Inflammation, premature signs of aging and acne may be warning signs that your skin is out of balance. Even if you routinely clean your face and wear SPF, there are other internal and external factors that we often ignore and which can throw your skin off balance.
The health of your skin’s microbiome
Microbes on the skin surface influence the behavior of cells below the epidermis. A healthy skin microbiome protects against infection in the same way a good gut microbiome does, by crowding out overgrowth of pathogenic organisms.*
The skin microbiome prefers a relatively acidic environment (pH is around 5.0), which also inhibits growth of pathogens. When the microbiome is out of line, the immune system can release various antimicrobial peptides such as cathelicidin to help balance things out. Likewise, when good bacteria is present on your skin, this can inhibit the release of inflammatory compounds from the immune system.
A healthy microbiome aids in wound healing, limits exposure to allergens and UV radiation, minimizes oxidative damage, and keeps the skin plump and moist.
When we overuse skincare products, in particular cleansers, we can make our microbiome unstable, which has a similar effect to deforestation on an already delicate ecosystem. Excessive cleaning causes an imbalance of bacteria that can make your skin more prone to acne, rosacea, or even eczema and cirrhosis.
When it comes to your skin microbiome, diversity is good for your skin, as it helps it rebound from everyday stressors. Promote the growth of healthy bacteria on your skin by avoiding products that have a drying effect, like antimicrobial soaps.
Your cleansing regime
Cleansing helps increase the efficacy of other products like your serum and anti-aging formulas; remove the build up of dead cells, excess sebum, cosmetics and dirt that accumulates on the surface layer of your skin throughout the day and night; and unclog your pores to give your skin the ability to breathe and rejuvenate.
When it comes to cleansing your skin, both how and when are important factors to keep in mind. How often to cleanse continues to be a controversial topic, although most derms agree that over cleansing can dry out your skin, along with wiping out beneficial good bacteria.
In order for cleansers to provide skin-care benefits, they first must minimize surfactant damage to skin proteins and lipids. Secondly, they must deposit and deliver beneficial agents such as occlusives, skin lipids, and humectants under wash conditions to improve skin hydration, as well as mechanical and visual properties.
Skin products formulated with natural oils work best regardless of your skin type, because they are similar in structure to the skin’s lipid layer, and they are much gentler than detergents. When these natural oils are combined in a solution that is slightly acidic, they result in a gentle formula that your skin will naturally respond to.
Exfoliation may be another step in your cleansing regime, especially if you often experience sign of dryness like scales and flaky skin. Though exfoliating will slough away loose patches on the spot, that rough treatment can actually disrupt the barrier that balances moisture in the skin.
Instead of scrubbing away your face with the latest coffee-, turmeric- or charcoal-based scrub, soothe dryness with hydration. Fragrance-free lotions and moisturizing creams that use a low moisture (LoMo™) approach will help your skin to produce more of its own natural moisture, both on and below the surface.
Recent studies suggest that chronic high exposure to air pollutants have been associated with premature skin aging and inflammatory or allergic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
If you live in an area with a higher concentration of air pollutants, try to limit your exposure and select skincare with antioxidant properties to help fight free radicals.
Our body produces free radicals as part of our metabolic processes. These particles are atoms that create a chain reaction of chemical changes within our body. When we have an overload of those chemical changes, it can result in damage to our cells sometimes leading to serious illnesses like cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Antioxidants act as a buffer between our body and free radicals. Scientific studies have proved the effectiveness of antioxidants in reducing wrinkles and rosacea, and even preventing skin cancer.
Along with many foods like fruit and vegetables, certain herbs, spices and essential oils derived from nutrient-dense plants are extremely high in healing antioxidant compounds. Here are some antioxidants you should look for when choosing your skin care products:
- Astaxanthin: A carotenoid (carotene pigment) found in algae that functions as a potent antioxidant. This antioxidant is 6,000 times more powerful than Vitamin C! Research also suggests that astaxanthin may be able to prevent the oxidative damage to skin after exposure to UVA radiation. We use Astaxanthin in: #6 Rewind.
- Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract: A powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties when used topically. Current research also indicates that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), Green Tea’s active component, can prevent collagen breakdown and reduce UV damage to skin. We use Green Tea Leaf Extract in: #4 Restore #5 Repair.
- Totarol: An extract from the heartwood of the New Zealand native Totara tree, this powerful nature-sourced antioxidant helps fight oxidative stress and free-radical damage to the skin. We use Totarol in most of our products: #1 Prepare #2 Fortify #3 Protect #4 Restore.
- Harakeke Seed Oil: Phormium Tenax (Harakeke) Seed Oil is nature's super skin hydrator, rich with with natural antioxidants and polysaccharides. It naturally soothes, hydrates and cools, reducing puffiness and redness. We use Harakeke Seed Oil in: #1 Prepare #2 Fortify #3 Protect #5 Repair.
- Bakuchiol: This antioxidant is found in the seeds of the plant psoralea corylifolia (commonly known as the Babchi plant). Bakuchiol has a retinol-like effect on the skin without the risk of irritation and photosensitivity. We use Bakuchiol in: #5 Repair #6 Rewind.
- Phenyl t-Butylnitrone: This advanced antioxidant is one of the new buzz ingredients in the skin care world. An antioxidant that falls into the category called 'spin traps'. It catches the free radicals and stops them before they do any damage. This is different to other antioxidants that react with the free radicals and convert them into water after they have begun the damage. We use Phenyl t-Butylnitrone in: #4 Restore.