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Skin Health – Does it really have anything to do with nutrition?

VitalityWise / Skincare  / Skin Health – Does it really have anything to do with nutrition?

Skin Health – Does it really have anything to do with nutrition?

Our skin plays a role not only in how we look, but also in how we feel. Whether we’re battling acne or worrying about wrinkles, it can be hard to feel our best when we’re not feeling confident within our own skin.

But fortunately, beautiful skin doesn’t have to be a mystery. There’s plenty we can do to regain control of any skin issues, no matter how problematic they may be. The information in this guide will help you work out what might be causing your skin’s issues.  As you’ll soon learn, our skin is impacted by an assortment of dietary and lifestyle choices, and how we choose to nourish ourselves, from the food we eat to the lifestyle choices we make, all have the potential to either boost or diminish our skin’s glow.

So, if you’re reading this and are currently battling with troubled skin, don’t despair! You’re going to find information and practical tips in the next few posts that you can apply to your current lifestyle to help reveal beautiful healthy skin. Plus the wonderful results of nourishing ourselves with nutrient-rich wholesome foods, as well as simple mindful lifestyle changes, won’t just assist with creating beautiful skin but will help with a wealth of other benefits too, including more energy, deeper sleep, improved moods or simply just overall good health. It’s a win-win.

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty, let’s start with some basic groundwork.

1. What factors contribute to poor skin health?

The skin acts as a window to what is going on inside the body. Poor skin is often an indicator that something is going wrong internally. There may well be a combination of factors involved, including: genetics, stress, hormonal issues, poor diet and water intake, prolonged lack of sleep, digestive or liver issues, blood and lymph circulation, chemicals, sun damage, cigarette smoke and more! And although it may be difficult at times to pinpoint where your skin issues are coming from, what we choose to feed and nourish our bodies with is one of the most effective steps we can take in restoring balance. After all, what we eat directly affects every organ in our body – and with skin being the largest organ it’s certainly not exempt. 

Did you know?

Our skin is the largest organ in our body!

  • Our skin performs a magnitude of tasks, many we’re probably not even aware of. It regulates our body temperature, protects us from invading pathogens, eliminates waste, absorbs sunlight to produce vitamin D, heals our wounds, and protects us from environmental invaders.
  • It’s made up of three different layers – the epidermis, which forms the outermost layer of the skin, the dermis, which serves as the middle layer, and the inner layer, known as the subcutaneous layer.
  • The epidermis (outer layer of the skin) regenerates itself with new skin cells from the dermis roughly every four weeks. This means that by supplying your skin with the right nutritional building blocks, you can create healthier skin cells in a little over a month!

You Are What You Eat…

In fact, what we eat literally becomes us! Approximately every 35 days the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, replaces itself using the nutrients we eat as the building blocks for our skins cells. So if we’re not nourishing our body with good food, then the building materials needed for healthy skin are simply not available.  The food we eat truly has the power to either nourish or hurt our complexion. If we’re not fuelling our bodies with the right fuel, our skin simply cannot look its best. When we commit to fuelling our body with beautiful nourishing foods, over time the cellular structure of the skin will begin to strengthen, leading to our most healthy beautiful skin.

So What Makes Up A Healthy Diet?

A healthy diet is one focussed around consuming plenty of nutrient-dense whole foods from a variety of sources, and a minimised intake of nutrient-poor processed foods.  Wholefoods are foods that have not undergone processing or refining, and as a result remain packed with nutrients, which might have otherwise been removed during the processing of foods. Whole foods include foods such as fruits and veggies, whole-grains, protein prepared in certain ways, nuts, beans and seeds.  When we choose to eat this way we naturally avoid foods that are high in refined sugars, artificial preservatives, additives, colours and other chemicals that are often added to processed foods, and instead fill up on foods that will love you, and your skin.

Although our skin is our largest organ and has many important jobs, other organs such as the liver, heart and brain, sit higher on the hierarchy of receiving nutrients, often leaving our skin a little worse for wear if we’re consuming an unhealthy diet. One of the best ways to ensure you’re receiving a wide variety of nutrients is to keep your diet balanced and colourful – you may have heard the saying before: “eat a rainbow”! Different kinds of foods will contain different kinds of nutrients, which are all needed for various functions and purposes in the body, including keeping our skin healthy. We’ll dive into these nutrients in more detail in the A-Z of skin nutrients section shortly!

