Be Happy In Your Own Skin

I have been in the Beauty and Wellness industry for 40 years and ever since I was a teenager, I have been passionate about skin care. Luckily for me when going through the perils of teenage acne, there was no such thing as social media or insta filters and even glossy magazines with their over edited cover photos were limited back then.

Skin is our bodies absolute hero protective system. It is the largest organ of the body and works its socks off to keep us safe from external environmental harm such as pathogens (germs of any sort).

Our skin sheds constantly and replaces itself approximately every 30 days. Did you know lose a whopping 40,000 skin cells every day? These skin cells get washed down the plughole when we shower but obviously not all are got rid of that way, a lot of the dust in our home is made up off dead skin cells.

Here is a bit of technical science stuff.

Our skin has 3 distinct parts.

The EPIDERMIS is the top part we see. This comprises of a protein called keratin and is 0.05-1mm think depending on the part of the body. The epidermis is also subdivided into 5 distinct layers with the top layer called the stratum corneum, commonly known as the horn layer but I’m not keen on that term, it is because keratin is what also makes up rhino horns and elephant tusks the cells are just packed together differently. In the deeper layers of the epidermis are melanocytes, these cells give our skin its colour. The more melanin we have the darker our skin and the more protection we have from UV rays.

This marvellous organ protects us in a number of ways: –

*Firstly, it protects against infection by being slightly acidic. We secrete a substance called sebum from a gland that sits on the side of the hair follicle within the DERMIS (true skin below epidermis). This is our natural oil and lubricant for the skin and hair. This oil mixes with a small amount of water and salts that we sweat out through minute pores that open onto the skins surface. Together these form our acid mantle which is about 5.5 on the pH scale. Bacteria, fungal spores, and viruses do not thrive in acidity, so this is our natural surface defence. If we use too harsh products to clean our skin we risk destroying our natural pH balance and allow pathogens in.

 *Sensory nerve endings within the skin help us be aware of our surroundings. We can feel if something is too hot or cold, is sharp and will injure us or is soft and safe to touch or walk on.

*Skin also plays a vital role in temperature regulation. When we are too hot the tiny blood vessels on the surface of the skin dilate (open up and come to the surface) making us look flushed and the skin feels warm to touch. This process allows heat to escape through the skins surface. We may feel roasting hot, but our internal organs are kept at an optimal temperature of 37 degrees. Likewise, if it’s too cold outside these tiny blood vessels constrict and move away from the skin surface. Our skin feels cold to touch but all the heat is kept within the bodies core. In addition, when we are cold the tiny hairs found all over our body stand up (goose pimples) trapping air as an extra thermal layer to keep us warm.

*Production of vitamin D. This vitamin is produced within the skin when exposed to sunlight. This is important for bone and hormonal health.

Below the EPIDERMIS and DERMIS is the SUBCUTANEOUS layer. This is a fatty layer that sits on top of our muscles. This layer offers further protection as it acts as a cushion between skin and muscles to help prevent muscle damage if we knock or fall and hurt ourselves. It is also an important store of fat-soluble vitamins ADK&E.

Now we have a bit of an insight into how our skin serves us let’s look at how we can do our bit to help our skin stay healthy.

Our skin is made from an estimated staggering 10 trillion cells in total, so it needs a lot of energy from nutrients to constantly create new cells. The only way we can ensure our skin has the best possible chance to make that number of healthy cells is through lifestyle, diet, and nutrition.

Let’s start with water, vital to every cell in our body and the only way to keep our cells hydrated is to drink plenty. If you don’t like plain water fine, flavour it but drink lots of non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic liquids every day.

The saying “we are what we eat” is true to a certain extent, our bodies need nutrient rich foods, and this includes fats. Healthy plant-based fats from nuts, seeds and avocados are a must. A fat free diet is the quickest way to age skin and plays havoc with our joints too. We need a broad range of food to get all our amino acids, these are our cells building blocks and found in protein rich foods and are vital to skin growth and repair.

Vitamins and minerals are also essential for healthy cell renewal and are found in fruits, veg and grains. We need a wide and varied range daily to ensure we are getting enough. The body doesn’t respond to synthetic vitamins from pills and infusions in the same way it does from eating healthy food as our gut plays an important role in vitamin absorption. The government guidelines now say we should get between 5-10 portions of fruit and veg every day.

 So that’s the inside stuff, what about protecting the skins surface?

 Well, the obvious one is to wear sunscreen, sun damage is both ageing and dangerous. Over exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. We also may live in a hard water area which changes our skins pH and can aggravate many skin conditions. Use gentle cleansers and body washes when you bath or shower and use a perfume free moisturiser to lubricate and hydrate the skin.

The skin on your face is usually more sensitive to that on the rest of your body, use products that are free from artificial colour or perfume as these will sensitise skin overtime. Stick to a range you know and get advice from a recommended Beauty Therapist if you are not sure of the best products for you. The skin doesn’t actually absorb very much in the way of products and only absorbs substances that contain very small molecules. Lightweight non oily products that contain natural essential oils (which have small molecules) are best.

Sleep and stress all play a part in healthy skin. Our skin renews itself while we sleep, we all recognise that sleep deprived face in the mirror that sometimes greets us, with puffy eyes and dull skin. Constant stress, always running on adrenaline not having proper time each day to unwind, all takes its toll and can show up on the skin in several ways. It can exacerbate conditions like acne, psoriasis and eczema.

The best de stress and oxygen therapy for your skin is to get out and walk in the fresh air and to take some long slow deep breaths which lower stress levels while re oxygenating every cell in your body. This is an all-round great way to lower stress levels and boost our circulation. The better our circulation the greater chance all our cells have of doing their job well.

Many of us, if asked would choose to change something about the way our skin looks, be it the colour or texture. Many want to look younger, have tanned skin, want freckles, or don’t want freckles or want lighter skins. It seems that with everyone using filters on all their socials no one is actually happy with the amazing wrapper that is our skin and keeping us safe.

Think about these 10 trillion skin cells all doing a great job of keeping you alive and healthy and thank your skin for the awesome job it is doing. Before you reach for expensive products to use on the outside make sure you are doing your bit for team skin cells and showing your skin some love by eating healthy, keeping hydrated, taking some time out to de stress and then adding in some much needed pampering from a qualified skin therapist.

Learn to embrace your flaws, skin imperfections show how hard your skin has been working on your behalf. Love and appreciate your skin ❤️