Skin, it is our largest organ and one that provides more protection than you might think. We all know skin is our outer shell but it does more than guard our muscles and organs. Our many layers of skin play a role in our immunity, temperature regulation, vitamin D synthesis, water regulation and toxin removal. Keeping it healthy is an integral part of overall health.
Many of us put a lot of time and products into making it look younger, softer, firmer and smoother. While these lotions, creams, butters, oils and other topical concoctions feel great and provide some temporary results, true skin health comes from the inside out.
Good hydration is essential for good skin health and I don’t mean topically with creams. True skin hydration comes from inside. Skin cells, like all cells in the body, are primarily made up of water. This means that a lack of water will result in dry, tight cells. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling. Unfortunately, skin is one of the last organs to receive water from the body, meaning that drinking the recommended 8 glasses is especially important for that healthy glow.
Omega 3’s, obtained from fish oils are also essential for good skin hydration. The eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in Omega 3s is especially beneficial as it regulates oil production and boosts hydration. EPA can prevent acne, and by delaying the skin’s aging process, stave off wrinkles. A 2005 study in the Journal of Lipid Research discovered that EPA can help block the release of the UV-induced enzymes that eat away at our collagen, causing lines and sagging skin. Because EPA is both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent, it can protect against sun damage and help repair it.
Dry Brushing, like it sounds, is the act of brushing your skin in a particular pattern with a dry brush, usually before bathing. This is an old health trick with many benefits that is gaining new popularity. By gently dry brushing the skin in a circular pattern starting farthest from the heart and working towards the heart many good things happen!
- Increase blood flow and circulation.
- Stimulate and detoxify the Lymphatic system that lies just below the skin’s surface.
- Soothe and massage sore muscles.
- Exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, resulting is softer, brighter skin
- Clean pores by physically removing oil and dirt.
- Reduce cellulite.
- Combine the above results for an early morning energy boostIt is recommend to start with a soft brush and light pressure, working your way up to a firm brush.
Skin supports its own ecosystems of microorganisms including bacteria and yeast. Many of these are beneficial and cannot be removed with cleaning. If this delicate balance between yeast and bacteria is disturbed, like in the the rest of the body, an overgrowth can occur resulting in infection. Many of us take probiotics (healthy bacteria) for digestion and stomach health but researchers now know that the gut and the skin are connected. When bad bacteria are present in the gut (due to stress, poor diet, medications etc), they can cause flare ups on the skin in the form of eczema, rosacea and acne. Taking an oral probiotic can reduce these “bad bacteria” by replacing them with “good bacteria” that can help improve and prevent skin issues. There is also very promising research that suggests that taking probiotic supplement while pregnant can improve an infants skin health.
We all love the feel of the warm sun on our skin, especially after a long cold winter. That warm sun provides many benefits to us including the very important vitamin D, but it can also have damaging effects. Sun changes skin. In response to prolonged sun exposure our skin begins to discolour, initially with a redding burn or darkening tan. It then starts to develop freckles, discoloured areas, age spots and wrinkles. Sun exposure causes most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. There is also much research to support the claim that excessive sun exposure causes skin cancer.
Protecting your skin from prolonged and excessive sun exposure is vital to healthy skin, both appearance and function. Clothing, hats, shade and good sunscreen are all useful when fighting the damaging effects of the sun. Choosing a healthy sunscreen that is not going to increase your exposure to harmful chemicals is also important. Many sunscreens, while effective in preventing sun damage, contain ingredients that have been proven to be harmful to our bodies in other ways, some even causing cancer themselves. To find an effective, healthy sunscreen look for biodegradable, all natural sunscreens that do not contain ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin. To see how your sunscreen rates, check out the Environmental Working Group Annual Guide to Sunscreen. This research-based document is a great guide for choosing the best sunscreens for your family. We use it to make sure every sunscreen we sell in the store is effective and healthy for our customers.