2. A Holistic Approach To The Face

For many of us, there may be a tendency to break out or experience skin issues on certain areas of the face. Interestingly, according to ancient Chinese medicine this can offer us clues as to what organ, or specific area of the body, may be struggling and need a little love.

The Forehead

Problems within this area are representative of our digestive system and liver. Focussing on a healthy wholesome diet, removing processed junk foods, and minimising substances that overload the liver will help. Working on improving digestion can also be beneficial. (More on this later!)

The Middle Region Of The Face

The middle region of our face is often associated with our kidneys and respiratory system. Making sure to stay hydrated will assist with healthy kidney function – being mindful of your coffee and alcohol consumption is important as these can be dehydrating to the body. Avoiding smoking is important to help keep the respiratory system healthy, as well as making sure to keep fit and active with regular exercise. 

The Lower Region Of The Face

The lower region of the face is linked to our reproductive systems. Breakouts are often indicative of hormonal imbalances, especially around a woman’s monthly cycle. By supporting your body with a good diet, adequate sleep, and by minimising stress, you can help assist with balancing your hormones naturally.

Did you know there are two types of dry skin? Firstly and most commonly the skin can be dehydrated, meaning there’s not enough water content inside of your skin cells. Secondly skin can be lipid dry meaning the skin isn’t producing enough oil. Individuals with “dry skin types” have lipid dry skin and as a consequence of lipid dryness the skin can also become dehydrated. In contrast individuals with “combination skin” – characterised by an oily T Zone and dry flaky patches around the eyes or cheeks are likely to have dehydrated skin because there’s still oil production occurring when the skin’s in a “combination” state. Because the skin can be lipid dry, dehydrated or both it is important to cover all bases by using products that not only replace water content to the skin like but also put nourishing oils back on the skin. All good moisturiser formulations will have a combination of both emollients and humectants to do this job.

3. The A-Z Of Skin Loving Nutrients

A healthy balanced diet will help lay the foundations for beautiful skin, with a number of nutrients having particularly key super star roles – so let’s begin by getting familiar with them! You may have even noticed that some of these nutrients have appeared on the ingredients list of skincare products.  Your diet and lifestyle can also affect your skin’s acid mantle. Too much protein, alcohol, caffeine and/or excessive stress can change the acidity of your sweat and cause it to become irritating to the skin. Drinking plenty of water, eating lots of raw fruit and vegetables and getting enough exercise will help to maintain the skin’s natural pH balance.

Antioxidants

Free-radical damage is one of the main culprits responsible for skin aging. It causes deterioration of our skin’s structural support system, decreasing the suppleness of elastin and collagen tissues – the wonderful network of proteins in our skin that help us avoid resembling a raisin. In other words free-radicals cause these tissues to become dry and shrivelled, leading to wrinkles and premature aging well before our time. Antioxidants work by slowing down or preventing free-radical damage from occurring. They also help protect the skin from sun damage.

Luckily for us, antioxidants are abundant in colourful plant foods and ensuring we take in a good deal with our diet is vital for both good health and good skin. Consuming a variety of types and colours is key, as different plants contain different types of antioxidants, which is why eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies each day is so commonly recommended!

Where to find them: different coloured fruits and veggies. Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, red beans, apples, spinach, cherries and black beans contain some of the highest total antioxidant capacity per serving.

Vitamin A

There are two basic forms of vitamin A found in foods, retinoids and carotenoids.  Retinoids are derived from animal products and are particularly important in the health of our eyes and in the renewal of skin cells, while carotenoids have the ability to function as antioxidants, neutralising the damaging free-radicals within the body. They are also anti-inflammatory, helping to slow the aging process of the skin.

Vitamin A assists skin health in a number of ways – it’s particularly beneficial in helping to manage acne through its regulation of oil (sebum) producing skin glands. In fact, if you’ve used anti-acne or anti-ageing skin care products before it’s likely you’ve come across vitamin A on the ingredients list. It also helps promote cell turnover in the skin, as well as increasing the deposition of collagen, all of which are helpful in lessening the appearance and effects of aging.

Where to find it: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, dark leafy greens, liver, egg yolks and organic butter.

