The best way we can help our skin to remain radiant and healthy looking is by ensuring these functions are supported and, where necessary, reinforced. The term ‘mimic’ is gaining credence in terms of skin care where ingredients are scientifically engineered to mimic skin’s natural defences.
Active ingredients are important and can be highly effective yet they are useless (and can even become irritants) if the first rule of healthy skin is neglected: proper protection and hydration.
RESPECT THE ACID MANTLE
Our skin’s acid mantle protects it from environmental aggressors. It also keeps TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss) at a natural healthy level, ensuring that the moisture content in our epidermis does not fall below the crucial 10% barrier.
Our skin cleansing procedures need to be mindful of this. Even washing our skin with plain water will wash away some of the Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF’s) contained in the acid mantle. Most soaps are designed to bind to oil; they will strip our natural sebum from the acid mantle leaving our skin open to dehydration and environmental damage.
A good cleansing product, whilst effectively removing grime, make up and excessive oils, must be gentle on the skin and must minimise any interference with the skin’s acid mantle.
EXFOLIATE – GENTLY
As we age the number of dead cells on the skin’s surface increases. These cells can leave the skin looking dull and lifeless.
Gentle exfoliation will remove dead skin cells without damage. Mechanical exfoliation utilises abrasive ingredients. Some, like crushed shells of nuts, cut nylon or aluminium oxide, have sharp edges and can cause micro-injuries on the skin.
Jojoba Wax balls are a gentle yet effective biodegradable alternative: they are spherical, without sharp edges and therefore won’t damage the skin.
Exfoliation based on chemical acids has been popular for many decades. Industry experts now have come to the conclusion that regular application of acid containing skin care products may leave the skin in a constant state of micro- inflammation, leading to the formation of enzymes and free radicals that, in the long run, will lead to a breakdown of collagen and elastin.
Skin can only maintain its healthy functions if hydration levels are within normal range. Low sebum levels, our artificial environment, aggressive cleansers and even some moisturisers that are not up to their task will leave the epidermis dehydrated.
When the skin is dehydrated it is vulnerable to environmental aggressors. This invariably leads to inflammation, diffused redness and ultimately to premature aging.
The five main environmental dangers to healthy skin: mechanical pressure, wind and weather, water, chemicals and bacteria. The hydrolipidic layer or acid mantle on the right side is broken, leaving the skin vulnerable. The result is inflammation, which leads to formation of free radicals and damaging enzymes, resulting in premature aging of the skin.