Topical Sunscreens and a Healthy Summer
Many doctors and scientists agree that as much as 90% of all visible signs of aging of the skin are caused by sun damage. Statistically, it is said that 50% of sun damage occurs before the age of eighteen. Antioxidants assist with battling the free radical damage, which is a by-product of normal skin function. This damage causes the skin to age and thinning of the fat pad under the skin.
First of all, we all need sun, but in moderation. Sun is important for our overall wellbeing and for our skin. Twenty minutes of sun exposure in the early hours of the day or later in the afternoon have an energizing effect, it is good for the soul and is a source of vitamin D,- D3 being critical for liver functionality. Tanning is the skin’s defence mechanism against injury and trauma. Unfortunately, when you burn your skin in the sun, even a little bit, the DNA records that insult forever and plays it back like a videotape for years to come. In other words, you age much faster than if you have never burned at all.
Topical sunscreens are broadly classified into 2 groups – chemical absorbers and physical blockers. Chemical absorbers absorb UV rays while physical blockers reflect UV rays. Physical Blockers such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are not absorbed by the skin. Instead, they sit on the skin’s surface, blocking UVA and UVB rays and act as a natural reflective shield. Sunscreen formulations labelled “SPF” only refer to UVB protection, while labels stating “Broad Spectrum SPF” protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
It is recommended to choose an SPF 30 if you plan to be outside for a longer period of time, as it will provide 97% protection from UV damage. You are still able to acquire a tan when using sunscreen as no sunscreen will block all UV rays. It is often thought that there is a massive protection difference between SPF 15 and SPF 50 when in reality there is only a 5% difference in coverage.
Conventionally formulated sunblock is often too greasy or heavy to wear daily. Hence most people will only wear it to the beach and skip it on a daily basis. Wrong! The sun mercilessly comes through car windows and windscreens and any reflective surface with the end result being potential skin damage.
After evaluating the type of sunscreen to use, it is important to look at the complete ingredient deck. A vast majority of formulations contain
chemicals that are dangerous to the skin and then when they are absorbed by the body, have been linked to a host of health issues and allergies within the skin and beyond. Formulas comprising more natural, antioxidant and mineral-rich ingredients will not only support the skin in maintaining optimal health but will also further enhance the UV protection benefits.
With antioxidants, you can’t have too much of a good thing. Not only are antioxidants vital in protection and prevention, but they are also important in fighting the signs of aging, internally and externally. Getting these nutrients naturally from natures’ superfoods is always the best option, but topicals applied to the skin and internal supplements also help the skin. These include glutathione, vitamins A, C, E, bioflavonoids, polyphenols, resveratrol, and superoxide dismutase.
Whichever side of the chemical vs physical fence you sit on, when selecting the right protection for your skin, you need to think seriously about what will provide the best health benefit for the skin. I always like to say the best sunscreen is the one you will actually use. Keep in mind zinc oxide is an inorganic compound and an essential mineral for our bodies. This powerful mineral provides both broad-spectrum protection and plays an important role in cell production, promotes healthy skin and hair and boosts the immune system. Who doesn’t like a skincare ingredient that pulls double duty?
Mask Wearing Complications
There is a thought that we have more microbes on our body skin than we have human cells. The human skin provides the largest surface area for microbial growth and is host to millions of microbial organisms. The skin microbiome is dominated by members of 4 phyla: firmicutes, actinobacteria, bacteroidetes and proteobacteria.
There is a thought we should start perceiving the skin as an ecosystem composed of physical and living biological components occupying diverse habitats. When the skin’s microbiome is out of kilter, disruptions may occur resulting in an aged appearance, infections, skin disorders, reactive skin, redness and acne.
When it comes to the microbiome of the skin and mask-wearing there are 3 main factors disrupting the balance. These are friction, changes to the microbiome and an alkaline environment. These 3 factors are also seen in another common skin condition, nappy rash.