Spotlight On Free-Radicals

To understand free-radicals and their (not so friendly) relationship with antioxidants we need to go over a little chemistry – at an atomic level, atoms and molecules in the body contain electrons, and electrons like to exist in pairs; this keeps them feeling stable and safe. During chemical reactions atoms and molecules may lose electrons, making them extremely unstable and highly reactive – these are known as free-radicals. These electron-deprived molecules don’t like being in this state, so to make up for it they travel around the body on the hunt for an electron to steal so they can become stable again, and in doing so set off a chain reaction of damage, like a domino effect, to cells and tissues within the body. As one electron is stolen from one molecule, the once stable molecule becomes unstable and goes on the hunt for another electron, and this chain reaction, called free-radical damage, continues.

Antioxidants are molecules with spare electrons and work by donating their electrons to free-radicals, which quickly pair up with the single electrons on free-radicals and in doing so transform them from unstable reactive atoms/molecules to stable ones. This is ideal as it effectively stops the chain reaction of damage in its tracks, as once their electrons become paired they are happy little molecules once again – pretty neat huh?

Although free-radicals are a natural by-product of life, many modern-day culprits increase free-radical production within our body including pollution, sunlight, stress, high-intensity exercise and exhaust fumes. This is where antioxidants take a starring role, making it crucial for skin health to ensure we’re taking in a good deal of these nutrients both internally and topically on our skin’s surface.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is wonderful at locking in moisture and hydrating the skin, which it does by helping to stabilise the skin’s barrier function, and thereby decreasing the amount of water lost through the skin’s surface. It’s also anti-inflammatory, and assists in speeding up wound healing, making Vitamin B5 great news for acne sufferers!

Where to find it: most vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, lentils, as well as oily fish, eggs, nuts and even mushrooms.

Vitamin C

High on the list of beauty nutrients is vitamin C, which plays a huge role in supporting gorgeous healthy skin. Aside from its immune-boosting properties, vitamin C also acts as a powerful antioxidant, as it’s highly effective at preventing damage generated by free-radicals that can lead to tired and stressed out looking skin.

Additionally, it’s also an essential component in the formation and maintenance of collagen, an elastic protein found within your connective tissue. As we age the collagen present in our skin begins to lose its elasticity and its structural support begins to weaken, leading to some of the common signs of ageing, such as wrinkles or droopy looking skin. This is where vitamin C plays an important role in helping to maintain collagen production, resulting in smoother and younger looking skin.

Where to find it: Vitamin C is abundant in fruits and veggies, particularly dark leafy greens, bell peppers, citrusy fruit and berries.

Did you know? The wonderful powers of vitamin C extend back centuries ago to when sailors and pirates who made long voyages across the sea would often develop the vitamin C deficiency disease, Scurvy, characterised by bleeding gums, joint weakness and slow wound healing. This was later connected to a lack of perishable foods aboard ships, such as fresh fruit and veggies, after it was discovered that scurvy could be cured and prevented by the consumption of vitamin C rich foods, such as oranges and lemons.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunlight vitamin as our bare skin is able to produce it when exposed to the sun!  In fact, our skin can manufacture as much as 10,000 IU after 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposure!

Amongst its various roles in many different areas of health, Vitamin D plays a crucial role in skin cell production. If not present in sufficient amounts, skin cells are unable to develop optimally, leading to thinner and more fragile skin.

Remember that while it’s important to get a little sunlight on our bare skin each day, too much sunlight will further accelerate ageing, including the development of wrinkles and sunspots, and the risk of sunburn and skin cancers. So do be mindful of how much sun you’re getting, and if you’re spending extended periods in the great outdoors, cover up with sun protection – which includes a stylish hat, some great sunglasses and a long sleeve shirt.

Where to find it: our bodies produce vitamin D whenever and wherever we get sun on our bare skin, however it’s also found in small amounts in some foods, such as oily fish, eggs and liver.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is one of the most abundant antioxidants present in our skin. It helps to protect and repair our skin from free-radicals and in doing so, preventing dull, damaged skin and fine lines and wrinkles.  It’s also wonderfully moisturising, particularly in soothing dry or rough skin, so it’s no wonder it’s so commonly used as a star ingredient in skincare products!

Where to find it: hazelnuts, avocados, sunflower oil, almonds, broccoli, spinach and olive oil. It’s important to consume vitamin E rich foods with  a source of fat (for example, spinach drizzled with a little olive oil), as  vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, and requires fat present in the digestive tract to help aid in its digestion and absorption. The good news is that  many vitamin E rich foods have their own source of good natural fat.

