So, let’s talk a bit about skin,
I love working with people to help their skin, because secretly I get to help deeper issues, such as hormone imbalances and gut inflammation, which will improve your every day vibes and feels, and also you’re happy because you’re seeing results and changes in your skin, which is why people hmu initially. It’s like we both get to be fulfilled. (and classic selfish leo me haha)
Plus, skin is truely amazing, it’s our first line of defence and shows us what’s going on inside. I like to think of our skin as a snapshot of whats going on inside, as it signals potential deficiencies and imbalances.
And i think it’s predominantly just focused on being a beauty canvas, and something that triggers either insecurities or confidence, but it’s a living breathing, functioning organ system in itself, and deserves the time and effort internally, to work synergistically with what we apply externally.
SO LET’S GET INTO IT!!
For this post I’m just going to be zeroing in on our face skin, and acne/break outs, dryness, oily ness etc and how our lifestyle and nutrition plays a role.
In a nutshell, we have 3 layers of skin (epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layer) all of which require nutrients to maintain, repair and create their juiciness and function.
EPIDERMIS: THE PROTECTOR
The epidermis is the outer layer and protector, shielding us from toxins, UV rays, radiation and circling pathogens.
The epidermis contains
Keratinocytes, who produce keratin - which is responsible for our skins firmness
Melanocytes - who produce melanin - determining our skin colour and ability to tan, and
Langerhan cells who prevent invading pathogens from getting through our skin.
The epidermis also contains ceramides, a special fatty acid who helps hold our skin cells together and retain moisture.
DERMIS: THE ARCHITECT
The dermis layer contains our blood vessels, hair follicles, and oil glands - sebaceous glands.
It’s the sebaceous gland which also responds to hormonal activity and circulation, and hence why our skin tends to become oiler during puberty, around our cycle and with guys if they’re boosting testosterone.
The dermis also contains collagen and elastin - 2 key protein structures, and are responsible for how full, juicy and plump our skin in, and who sadly, begin to decline in production as young as 25!!!! (don’t worry we’ll get onto how to increase your natural collagen production later).
HYPODERMIS: THE INSULATOR
The hypodermic or subcutaneous layer acts like insulation, conserving our body heat, and also produces squalene - a lipid/fat that protects us from UV and radiation.
Our skin also has it’s very own microbiome (sometimes referred to as the triad), who balance the presence of fatty acids/oils in the skin, and also why, using skin products that contain harmful, microbiome disrupting ingredients like phthalates, tend to worsen skin, dry us out, as just one direct example (more on these later in the blog too!).
These 3 layers require nutrients (which is delivered via the blood vessels in the dermis layer) to repair and create new cells, as we lose something like 500 million cells each day.
Our skin is also one of the last places to receive these nutrients, hence why skin conditions tends to be a first signal of nutrient deficiencies.
We get these nutrients internally through our food, and externally through the products we may choose to put on.
SOME KEY SKIN LOVING NUTRIENTS INCLUDE:
Vitamin A - is involved in regulating skin cell life cycles, including apoptosis - which is programmed cell death and a good thing! it’s like if theres a damaged cell, vitamin A helps the cell switch on it’s “kill me” sign, thus, enabling new, un-damaged cells to spring forth. Vitamin A also enhances the repair of UV damaged skin and helps to balance the moisture and oil of skin, with vitamin A deficiency often manifesting dry, flaky skin.
Particularly rich in sweet potato, pumpkin, papaya, carrots, capsicum, eggs - pretty much all yellow and orange veggies, beef liver, and wild fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.
Vitamin C - is a potent antioxidant and helps to protect the lipids in our skin, like squalene from being damaged and oxidising, from the suns UV, pollutants, toxins, stress etc. breaking down our collagen structures and juiciness. Vitamin C is a wing-man of collagen synthesis and also recycles vitamin E, another antioxidant skin loving nutrient.
Foods rich include all your orange, red and yellow fruit and veg, camu camu and kakadu plum as a superfood, broccoli, chilli, pomegranates, all your citrus fruits!
Vitamin E - similar to vitamin C, vitamin E helps protect our skin cells from being damaged, and helps maintain strong, stable cellular membranes, preventing our skin from losing moisture and letting invaders in.
V.E rich foods include all your nuts and seeds, asparagus and eggs!
Zinc - is involved in new cell creation, and helps forms the cells of the epidermis (the ones that protect us). Zinc also is a must have ingredient for creating collagen, along with Vitamin C, and also helps to heal wounds like acne scars.
Zinc rich foods are your seafood like oysters and muscles, and also pumpkin seeds, high quality red meat, cashews, avocados.
Essential Fatty Acids (Omega’s) - these guys like vitamin A also help balance oils in the skin, are anti-inflammatory - with inflammation being a key stressor and breaking down collagen, zapping nutrients and oxidising cells.
EFA’s are our salmon and all your seafoods, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil,
We also have Vitamin D - who we get from the sun, who is a potent anti-inflammatory “hormone”/ vitamin, so can help reduce the inflammation experienced in eczema and psoriasis, as well as reduce systemic inflammation that may be driving break outs.
Vitamin B’s also are important for skin health, as they’re all involved in new cell creation - which we need when we’re replacing 500 million skin cells each day! In particular B2 Riboflavin can improve acne scars and you know when you had a pimple it’s left as like a white kind of spot? Yeah B2 can help make new cells to get rid of that.
B3 Niacin is great for helping to improve the condition of sun damaged and ageing skin, as well supporting the production of keratin - a key structural protein in our skin. It’s also shown to help improve water retention and thus juice non-flaky/dry skin.
