Our skin is often one of the first things people notice about us. From the preferred pale complexions of East Asia to the rich tones of Africa, our skin says a lot about who we are, where we come from and how we chose to live life. With the ever changing fashions and the birth of the selfie it’s crucial that we nourish and protect this amazing organ.
Human skin has a broad range of functions. It provides us with protection, temperature regulation, insulation, prevents water loss, provides sensation and let’s not forget its role in synthesising Vitamin D!
Let’s talk science…
Our complexion is determined by the condition, age, pigment (melanin) and health of the Epidermis & Dermal layer of our skin. The Epidermis has several distinctive layers that renew approximately every 30 days. It is within this the hair shaft is situated, skin pigment cells (melanocytes) and temperature regulation occurs.
The Dermis is where our nerve endings are situated; these allow us to perceive touch/pain/heat through touch receptors. A complex network of blood vessels, the hair root, sebaceous glands and sweat glands are also located within the Dermis. A key structure of interest here is the presence of protein fibres called Elastin and Collagen, providing strength, elasticity and flexibility. These help give support to the Epidermis and produce a plump complexion. As we age, blood supply is prioritised to core organs and digestion, allowing less availability to supply the Dermis.
Elastin & Collagen are renewed much more slowly after the age of 30 and less still at around 50 years. It’s no wonder that the tell-tale signs of aging result in increased wrinkles and sagging skin! An additional factor that impacts this process, regardless of age, is the production of a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is released when we are under stress or suffering low blood sugar. All the more reason to keep our diets & lifestyle balanced!! The moist researched micro-nutrients that help maintain the health of the skin are as follows:
- Vitamin A (retinoids) benefits the skin by normalizing keratinization (skin cell development), reducing sebum production which contributes to acne, and reversing and treating photo damage (from UV rays) and cellulite.
- Vitamin D is used to promote the division of cells
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that regulates collagen synthesis, forms skin barrier lipids, regenerates vitamin E, and provides photo-protection (from UV rays).
- Vitamin E is a membrane antioxidant that protects against oxidative damage (free radical damage) and also provides protection against harmful UV
Since we’ve looked at what’s happening beneath the surface, let’s take a closer look at our skin’s appearance in a little more depth… What’s your skin type? Skin should be assessed when it is free of make-up, clean and dry. We determine skin type using the following guide:
- Dry Skin – Not to be confused with dehydrated skin! Dry skin can be dry and flaky, even in when suitably hydrated. You soak up moisturisers and masks and require heavier or more frequent applications of these. Typically, fine lines appear at a younger age with this skin type and facial skin can feel ‘tight’.
Celebrity skin type: Nicole Kidman
- Oily Skin – oil is present in areas of the face, most of the day. Congestion results in breakouts, enlarged & blocked pores and blackheads that are regularly visible. Often an oily skin type avoids moisturisers and even make-up as it can slide or smudge after a short time.
Celebrity skin type: Victoria Beckham
- Combination skin – This skin has dry or normal areas across the cheeks and around the eye area. Sebum is concentrated around the chin, nose and forehead (T-Zone) where blocked pores and breakouts are focussed. Make-up can often appear patchy if the correct skin care regime is not carried out.
Celebrity skin type: Rihanna
- Sensitive skin – This can be a difficult skin type to maintain well. Irritation from physical touch and product application can occur resulting in inflamed, heated areas that impact the uniform appearance of most skin types.
Celebrity skin type: Dita Von Teese
Over the course of the coming weeks, we’ll investigate the dos and don’ts of each skin type. We’ll delve more deeply into specific dietary and lifestyle practices along with specialist skincare protocols that will help you celebrate your skin, whatever its type. Look out for next week’s blog: Skin Type Special - Dry Skin.