Essential Fatty Acids

The two essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, are ‘essential’ as the body cannot produce them – meaning they must be consumed through our diet. Essential fats are like the skin’s natural “moisturisers”, with the right fats literally moisturising your skin from the inside out. The major roles of essential fatty acids in skin health include maintaining the skin’s flexibility, keeping it well moisturised and assisting in skin repair. Omega-3 is of particular benefit to skin health, helping to visibly decrease inflammation and improve the skin’s moisture level. Studies have also shown its usefulness in helping manage conditions such as acne, dermatitis and psoriasis.

Today’s modern diet tends to be very unbalanced in the ratio of essential fatty acids, with the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 approximately 10:1, due to the prominence of omega-6 in popular foods (such as vegetable oils, grains and many processed foods). It’s vital to ensure a more balanced consumption of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, as an excess can be inflammatory within the body and may play a role in the prevalence of inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea and psoriasis.

Where to find them: foods high in omega-3 include flaxseed oil and linseeds, oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, fish oil, krill oil, and shellfish.

Fibre

Fibre is essential in normalising bowel movements and ridding toxins from our bodies through the elimination of wastes. When we don’t eat enough fibre the toxins that should be eliminated through our bowels are reabsorbed back into our bloodstream, which can cause havoc on our skin. Nature has pre-packed fibre into many foods, such as veggies, fruits and legumes, whereas many processed refined foods are lower in fibre and should be avoided.

Where to find it: broccoli, leafy greens, squash, beans, oats, apples, pears and Brussel sprouts to name a few.

Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that inhabit our digestive tract. They play an important role in both immune and digestive health and are an essential part of a healthy gut.  Many factors can hinder the ratio between good and bad bacteria in our gut, including drug and alcohol use, antibiotics, heavily processed foods and the contraceptive pill, so it’s important to include plenty of probiotic dietary sources into your diet.

Where to find them: cultured yoghurt, fermented milk drinks, kombucha tea and fermented foods such as sauerkraut or good quality miso soup. It may also be beneficial to look at taking a high-quality probiotic supplement to help bump up your daily intake if needed.

Silica

Silica is a trace mineral that’s essential in maintaining the health of connective tissues in the body (a biological tissue that provides support and structure all over the body). Collagen, a component of connective tissue, is super important in helping to maintain smooth wrinkle-free skin, and so deficiencies in silica are often linked to reduced skin elasticity, which is bad news for aging!

Where to find it: plenty of fruit and veggies, such as strawberries, apples, carrots, cabbages, cucumber and celery.

Zinc

Call it the 24-hour on-call mechanic, the mineral zinc is a superstar nutrient critical in wound healing, repairing damaged tissues and preventing scar formation – making it wonderfully helpful in an assortment of skin issues. Acne sufferers may find zinc particularly beneficial, with several studies showing that zinc helps to reduce acne.

Where to find it: seafood, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, cocoa powder and cashews.

4. Our Digestive System and Skin

A vital cornerstone in skin health is a healthy well-functioning digestive tract. In fact, many individuals with digestive issues notice a huge, or even complete, improvement in any skin issues, once they fix any digestive concerns they may be facing.

Opting for real foods that are packed with nourishment will support our gut and all of its digestive functions, including the digestion and absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat, and healthy elimination of wastes from the body. As our digestive system is the place where we absorb the nutrients from our food, it makes sense that we want it to be as healthy as possible!

Suboptimal digestion is becoming increasingly common in today’s society and can really hinder our body’s ability to optimally digest and absorb the nutrients from our food. Many factors including a poor diet high in processed foods and refined carbohydrates and sugars, food intolerances and sensitivities, minimal exercise, infection, certain medications, poor eating habits and too much stress, can all impact how we’re digesting food. So, if you suffer from any on-going digestive issues make sure to make an appointment with our nutritional therapist to help get to the bottom of it all! Ensuring proper elimination is also really imperative to skin health, as these processes remove wastes and toxins from the body. Ensuring a healthy fibre and sufficient water intake and enjoying regular exercise will help with keeping your bowels moving regularly.

If you suffer from a troubled digestive system, focussing on practising proper digestive habits can make a world of a difference – try these simple tips below!

