Why Is It Important To Have Healthy Skin?
The term “Healthy Skin” is often used in the skin care industry for aesthetic reasons. Radiance and softness appeals to one’s eye. But what really is healthy skin, and why is it important to have it?
YOUR PROTECTIVE SKIN BARRIER AND HOW TO PROTECT IT
Your skin barrier consists of the acid mantle of sebum and perspiration. The harder outer skin proteins formed from dried and flattened skin cells, and the underlying mixture of cells and protein fibers. Scientific results emphasized the importance of a healthy skin barrier.
Healthy skin has a strong resistance to damage and irritation.
DAMAGE TO THE SKIN BARRIER AND SKIN CONDITIONS
When the skin’s barrier is compromised, damage can occur that can produce the following:
- Bacterial infections (acne)
- Virus infections (cold sores)
- Fungal infections (athlete’s foot)
- Blotches and rashes
- Less skin repair and more rapid untimely aging
Skin pH is a chemist’s term for Potential of Hydrogen. Many skin care companies taught how wonderful their products will “make your pH balance”, but most people don’t fully realize what “pH” really means.
Potential of Hydrogen is used to measure the acidity or alkaline in the “outer” layer of your skin, (your barrier). Without getting into scientific rhetoric, your skin needs a neutral acid level. A healthy acid level protects the skin in many ways.
Antioxidant-lipids (fats) are oxidized to protect the skin from excessive oxidation. This is why “whiteheads,” which are oxidized sebum (natural oil in pores), turn into “blackheads” as the sebum is oxidized (hits natural light).
Water Repellent – A healthy skin barrier keeps water retained, making the skin less vulnerable to dehydration from environmental factors such as sun and wind. This should be more of a concern for people with an outdoor active/sports lifestyle.
Bacterial Inhibition – A healthy acid balance (pH) keeps skin healthier with less blemishes.
CERTAIN SOAPS CAN DAMAGE THE SKIN BARRIER
Mainstream soaps have a higher than normal alkaline, thus, leading to a higher pH level. Inexpensive soaps with synthetic ingredients (actually detergents) strip away the mantle and protective keratin proteins. This makes the skin more vulnerable to the above mentioned damage to the skin barrier.
INCREASING SKIN CELL TURNOVER
A key to maintaining a healthy skin barrier is increasing skin cell turnover. Good cell turnover keeps a wonderful constant flow of cells moving “outward” in the skin with a fresh supply of outer skin proteins replacing the old cells.
Exercise is a key factor for healthy skin cell turnover. Avid exercisers have a higher dead skin cell turnover rate. The dead, older cells need to be removed so other topical nutrients (moisturizers & serums) can better penetrate into the skin barrier. Retinoic acid can be irritating to some persons skin, so natural hydroxy acids and exfoliants prove to be effective and gentle to the skin barrier.
LET YOUR NATURAL BACTERIA PROTECT YOU!
Bacteria is not as horrible as you think. Normal skin has a small amount of bacteria. This normally harmless bacteria protects you from disease causing harmful bacteria by filling the niches in your skin’s environment that harmful bacteria could occupy. Although a not so fabulous word – don’t worry so much about a small amount of bacteria.
I must stress how regular aerobic exercise improves skin’s healthy barrier. It remarkably improves skin quality. Exercise increases blood capillary density in the skin and improves the nutrition of cells. However, exercising 4-6 times a week will counteract the benefit if all else is not taken care. Nurture your skin barrier!
Sandy Alcide’s articles have been featured in notable magazines and websites. Sandy is the founder of Motion Medica skin care www.motionmedica.com and the President of the American Athletic Skin Care Association, raising awareness for the rise of melanoma among outdoor athletes. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.