Do you love the way your skin looks? Or do you take a look in the mirror and want change? Perhaps it’s something simple such as texture or tone and vibrancy (or lack of it) that you want to change. Are those imperfections which you see daily a menace, or do you embrace them?
Are you a wrinkle warrior and consider the lines and wrinkles that appear with age are just as much a part of who you are, or do you have a standing appointment at the injectable clinic and no matter what occurs, that appointment is never going to be cancelled?
Did you worship the sun years ago, and now you’re paying the price with hyperpigmentation, age spots, and liver spots that are now visible and you wish you’d listened to your mum to wear that SPF, day in day out, all year round. Maybe you just look at your nana and thank your lucky stars that you’ve inherited her genes…
So many factors affect the way our skin looks, the way it changes, the way it reacts. The seasons and weather, lifestyle, hormones, stress levels, our everyday environment, and finally the natural progression of age combined with the gruesome gravity all have a daily impact on our skin. It can be both positive and negative.
So how do you learn to love the skin you’re in? Protect it, take care of it, and give it the best fighting chance to remain as youthful, for as long as possible.
Impact – Free Radical Attack, temperature control and environmental exposure
Look around you, what do you see? Is your everyday environment a clean living or work environment? Is where you live full of fresh air and plenty of daylight? Or is your skin over-exposed to heat, steam, pollution, and grime? Consider both where you live and where you work -- if you cannot wait to get home to wash away the day, it’s likely that your daily work environment isn’t great. The amount of pollution our skin picks up throughout the day, as well as the natural skin secretions, can leave us feeling that we have a film of dust, dirt, grease, and grime on our skin. Your commute can also affect the pollution landing on your skin every day. The issue with pollution is that so little of it is visible to the naked eye, so it’s likely that you certainly don’t always recognise its immediate effects.
But what is pollution? Why do therapists, skin care experts and dermatologists constantly talk about free radicals and antioxidants? Is it really necessary for you to have a serum or moisturiser power packed with antioxidants? The blunt answer is yes!
Free Radicals attack the skin 24/7 and can be destructive to your skin and its genetic make-up. An unstable molecule which searches out other atoms or molecules with electrons to make them whole again. In their search for their new best friend to make them whole, free radicals can attack skin cells, DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. This is frequently called free radical damage, oxidative stress, or oxidative damage.
Visualise an apple that you’re ready for a snack and decide to chop an apple into quarters, but then get distracted and leave it on the side. When you return to to the apple, it has turned brown as the exposure to the atmosphere without its protective skin has left it vulnerable to oxidation. This similarity, although less immediate and visual, is of a similar impairment which occurs to our skin when under free radical attack.
So how can you avoid free radical damage? Free radicals are everywhere. It can be in the atmosphere, it can also be created from certain foods we eat, and even your skin even engineers them itself as part of the natural ageing process. In short, they’re everywhere and attacking your skin all the time.
So how do we avoid them? Well, that’s a tough question as they are so prolific. A poor and unvaried diet, smoking, excess alcohol and over exposure to UV rays are high up on the listing of factors which increase the risk of free radical attack and premature ageing. And it’s not like you can move the office and avoid the commute to work to help protect your skin.
It’s how the attack appears on our skin, which isn’t visible until usually many years later rather than immediately. Take UV radiation and over sun exposure as an example -- it could be that you naturally have high levels of melanin in your skin, with your skin tone being a beautiful deep, dark brown, or your melanin levels are lower, so your skin shade is light and pale. Genetics, where we live, and ethnicity all play a part in the volume of melanin in your skin. Yet its function, no matter what your colour, is the same. It’s the skins natural protective pigmentation, but for most of us our melanin kickstarts into action as soon as we go into the sun. Your skin’s natural defence to prevent sunburn, so likely your skin goes a little pink or brown. But with excessive over exposure your skin can deeply redden. Once the suntan or even sunburn subside, you may think your skin has returned to normal because on the surface, it can appear that it has. However, the damage lurks beneath the surface. Multiple sunburns over time also increases the risk of DNA damage to cells. As we age, the long-term effects of that historic sunburn can show as visible mars on our skin, often referred to as hyperpigmentation or age spots.