  • REMEMBER TO CHEW YOUR FOOD When there’s tasty food in front of us it’s all too easy to gobble it down in a few mouthfuls, however chewing your food properly is fundamental to good digestion. Rather than our stomach, digestion actually begins in our mouth – chewing causes the release of salvia which contains digestive enzymes, that help to break down fats and starches. Additionally, chewing helps break down larger particles of food into smaller particles, which creates a larger surface area, to help your stomach acid break down food in the stomach. This will help to optimally prepare food for nutrient absorption in the small intestines – and better nutrient absorption means more nutrients are able to be utilised for skin health.  Remember there are no teeth beyond our mouth – try putting down your cutlery between each mouthful, or engaging in conversation at the table.
  • STIMULATE YOUR STOMACH ACID The role of stomach acid is to begin the breakdown of food, and when stomach acid is not acidic enough this can lead to less than optimum digestion. Try adding an acidic element to the meal, whether that is a squeeze of lemon juice on your fish or a drizzle of vinegar on your salad, to help increase the acidity of your stomach.
  • BE MINDFUL OF PORTION SIZE Overeating can overload our digestion system, which takes a toll on our body and may lead to weight gain. Aside from listening to your body when you’re feeling full, other good tips for managing portion size include ensuring your plate is at least half veggies or salad, serving up meals on smaller plates and waiting 20 minutes before helping yourself to seconds.
  • CONTROL STRESS Stress can seriously hinder our digestive system. When stressed our body diverts blood away from the digestive system, affecting our digestive secretions (needed to help break down foods), as well as the muscle activity of our digestive muscles. A certain amount of stress is unavoidable (and perfectly healthy), but when it becomes an on-going phenomenon it’s important to adopt relaxation techniques to help manage it – look into meditation, restorative exercises such as yoga or walking, or simply more quality you-time, whether that be reading your favourite book or taking a warm bath.

Detoxification & Skin

There are a number of key players involved in detoxification within the body, including the liver, digestive system, kidneys, respiratory system, lymphatic system and of course, the skin.

The liver is vital and works hard to distinguish between beneficial nutrients, and unnecessary substances and toxins that need to be filtered out and removed from the body. When the liver is overloaded and unable to detoxify substances at a fast enough rate, it’ll partner up with other elimination organs, such as the skin, to help assist it with getting rid of toxins. This can lead to the skin’s appearance becoming inflamed or congested, and is a sign we need to show our body and digestive system a little extra love and support.

Limiting foods and substances that overload the liver, such as alcohol, transfatty acids, stress hormones, refined sugars, refined processed foods, cigarettes, pesticides and caffeine, will help prevent the liver from becoming overwhelmed.

5. Water, Water, Water!

The importance of being properly hydrated cannot be over-stated when it comes to skin!

Water is crucial in assisting in the elimination and removal of toxins from the body through our excretory system, which involves many organs important in skin health, including the kidneys, liver, bladder, colon and even the skin itself.

Consuming adequate water helps support healthy bowel elimination, which is essential in preventing constipation. Low water consumption can lead to drier stools, which become difficult to pass – and the longer waste remains in our colon, the more toxins are reabsorbed by our bodies, which may increase the rate of detoxification through the skin.

If you feel like you struggle with drinking enough water, don’t despair – try out these tips below!

  • Always start your day with a big glass of water. Upon awakening we’re often a little dehydrated after not drinking all night. It’s also great way to kick-start your body into action too!
  • If you get bored of plain water, spice it up with some fresh herbs or slices of fruit – we love lemon and mint, or raspberry and basil!
  • Buy a clear 1.5L drink bottle to carry around with you during the day. Mark lines on it every 250ml, and set goals to drink through each section before a certain time during the day.
  • Invest in a drink bottle that you’ll enjoy drinking out of and take ownership of! This could include a thermal one that keeps water cold or warm, or one with a funky pattern on it.
  • Remember hydration doesn’t stop at water! Hydrate with water-based foods like cucumbers, watermelon and oranges.

6. Lifestyle

Aside from our diet there are a number of other components we need to take into consideration when it comes to achieving beautiful skin; as how we choose to live our lifestyles, from our sleeping patterns, to the amount of stress we face, to our skin care routine, all have the ability to seriously affect our skin. We’ll begin exploring these factors in a little more detail next.

Sleep – They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!

Sleep truly is one of nature’s most powerful beauty treatments – and unfortunately one of the most undermined. Many of us struggle to get the amount of sleep our body needs for good health, often due to our busier and later then-ever work schedules, technology and its stimulating effects, or our increased stress levels which keeps us wired into the night, when we should be unwinding.