Friction from mask-wearing results in loss of the barrier function – which we discussed in last month’s article. Each day our skin endures the rubbing of our masks from talking and general moving throughout the day which results in the gradual sloughing of the outer layers of the skin. This is accelerated by the moisture on the skin from our breath. As the barrier of the skin is eroded, a greater amount of water is lost through the skin and it dries out and creates sensitivity, redness or an aged appearance. Remember to change your mask daily sometimes a few times a day if necessary. Also, review the quality of your mask. Friction may also be reduced by using a topical like Rhonda Allison’s Drop of Essence in your daily skincare routine. This emollient is plant-based which is also a good food source for a healthy microbiome.
Our skin is naturally slightly acidic on the pH scale, around 4.5-5.5. At this level, the skins barrier system functions optimally and the immune system is operating at an optimal level for healthy skin. The condensate of the breath has consistently been measured around a pH 8 – alkaline. When the skin is exposed to long periods of an alkaline environment with mask-wearing, it’s natural buffering, becomes overwhelmed and the skin starts to become unhealthy, and the microbiome and skin barrier is less effective. Ensure your skincare products at home are all pH balanced and suitable for your skin condition. These should be reviewed each season and perhaps more often in these challenging times we are living in, as stress also creates imbalances in the skin.
When we keep our skin cells healthy, we rely on external microbiotic life forms to work in harmony with and support our own healthy cells. These healthy cells form the human microbiome. The human microbiome is kept at the same slightly acidic level as the skin. As the skin becomes more alkaline the prevalence of overgrowths of various harmful kinds of bacteria and bacteria on the skin increases. Skincare products for home use and a healthy lifestyle both contribute to assisting a healthy skin microbiome which will in-turn assist with less irritation from mask-wearing.
Some of the benefits of a healthy and balanced skin microbiome are:
- Enhancing the skin’s ability to become and stay properly hydrated
- Visibly improving signs of pigmentation, aging, dryness and reducing a dry, taught sensation
- Strengthening the skin’s surface against environmental threats and enhancing the skin’s natural defence
- Diminishing factors that trigger reactive skin
- Restoring a healthy pH balance to the skin’s surface
Looking after the microbiome of our skin is an extremely important consideration when it comes to caring for the health of our skin. As a result of preventative measures for Covid-19, our mask-wearing has benefits but it also comes with side effects for our normally healthy skin. Come into, or call the Clinic and ask us how we may be able to assist you with your skin concerns, we are happy to help.
The Lymphatic System and the Skin
The skin is the largest organ of the body where all of the components are connected like a jigsaw puzzle. When one piece of the biological jigsaw puzzle is compromised, the ripple effect impacts organs, vital systems and the functioning of the body as a whole. When discussing the skin, we need to consider and understand the lymphatic system and its relevance to its overall appearance and health.
The lymphatic system is one of the most intricate networks of tissue and organs. It plays an imperative role in the nourishment and regeneration of cells, keeps the immune system healthy, filters metabolic waste and is imperative to the detoxification process for the whole body.
A perfectly functioning lymphatic system will dispel toxins that can be harmful to both the health of the skin and the immune system. With a sluggish lymphatic system, impurities may be trapped in cells, leading to a loss of elasticity, premature aging and acne. The lymphatic system collects excess fluid (lymph) that drains from tissues and cells and returns it to the bloodstream. It is an important part of the immune system, producing and releasing lymphocytes – the white blood cells – that monitor and destroy foreign bodies such as viruses, fungi and bacteria.
The lymph collects extra fluid drained from the tissues and cells. It is often recognized as the clear yellowish fluid that accompanies blood, for example when a pustule is extracted. The lymphatic system is not part of the vascular system and therefore does not have the benefit of the pumping action of the heart to keep it circulating and moves only in an upward direction away from gravity.
Already having a battle with gravity, the lymphatic system has other factors creating negative side effects such as environmental toxins, a poor diet high in processed foods, inadequate sleep, stress, dehydration and a lack of exercise.
Some of the signs of a compromised lymphatic system may include:
skin hardening and thickening,
swelling in fingers,
bloating and excess weight,
enlarged lymph nodes,
cold hands and feet,
colds and sinus infections,
dry or itchy skin,
Fortunately, there are simple things that can be done at home and also in the clinic, in order to stimulate the lymphatic system to help reduce signs of rosacea, acne, puffiness and dry aged skin.