With over sun exposure, we also have to consider that the UV radiation can occur in cold climate too. Ever been skiing? You’ve been out on the slopes for hours, having the best time, but when you return to your chalet, you’ve got a goggle face! All from the reflection of the sun of the snow…
Speaking of temperature changes, a maintained temperature control is something that your skin loves -- a consistent environment with no exposure to extremes of heat. All the seasons all play a part in the way our skin behaves. Humidity levels can play havoc with our skin, making it feel oiler and appear shinier one minute, then a few months later, the sensation of dehydration and a parched skin suddenly appear. Skin is clever and adaptable, so although no major crisis occurs and a resolution can easily be found with a few changes to your daily skincare regime for most, for some the outcome is not so easily managed. Sensitive, sensitised, and fragile skins can feel the effects of temperature change more readily and they don’t adapt so easily as a combination skin type. Once more if your daily lifestyle includes large amounts of time in the great outdoors, the likelihood years later of more broken capillaries, a ruddy complexion or extra sensitivity and fragility can be expected. It could be that you just reside in the countryside, copious amounts of fresh air, very little air pollution and daily exposure to the elements and howling winds or maybe it’s your hobbies that affect your skin, an avid gardener, golfer or dog walker…
So, what’s the solution? Firstly, going into combat with free radicals is the best option, for your general health and life longevity too. Reducing the volume of alcohol, smoking and high content sugar and processed foods in your diet is the number one place to start. Cooking from scratch so you know what going in, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and pulses will have an impact as these foods are laden with natural antioxidants. A varied diet is key. Taking a vitamin supplement can also be beneficial, and of course your skincare needs to be fighting the oxidative stress daily on your behalf.
Protection is key and using skincare ingredients which are antioxidant rich, packed with natural fatty acids, always give you a hydration boost, and target the already visible signs of ageing daily are essential. The key is to target the damage both throughout the daytime and also during the night when your skin naturally repairs itself.
The most loved and well-known antioxidant is Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), which is thought of as the ultimate skin scavenger at neutralising those free radicals! Ascorbic acid is renowned for its targeting of hyperpigmentation too, however that’s not the only skin concern that vitamin C addresses.
We know that we deplete collagen from our bodies from as young as in our mid-twenties, but did you know that the body is made up of more than 30% collagen and your skin is thought to be made up of over 70% collagen and water? Combine the natural deletion process of collagen, the effects that our lifestyle has on the skin, and a few free radicals everyday thrown in for good measure and the necessity for vitamin C enriched skincare is screamingly clear.
What’s most annoying is that we do not create vitamin C naturally, we only obtain it through our diet and supplementation, either topically or orally. So, unless you are eating a totally balanced diet including plenty of leafy greens, broccoli, and oranges (example of natural sources of vitamin C), our bodies may not be receiving enough to support the systems overall health. However, skin, the largest organ of the body, yet the last to be fed with anything nutritional from the body will very likely thank you by glowing if you use vitamin C in your daily routine. Vitamin C works on neutralizing the free radicals it maintains skin health and replenishes vitamin E content in the skin too. In conclusion it works on the visibility of pigment in your surface skin by inhibiting the irregular production of melanin, thus making the appearance of skin colour appear more even. Research also identifies that vitamin C may have a role to play in the natural collagen forming process.
Retinol (Vitamin A), what’s not to love about this powerhouse skincare ingredient? Not only does it help to neutralise free radical attack, but it’s the queen of fine line and wrinkle reducing retinoids – which all come as derivatives from vitamin A. One of the most sought-after ingredients within anti-ageing skincare, retinol helps to restore, smooth the visible appearance of wrinkles, and brighten via the removal of dead skin cells. It’s also thought to assist in the restoration of elasticity in collagen depleted skin.