When it comes to our skin, a lack of sleep may be detrimental for a number of reasons.  Firstly, poor sleep has been linked to a decrease in our skin’s barrier function, which can be problematic as the outer-most layer of our skin plays an important role in locking in moisture, and when this is disturbed by lack of sleep it may lead to dehydration, causing fine lines to become more noticeable.

Additionally, not getting enough shut-eye can cause our body to release more of the stress hormone, cortisol. In excess, this hormone is linked to an increased breakdown of collagen, a structural protein that helps keep our skin supple, smooth and prevent UV damage.

Skin aside, on-going increased cortisol levels can also contribute to a vicious cycle of sleeplessness, making it harder to fall and stay asleep throughout the night – so if you think stress could be a contributing factor to your night owl behaviour, definitely consider exploring stress management techniques.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, look at making it a priority – not just for better skin, but also for better health. After all, with restorative sleep also comes improved mood and cognitive function, enhanced immunity, better emotional and physical resilience, a higher pain threshold, and better hormonal function.

If you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, try these tips below:

  • Get a good dose of sunlight as soon as you wake up! Getting at least 10 minutes sunshine before 10am will help with resetting your body’s internal clock.
  • Look into relaxation techniques. Stress, anxiety and worry can make it seriously difficult to both drift off to sleep and stay asleep. Try doing some deep breathing or meditation right before bedtime to help you to unwind.
  • Avoid stimulants after 3pm. The caffeine in many stimulants helps keep us wired, which is beneficial if needed, but not so great when it’s time to sleep – because caffeine has a half-life of approximately 8 hours which means if you have a coffee at 3pm one half of the caffeine will still be in your system at 11 o’clock at night! If you’re particularly sensitive to stimulants, look at removing them from your diet altogether and try invigorating herbal teas instead like lemongrass, ginger or holy basil.
  • This is a tough one but turn off all backlit electronic devices within two hours of bed. When we expose our eyes to bright light before bed time, whether that be a computer screen, mobile, or television, it can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone important in helping us fall and stay asleep.

Make Time To Relax

A key component in creating healthy skin is prioritising relaxation and a little YOU time into each and every day. Many of us live in a constant state of busyness, rushing from one appointment to the next as we juggle work, family life, our relationships and everything else we manage to squeeze in between. This way of living often manifests stress, which in short bursts is perfectly healthy, but if an on-going phenomenon can be seriously impacting to our health.

7. Natural Skin Care

Why is it important to consider what we-re putting on our skin?

By now you’ll have a fair idea of how diet and lifestyle affect your skin, so it makes sense that we should also be mindful of what we’re putting onto our skin.

The skin is the body’s largest organ and can provide a direct pathway into your bloodstream. When you apply creams, gels and oils to the skin there’s a chance that some of the ingredients are passing through the skin into your blood and are then circulated around the body.

It’s important to know what’s in your skincare and the potential side effects these ingredients can have on your body’s internal systems, because a number of chemicals have been linked with hormone disrupting and potentially carcinogenic side effects – when the materials build up in your organs over long term product use.

A well-functioning digestive system helps the body to identify potentially toxic materials, helping to eliminate them before they pass into the bloodstream. But because the skin provides a direct pathway into the bloodstream it bypasses the body’s digestive system resulting in a higher workload for your liver to deal with while it processes all of the other toxins and hormones in your body including caffeine, alcohol and oestrogen.

Below is a handy Toxic Table which identifies chemicals used by the beauty industry which have been associated with negative health effects. This list is by no means exhaustive – meaning it’s a good start but it’s always important to do your own research.

Chemical Name Potential Effect On The Body

DIETHANOLAMINE Irritation to the skin, eyes or lungs Possible Carcinogen (causes cancer ) Lung & respiratory damage Allergic reactions Immune system disruption

SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE (SLS) Irritation – skin, eyes or lungs Contains toxins that can damage the  bodies organs (non-reproductive)

PARABENS Methylparaben Propylparaben Ethylparaben Butylparaben Isobutylparaben Isopropylparaben

Endocrine system disruption (hormones) – Parabens mimic oestrogen and can act as a potential hormone disruptor.