One of the easiest things to do at home is to increase exercise. The contraction of the muscles during exercise pumps lymph movement from the inside out. Alternating hot and cold water in the shower both dilates and contracts the natural pump action to force the toxins out of the body. Dry body brushing for several minutes each day prior to showering stimulates both the lymphatic system and the natural oil production.
Deep breathing deep within the diaphragm acts as a pumping action transporting the toxins into the bloodstream and then to the liver for detoxification. Drinking water each day, at least 1-2 litres, will help cleanse and hydrate the body. Caffeine and alcohol should be decreased in quantity as they can lead to dehydration. In-Clinic treatments may include the relaxing Lymphatic Body Booster which can be utilized while having a facial treatment such as PEMF, Radio Frequency, or manual lymphatic massage.
One of the goals of Clinical treatments is to provide strengthening of both the blood and the lymphatic flow in order to reduce the underlying inflammation which can be seen as redness, acne and aged skin.
The lymphatic system is a delicate and imperative system within the body and if not tended to promptly the vessels may end up physically damaged, functionally inactive and too inflamed to flush excess fluid and toxins out of the body. Lockdown has been a challenge on so many levels, give the body the TLC it deserves when you are wanting it to stand in good stead and help you look and feel fabulous.
Has mask wearing and winter compromised the barrier of our skin?
Generally, our bodies do fairly well at protecting themselves, but when it comes to our skin barrier, day to day life really takes its toll. A compromised barrier creates a lot of challenges for our skin including faster aging, dryness, sensitivity, irritation and redness.
The skin barrier serves an important function in protecting the body from infection, toxins and other DNA damaging elements. In the Clinic we are seeing more cases of compromised skin barrier than ever before as a result of stress, overuse of active or harsh ingredients, environmental aggressors (extreme weather, allergens and pollutants), overexposure to the sun, over-exfoliating, over washing, harsh detergents, soaps and hand sanitiser, medications, autoimmune diseases, genetic factors, blue lights from computers and smartphones and even overly aggressive professional treatments when the skin has not been prepared prior to treatment.
The dermal layer of the skin (the inner layer of the two main layers of the skin and includes connective tissue, oil, blood vessels and other structures) is the precursor to a strong epidermal layer (the thin outer layer of the skin that is visible to the eye) and a properly functioning barrier.
The barrier comprises of cells called corneocytes that are bound together by cement-like lipids. This very thin wall has a monumental job in keeping out harmful environmental pathogens and toxins and retaining our body’s water content. When the barrier is compromised the skin no longer effectively retains moisture, and its ability to protect itself is weakened.
As a result, compromised skin may exhibit
- a dull appearance
- visible capillaries
- increased sensitivity
- pigmentation and early ageing signs
The compromised skin requires resuscitating and revitalising with a combination of nutrients, vitamins and superstar antioxidants both internally and externally. Antioxidants, which consist of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins help to repair and prevent damage to our skin by slowing free radical damage, an oxidation process that leads to tissue and cell dysfunction. Antioxidants work by neutralising free radicals and inhibiting cell damage by preventing the oxidation of other molecules. They themselves are oxidised, which is what allows them to effectively eradicate oxidation chain reactions. Antioxidants are one of the main first line defenders against free radicals.
Antioxidants are not stored by the body and therefore they routinely need to be replenished both internally and externally. When it comes to antioxidants, the body and skin cannot get enough of a good thing. They are important in protection and prevention and are vital for fighting ageing. The first step is getting nutrients for internal use (Vitamin C – brussels sprouts, guava, citrus, and broccoli. Vitamin A – Spinach, liver, pumpkin, kale and carrots. Vitamin E – carrots, tomato, oats, wheat germ oil, walnut oil, and olive oil. Polyphenols – walnuts, dark chocolate, berries, and green tea.) naturally from superfoods. Bioflavonoids – sea-buckthorn, tea, citrus, onions and berries.
