Research over the decades has established that managing skin injuries lead to healthy, glowing and youthful skin. Most skin issues, such as dryness, flakiness, redness, eruptions, and wrinkles, are side effects of a common problem – neglected and untreated skin injuries. Treating the symptoms provides temporary relief, but does not solve the root problem.
How are skin injuries caused?
Three forces of nature and life cause skin injuries, and they are:
- Physical forces, such as mechanical injury, UV-radiation, heat, excessive moisture, pressure, or friction;
- Chemical forces, such as solvents, irritants, or allergens; and
- Microbial forces, such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses;
Can we reduce the causes of skin injuries?
To an extent. It is impossible to control the physical forces, except for exposure to UV radiation. A better understanding of the ingredients in skincare and makeup products can reduce the impact of chemical forces. And regular use of antibacterial and antimicrobial products can control microbial forces.
To understand the secret of perfect skin, we need to understand the needs of our skin.
Our skin has self-defense mechanisms. These mechanisms create a tightly regulated process for wound healing. Ageing and lifestyle choices weaken these defense mechanisms, but we can empower and supplement the strength of these mechanisms by nourishing our skin with proven ingredients.
Our skin needs only four types of ingredients.
1 of 4: Antioxidants for Free Radicals
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) is a reactive chemical containing oxygen. We refer to ROS as free radicals because ROS is the most abundantly found free radical. ROS is a natural by-product of metabolism and an essential part of our nervous system, but high quantities of ROS can damage surrounding tissues, alter proteins, damage DNA, and even promote cancer.
Over-exposure to UV-radiation / sunlight increases ROS production. The skin’s natural defense mechanisms generate antioxidants to control the quantity of ROS on the skin. This leads to inflammation of the skin. Ingredients with antioxidant properties can supplement the skin’s ability to regulate ROS. For this reason, sunscreens contain antioxidants.
2 of 4: Lipids for Skin Barrier Function
The skin barrier function refers to the skin's ability to keep moisture locked-in and environmental irritants (like pollution and bacteria) out. Several factors can damage the skin barrier function, including cold weather, hormonal fluctuations, and lipid-lowering drugs. Lipid-lowering drugs are the number one prescribed class of drugs in the United States. Damaged skin barrier function also makes the signs of ageing more visible.
Dry skin is a symptom of a damaged skin barrier function. Dry skin is prone to skin reactions, such as rashes, itchiness, redness and flaking. These reactions make the skin sensitive. Sensitive skin is not a natural skin type and nobody is born with sensitive skin. Dry skin, skin reactions and sensitive skin are symptoms of a greater problem - damaged skin barrier function.
Moisturizers protect the skin from further damage and hyaluronic acid keeps water in the skin. They may create an environment to rebuild the skin barrier function, but the skin needs lipids to rebuild the barrier function. Natural oils can replenish the skin with lipids. Linoleic acid is one of the most significant lipids, and safflower oil has the highest concentration of linoleic acid among natural oils.
3 of 4: Anti-Microbial Protection
Microbes penetrate damaged skin and cause infections. Fungi cause most skin infections. Cleaning skin with anti-microbial solutions regularly can prevent infection. Even if you don’t have visible skin infections, use anti-microbial solutions as a precaution.
4 of 4: Permeability Enhancers
These ingredients make the skin more permeable. Our body does not produce permeability enhancers, but skincare products use permeability enhancers to deliver other ingredients to deeper layers of the skin. It is a marvel in modern medicine, but there is a downside risk to the benefit – these ingredients may make it harder for sensitive skin to heal naturally. The most common permeability enhancer is oleic acid. Natural oils have tremendous skincare benefits, but some of them also contain oleic acid. A handful of natural oils are beneficial for sensitive skin.
Our skin changes all the time - from changes in sleeping patterns, stress levels, exposure to the sun, and indoor climate, among others. So, it is practically impossible to find out precisely what our skin lacks every time.
With the knowledge of skin’s needs, you can identify an elegant and holistic skincare routine for all conditions. You can now declutter skincare and focus on a single goal that matters – empowering skin for faster and stronger wound healing. In a nutshell, you need to:
- Cleanse regularly with anti-microbial protection.
- Use antioxidants to regulate free radicals.
- Keep skin hydrated and repair skin barrier function.
- Control usage of permeability enhancers on sensitive skin.
Think of products with ingredients around these pointers – products which work for you, products you love. It is time to make skincare personal again!