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Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) This super skin-restoring ingredient has multiple benefits for all skin types. Known for its anti-ageing properties, Niacinamide improves the appearance of enlarged pores, targets fine lines, uneven skin tone and helps to repair an impaired barrier function. It also helps with an uneven skin texture, and it brightens and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier at the same time too! It is also found in many of our food sources, so if you’re tackling oxidative stress from the inside and out, niacinamide is found in meat, fish, milk, green vegetables, cereal grains, and delicious fruits such as avocados.
Turmeric (Curcumo Longo Root Extract) Related to ginger, this golden spice is a super scavenging antioxidant and an everyday essential which can be used in your recipes and most definitely in your skincare routine. Both antibacterial and antiseptic, breakouts are long-gone with a daily application of turmeric. A super antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is definitely the anti-oxidant to reach for as it helps to soothe and normalise when your lifestyle triggers sensitivity in your skin, as it will promote a healthier and calmer looking skin. Turmeric off sets the signs of environmental damage and aims to boost the skin’s hyaluronic acid content too, leaving skin radiant and hydrated with a calmer looking appearance.
Support and protect
So, while we’re fighting the daily free-radical attack, we also need to protect and repair. We need to help the skin to restore balance, rejuvenate and rehydrate. This means taking care of the skin’s natural protective barrier, the microbiome. When you’re adding your antioxidants into your skincare routine, consider the additional benefits your skin could gain if you added some probiotic skincare too -- they’re great skincare products for all skin types suffering from dehydration, dullness, hormonal changes, and problematic skin which needs additional support. Probiotics help to repair the natural protective shield of the skin aka your microbiome, which is your skins natural defence to protect against lifestyle stress, signs of ageing, daily free radical attack, all which age us. Improving skin moisture and strength, Probiotic skincare delivers a renewed skin vibrancy.
Using the method of hydrolysis, which is a water molecule is added to the substance to rupture the chemical bond, Hydrolysed Yest protein is obtained from the hydrolysis of amino acids, peptides, and proteins. It becomes is a unique mix of flavonoids, sugars, vitamins, and amino acids which make it a multitasker, hence its ability to work on multiple skin types. While probiotic skincare can strengthen the good bacteria and natural skins natural defences, there’s an additional daily defence which cocoons the skin like an invisible shield, at the same time as hydration levels rise.
Going back to basics, your skin is a total workaholic as it is highly effective, both a protective and receptive barrier. Functioning every nano second, your skin’s function never sleeps or turns off as it is the largest living organ of the body. Fundamentally it works to protect, but if you visualise your skin as its very own island, it has its own population of bacteria working to protect its environment and defences. With its own climate and temperature control, think of your goose bumps and how your hair stands up on edge and its colour changes when you’re either too hot or too cold. For example, how your body gets warm after a workout when the blood is pumping and you have the tell-tale sign red cheeks, or when you travel to warmer weather and in those initial couple of days, the extreme of heat can feel unbearable -- yet as your skin starts to climatise and modify, you feel more comfortable in the sun. Our skin secretes waste, again when we’re hot and we perspire, with natural sebum or oils secreting to keep skin supple and healthy. It’s made up of multiple layers and can be affected by hormones, diet, the environment, the list is vast of how intrinsically your skin performs 24/7.
Supporting your island skin is vital.
We’re more than aware today of the role we all play in making the environment better -- we know what a carbon footprint is, we’re versed on global warming and the effects of rain forest devastation, the earth, and the bigger picture of how we maintain our planet. We recycle, buy cars with lower carbon emissions, or go totally electric. We think about our food whether its sustainable, organic, both naturally and locally grown. But do we think about our skin and the effect our everyday environment impacts it, both now and in years to come? It’s under free-radical attack, and it is time we fought back.