page, full color ads in Vanity Fair. So, you pay less than in boutiques or department stores. To really know what you’re getting, you have to read the labels. Let’s take a closer look at a sample moisturizer.
First of all, FDA regs specify that (as with food) ingredients on cosmetic labels be listed in descending order of percent by weight. Water is the major component and delivery system of virtually all skin care products.
Instead, the first ingredient on our list might be an herbal extract such as camomile or calendula or aloe. These are particularly soothing to sensitive skin. It is true that these are mainly water. However, it makes sense that water-based herbals are a better choice than just distilled water.
The second ingredient in moisturizers is fat. Fats are an important part of our skin’s structure. About one-third of the fat in skin is cholesterol; another third is free fatty acids (fats that are not bound up in triglycerides or phospholipids); and the last third is ceramides which are special amine fatty acid structures.
In cosmetics, fats act as emollients and humectants. Emollients make skin soft and supple while humectants promote water retention.
Writing for Nutrition Science News, chemist C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, states,
“Providing the correct natural fats is likely the most important aspect of skin care.”
He goes on to explain that as well as being part of the skin, fats can augment the body’s sebum. Sebum is secreted by the sebaceous glands and consists of a blend of fats, waxes, and protein. It protects the skin from moisture loss and irritation. It is highly antimicrobial (to protect from infection).
In our sample moisturizer, natural fats, oils, and waxes augment our own sebum, providing more lasting lubrication and softening.
Abnormal sebum production can cause dry skin, itching, and flaking. This can lead to skin cracking and bleeding as well as scaly dermatitis. (This can also be a result of insufficient essential fatty acids in your diet.)
Natural fats, oils, and waxes, which work primarily as emollients, are superior because they are soluble in sebum and because the are easily absorbed and used by our skin cells.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAS) which are omega 6 fatty acids are especially important because our bodies do not make them and they are the basis of an essential fatty acid cascade.
Our sample moisturizer contains a mixture of sunflower oil and almond oil. But other likely ingredients might be flower oils, shea butter, or an olive-based emollient. These penetrate and richly hydrate, helping skin retain moisture without clogging pores.
In contrast, many commercial products contain mineral oil or other petrochemical derivatives such as petrolatum (a fancy name for petroleum jelly).
Mineral oil is a humectant. While it can soften skin in the short term because it slows water evaporation, it cannot help or heal dry or damaged skin.
Further, petroleum-based products do not penetrate the skin’s surface so they do not provide raw materials for sebum. True natural moisturizers never contain mineral oil or other petroleum derivatives.
Following these ingredients are those added to give extra benefits to the product. Depending on the effect the manufacturer wants you to experience, these might include oils high in essential fatty acids like borage, evening primrose or hemp seed; essential oils, such as rose oil.
Vitamins E, C or A (as retinyl palmitate), pycnogenol, alpha lipoic acid, herbal extracts, amino acids, hydrolyzed proteins, MSM, and even colostrum.
Ceramides similar to those we mentioned earlier as part of the body’s own skin fats are expensive but effective natural moisturizers found in some products.
Skin Care Feed Your Face
1Don’t go thinking I think I’m so smart. I’ve done all the above too. Siri Khalsa, Ed.
Skin Care Here Comes The Sun
The experts offer the following tips for minimizing the sun’s potentially harmful effects:
• Limit sun exposure to less than three hours a day.
• Avoid the sun altogether when UV radiation is strongest
— in summer, between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
• Use water resistant sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) as part of your daily skin care routine.
• When you plan to be outdoors for awhile, use a broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen of SPF
30+ (helps filter UVA and UVB). Apply it at least 20 minutes before exposure and reapply it every two hours, even if you aren’t swimming or exercising vigorously enough to break a sweat.
• Don’t be fooled by cloudy or overcast weather. (Eighty percent of the sun’s rays penetrate those clouds.)
• Keep covered. Wear a hat with a brim at least four inches deep and wrap around sunglasses with UV lenses.
In a news bulletin from the University of Texas Southwester Medical Center, Dr. Rod Rohrich, chairman of plastic surgery, commented that sunglass use may help prevent fine wrinkles around the eyes and added,
“…the use of sunglasses and avoiding direct sun on your eyes also diminishes your risk of cataract formation.”
UVA and UVB indicate the two types of ultraviolet radiation. UVB “burns” while UVA “ages”. The long wave UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, and cause the most dire skin injury. Evidence shows that major damage from UVA occurs long before a burn appears.
Sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum” filters both types of rays. At this time, the FDA defines several full spectrum ingredients.
They are divided into categories by level of protection. We discuss “Extensive” and “Considerable” coverages.
Extensive is provided by Avobensone, Ecamsule, and Zinc Oxide.
Considerable coverage comes from Dioxybenzone, Sulisobenzone, and Titanium Dioxide.
Only the minerals zinc and titanium provide physical barriers. The others are chemical barriers. In the personal care industry, zinc and titanium are known as “earth pigments”. Zinc oxide is currently considered to give the most complete protection.
On June 14, 2011, the FDA issued new rules for sunscreen products. These bring dramatic changes to current regulations and rules for sunscreen products. One change is that specific testing must be completed for each sunscreen product before claims about the product’s UVA and UVB protection can be made.
Also, the terms “sunblock” and “waterproof” cannot be used. Since neither of these is possible, the terms sunscreen and water resistant are used. No matter what you call it, “Don’t leave home without it.”
Skin Care Here’s The Skinny
In researching skin care lines produced for the natural products market, we found that every company was concerned about both our health and that of the earth.
One company used only bee products in their formulas; another was partially based on ayurveda; some began in the owners’ kitchens; some were big (one company offered 13 cleansers alone, not including masks and scrubs); others were boutique-like.
The routine for facial care remains the same. Daily care includes cleansers, toners, moisturizers (day & night), and sunscreen. Specialized products include scrubs and masks, serums, and eye treatments. Individual companies have varying theories and philosophies about skin care.
When you begin to investigate these products for yourself, sidestep overwhelm. Be prepared to makes notes about which products interest you. Go home and “Search” them. I guarantee this will help you to make your decisions.
Skin Care Here’s The Skinny
Nothing more to tell you that you don’t already know. So here are some reminders.
Eat right and stay hydrated. Take your daily supplements. Get adequate sleep. Exercise regularly. Consider a meditation practice. Care for your skin. Care for your Self. And remember: Growing old is part of life. Aging is optional.