FORMALDEHYDE Carcinogen (causes cancer) Allergic reactions Lung & respiratory damage Immune system disruption

ALUMINIUM Nervous system disruption Allergic reactions Immune system disruption Contains toxins that can damage the  bodies organs (non-reproductive)

PROPYLENE GLYCOL Irritation – Skin, eyes or lungs Contains toxins that can damage the  bodies organs (non-reproductive)

TALC Can be contaminated with asbestos fibres posing risks for respiratory disorders and cancer. Cosmetic grade talc free of  asbestos is a form of magnesium silicate that can also be toxic and carcinogenic (cause cancer)

PHTHALATES Diethyl Phthalate Dibutyl Phthalate Butyl Benzyl Phthalate

Endocrine system disruption -causes hormonal imbalances. Lung & respiratory damage

TRICLOSAN Irritation – skin, eyes or lungs Endocrine system disruption- causes hormonal imbalances. Allergic reactions Immune system disruption

TOLUENE Irritation – skin,eyes or lungs Lung & respiratory damage

OXYBENZONE Allergic reactions Endocrine system disruption -causes hormonal imbalances. Immune system disruption

MINERAL OIL PARAFFIN OIL

Allergic reactions Contains toxins that can damage the  bodies organs (non-reproductive)

COAL TAR Carcinogen (causes cancer) Allergic reactions

HYDROQUINONE Allergic reactions Lung & respiratory damage Contains toxins that can damage the  bodies organs (non-reproductive)

When choosing a skincare routine it’s important to look for natural ingredients which provide benefit to the skin by enhancing its health and wellbeing.

Look for gentle cleansers and exfoliants – which don’t aggressively strip the skin’s natural protective layer. Instead look for natural ingredients that gently exfoliate and unclog pores. Ingredients like micro pumice, bentonite clay as well as gentle Alpha Hydroxy Acids like Citric and Beta Hydroxy Acids like naturally derived Salicylic are the business and remember that exfoliating too much can dry the skin leading to inflammation so as a general rule exfoliate once per week or every other day max.

We recommend daily cleansing with oils to remove makeup and dirty oily build up from the skin’s pores. I know you may be a little sceptical about using an oil cleanser on your skin with fear that it’ll make your skin even more oily, but don’t worry. Cleansing oils work to absorb and remove the dirty oily build-up in your skin, like toxic environmental gunk, dead skin cells and even make up, and they do this without leaving your skin feeling like a greasy oil slick. Plus oil cleansers are gentle and don’t aggressively strip the skin of its protective oily layer (called the acid mantle) like foaming facial cleansers do.

Protect your Acid Mantle with gentle toners and natural moisturisers – Our skin is amazing! It has the ability to create its own protective layer called the acid mantle. The acid mantle acts as a barrier to protect us from bacteria, viruses and other harmful pollutants. The acid mantle is a clear layer that sits on top of the skin and is made up of sebum (the skin’s natural oil) and enzymes (from sweat) secreted by the sebaceous glands. The pH level of a healthy acid mantle should be between 4.5-6.2. The mildly acidic level of an acid mantle helps to neutralise bacteria, viruses and other harmful pollutants that could potentially penetrate the skin’s surface and cause harm to our skin and health.

Hydrating and protecting your skin – after cleansing it’s important to apply moisturising oils and natural ingredients which help to lock in hydration. Your skin can become dry due to lots of different factors like water intake, sun exposure or a compromised acid mantle.

8. Summary

Let’s summarise everything we’ve just learnt into our top 7 tips for good skin!

1. Eat a healthy balanced whole foods diet. A healthy balanced diet is packed full of nutrients needed for skin health, and is the foundation for beautiful skin. We cannot expect to glow on the outside, unless we’re glowing with goodness on the inside.

2. Practise healthy digestion. Many skin issues may significantly improve or be eradicated once digestive issues are solved. 

3. Stay hydrated. Water is a vital part of life. It is crucial in assisting in the elimination and removal of toxins and wastes from the body, which is essential for clear healthy clear skin.

 4. Get your eight hours of shut-eye. There’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep! A lack of sleep may accelerate skin aging, leading to fine lines and aged skin well before our time.

5. Remember to relax. Relaxation promotes the “rest and repair” state of our nervous system, which is essential for proper digestion and absorption of food, deep and restful sleep, and other restorative functions within the body.

 6. Be gentle with your skin. Use gentle exfoliants and oil cleaners to keep your skin clean.

7. Keep your acid mantle intact. Choose products which help to maintain and build your skin’s acid mantle and remember your diet plays a role too.

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