Applying antioxidants topically is also crucial for the external health, wellbeing and rebuilding the barrier of our skin. There are some specific antioxidants that will speed the healing and strengthening of the skin topically. These antioxidants focus on strengthening and nourishing the mitochondria to fight against the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that contribute to a compromised barrier.
These include spin trap, L-glutathione, superoxide dismutase (SOD), CoQ10, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C and heart of green tea. Compromised barriers also suffer from trans1 epidermal water loss (TEWL), which can be remedied with specialised lipid and hydration support with various humectants, hyaluronic acid, organic oils and omegas all of which will bind and seal moisture into depleted skin.
Each skin and the level of damage to the barrier is very individual and requires a customised approach to the restoration of the skin. The skin must go through several cycles to shed the compromised cells, making way for the new, healthy cells to come to the surface revealing healthy hydrated and radiant skin.
Bumpy Arms, Thighs and Butts – Keratosis Pilaris
Do you have small white or red, rough bumps on your thighs, buttocks or upper arms? It might be a condition called keratosis pilaris. KP is a benign genetic condition that creates a build-up of the protein called keratin in the pores. The pores become clogged creating bumps on the skin. KP can also be associated with atopic dermatitis, hay fever and eczema and is predominant in women, sometimes occurring during pregnancy.
The skin is the largest and most beneficial elimination organ in the body and is responsible for one-quarter of the body’s detoxification each day. It will eliminate about five hundred grams of waste acid each day in the average adult, most of it through the sweat glands. The skin is known as our third kidney, it receives one third of all the blood circulated in the body. With all of this in mind it is the last to receive nutrients in the body, yet it is our barometer to show signs of imbalance or deficiency such as keratosis pilaris.
Managing KP includes reviewing the products you are using both in the shower and afterward. Gentle exfoliation daily with a body brush before showering is an excellent and inexpensive method of exfoliation. Dry body brushing will also stimulate the natural oil production of the skin along with the lymphatic system which helps with the detoxification process of the body. Dry body brushing with a natural bristle brush every day will make your skin glow, removing dry skin, alleviating the appearance of KP and cellulite and contributing to the restoration of moist, supple skin. Dry body brushing has been used for years because the health benefits are so extensive, not only for our skin which is our largest organ but also for stimulation of our internal organs and assistance with the detoxification process.
Other benefits of dry body brushing are:
- assists with the reduction of keratosis pilaris and cellulite
- cleanses the lymphatic system
- removes dead skin layers
- strengthens the immune system
- stimulates the hormones and oil-producing glands
- tightens the skin preventing premature ageing
- tones the muscles when used in conjunction with regular exercise
- stimulates the circulation
- improves the function of the nervous system
- helps aid digestion
Follow dry body brushing in the shower with BION Naturally Clean Body Wash which will not dry the skin but will help to slough off dry dead skin cells and will leave the skin clean without being stripped of its natural moisturising factors. The natural antioxidant benefits of citrus peel and green tea extract work with Vitamin B5 to counteract surface bacteria and help soothe skin irritation. Naturally Clean provides mild exfoliation, sebum control and improved skin tone. The addition of 8 essential oils moisturizes the skin while you cleanse. The clean and refreshing citrus aroma creates a pleasurable shower experience. pH 4.5
An application of either AHAVA Dermud (Relieves painfully dry, itchy, bumpy, scaling skin with a mineral-enriched body cream made with Dead Sea mud. Its powerful, natural ingredients lock moisture in so skin feels rejuvenated and smooth again. Therapeutic Dead Sea mud helps reduce inflammation to soften and soothe skin. Dermud is a long-lasting cream formula made with jojoba seed oil sealing in moisture while Vitamin E helps protect skin cells to provide lasting hydration) or BION’s Glycolic Cream (The 20% glycolic acid and the intense softening agents help to exfoliate, smooth and soften rough skin. Thick, damaged and unsightly bumps and callouses on the arms, feet, elbows and knees are transformed to give a smooth appearance and feel along with providing both antibacterial and antioxidant benefits).
Some of the no-no’s to avoid when trying to treat keratosis pilaris are coconut-based ingredients, hot showers and do not pick the bumps.
Adhering to a dedicated daily routine of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising your skin is the most effective way to combat and overcome the signs and symptoms of keratosis pilaris
The Lymphatic System and the Skin
Clear, refined, fresh, even-toned, glowing skin is the ultimate desire for all of us who love our skin. To assist with achieving these results, exfoliation is a fundamental technique. Exfoliation comes in many forms and will ultimately help to reduce surface debris, dryness and a lacklustre appearance. It will also effectively prep the skin to receive key ingredients from serums, and treatment creams and will stimulate cell turnover and renewal.
Exfoliation can be in the form of either mechanical or chemical. Often when these techniques are combined the results are exponential. Chemical exfoliation will take the form of either a progressive, mid-depth or deep peel in the clinic.
While at home it may be with the daily application of an AHA/BHA (glycolic, mandelic, lactic, salicylic acid) serum, or Vitamin A serum, after cleansing and toning. Some of the better mechanical exfoliation treatments available in the clinic room are Microdermabrasion, JetPeel, Ultrasonic Deep Clean, Dermaplaning and Micro-hydrabrasion. Home techniques include the use of gauze with toning lotion after cleansing or a scrub.
Today we will look at a few of the in Clinic mechanical exfoliation techniques.
Focused on restoration and hydration, the JetPeel facial assists with making your skin red carpet ready. This gentle but effective treatment is a needle-free, pain-free, non-invasive aesthetic procedure incorporating the benefits of lymphatic drainage, exfoliation, intense hydration and oxygen infusion, all without downtime. This detoxifying exfoliation ritual dramatically improves the texture and appearance of the skin using a moisturising, oxygenated jet stream to resurface and then hydrate. It also uses pressurised oxygen to penetrate the skin with microdroplets of a cocktail of serums including hyaluronic acid, peptides and antioxidants. JetPeel is suitable for all skin types including mature, dry, rosacea, sensitive/reactive, and clogged skins.
The Ultrasonic Deep Cleaning treatment offers no downtime, is pain-free and is an effective procedure where ultrasound technology creating vibrations up to 28k hertz will gently remove keratinised skin cells and debris. The result when used in conjunction with a chemical exfoliant is nothing short of a dramatically smooth and radiant complexion. The Ultrasonic vibration can also create temporary open channels in the outer layers of the skin to infuse serums to boost the hydration and regeneration of the skin.
Microdermabrasion works on the outermost layers of the skin and is a skin-freshening technique that helps to repair skin on the face and body, which has taken a beating from the sun and the effects of ageing. Microdermabrasion polishes and buffs the skin to achieve a healthy glow and helps alleviate dull, dry and coarse-textured skin. It stimulates the production of collagen and elastin and may be used in conjunction with chemical exfoliation. It is also an excellent treatment to remove the rough skin of keratosis pilaris found on the upper arms and shoulders.
Dermaplaning is most beneficial for those with an uneven texture, hyperkeratotic build-up, vellus hair (also known as peach fuzz) and to remove surface skin cells so topical serums may penetrate more efficiently. Dermaplaning is a light shaving of the epidermis using a specific scalpel and should be performed by a well-trained aesthetician.
Similar to microdermabrasion, Micro-hydrabrasion is a clinical vacuuming system that exfoliates surface dryness with aluminium oxide crystals. In addition, streams of filtered water and aloe vera are used to achieve deep cleansing, helping to loosen impacted plugs in the skin and wash away soluble debris, whilst leaving your skin hydrated.
Depending on your skin condition and what you are wanting to achieve, any of these mechanical exfoliation treatments may be undertaken every week as a corrective strategy or every month as maintenance. They may be combined with relaxing facial treatments, clinical peels and/or LED light therapy. Clinical exfoliation treatments are like a workout for your skin by accelerating cell renewal, refining the texture, stimulating the tone and simply keeping your skin looking healthy and radiant all year round.