B5 Pantothenic Acid also, works to improve water retention and elasticity in the skin :)
KEY ADAPTOGENS TO HLEP OUR SKIN:
Chaga Mushroom and Tremella Mushroom are both phenomenal for improving skin. Chaga is a potent antioxidant and essentially, internal sunscreen, increasing melanin in the skin protecting us from sun and UV damage. Tremella is crazy amazing at holding water in our skin, keeping us juicy, plump and hydrated - you’ll notice Tremella especially within a few days of taking it! (also use themillennialnutritionist at checkout for 10% off your Teelixir mushrooms!)
BUT in order to get them from our food, we have to have a functioning healthy gut to absorb nutrients, a healthy functioning liver to deliver these nutrients to our blood and thus, skin, and balanced hormones, so we’re not out of balance and experiencing the acne, excess oil and break outs that goes hand in hand with our hormone levels.
(I’ve linked previous blogs on gut health, hormone balancing and liver)
There’s also the concept of face mapping, and as much as i feel this is a somewhat useful tool to help us, it also always comes back to A) what are we putting in our body B) how are we taking care of ourselves. because eating shit food and not taking care of ourselves is going to = a shit digestive system, a congested liver, imbalanced hormones etc etc. and this is what we see in regards to face mapping as a diagnostic tool. Food and lifestyle influence everything.
But yeah the first step in improving your skin health is to really 1. heal your gut, which means OUT with the processed, ultra-refined, junk foods, alcohol, dairy and gluten, reducing that inflammation, and replacing these “foods” with nutrient dense whole foods, rich in these skin nutrients. Really focusing on
Green leafy’s - spinach, rocket, kale, lettuce, swiss chard etc.
Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts.
Vibrant veggies - sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, squash, capsicum, tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms.
High quality protein - our collagen and keratin are made up of amino acids, which come from protein. So grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, organic soy products, lupin, quinoa.
Healthy fats - chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, all your nuts, avocado, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil.
2. And then these foods will also work to support your liver function as well as help to balance your sex hormones, so it really is the foundation to your best skin. As well as looking at your lifestyle, with stress being a key driver of inflammation and skin issues.
I recommend writing a stress list, of anything and everything that you notice causes you stress, whether its finances, relationships, traffic, time, expectations, deadlines, uni, work whatever - write it down. Once you’ve created awareness around these, you can begin to delegate, remove or change your approach. If you need additional guidance, hit ya girl up and let’s work together xxx
SKIN CARE PRODUCTS & INGREDIENTS:
And now, lets talk about skin care products and ingredients. Because they come number 3 after actioning steps 1 and 2 in improving your diet and stress/lifestyle, and what we put on our skin can also either help or hinder it’s state.
There’s an abundance of products out there, it’s overwhelming to say the least, and all of them have amazing testimonials, before and afters, influencers promoting them, and so i want to just give you a few principles to consider when purchasing your skin care products, name a few brands that i personally use and love, as well as highlight the ingredients that hinder your skins balance and to avoid.
Skin care products can make us dewy, glowy, fresh faced angels, or it can disrupt the harmony and balance of our skin’s pH and microbiome and oils, as well as, be sex and thyroid hormone disrupting, with research showing consistent use of products that contain these ingredients promoting skin and breast cancer formation, fertility issues, immune activation, as well as actually causing your skin to age…. yikes!!!
The not-so-nice ingredients to look out for:
Phthalates like diethyl phthalate (DEP) - these are used as plasticisers in products, and are shown to induce an immune response, signal cell death of keratinocytes and fibroblasts - who make collagen and elastin. they too are endocrine disruptors and
Parabens like butylparaben & propylparaben, are linked to the increase of cancer and are xenoestrogens as well as anti-androgenic, as well as negatively influencing skin cell replication, hyaluronic acid and type IV collagen synthesis. AKA it makes you age, and also is linked to breast and skin cancer.
Sulphates like SLS can trigger an immune response, break down the lipid barrier in our skin and irritate skin.
Fragrences / perfume (you’ll see it say “fragrance”), are derived from petrochemicals which come from petroleum, which comes from coal, which is gross to put on your face.
Mercury, a heavy metal that causes brain fog, infertility, anxiety & depression, kidney and digestive issues, and poor immune function, can be found in skin lighting products.
These ingredients are in everything from baby and make-up wipes, to cleaners, toners, moisturizer, serum etc. These compounds are able to penetrate through the skins barrier and into our system, and our liver then has to metabolise and excrete these compounds. The whole thing is also, is that we don’t know the long term implications of consistent use of absorbing these ingredients. All the studies show acute/short-term impacts, not like 10, 20, 30, 40 years of use.
And its not just us girls that need to take this in strides, these environmental chemicals, such as BPA and pthalates have anti-androgenic activity, antagonising the action of testosterone. And with testosterone paramount for brain cognition, mood, libido, performance, recovery, all that good stuff, this is something to stop and think about, and have a look at your products too.
So now that we’ve explored some of the ingredients to avoid, there’s some principle rules that can be applied for us all, and then we all have differing skins which sometimes require trial and error to find the products and routine that works for us.
Products with minimal ingredients, natural oils, no parabens, pthalates etc are whats up, like from Kylie and Kourtney, to JLo to The Skinny Confidential, everyone’s adopting and loving, cleaner skin care products, with bomb natural botanical extracts and ingredients.
SKIN LOVING BOTANICALS & INGREDIENTS:
As i mentioned our skin has its own microbiome and pH level (5.5), which needs to be maintained for optimal skin function and appearance. Using products that don’t acidify or alkalise your skin too much are what we want to aim for, it’s all about enhancing and supporting what your skins designed to do.
BRANDS I LOVE:
These are just some of my favourite brands, I’m not at all affiliated or anything. We’re all individuals and different products will work or not, for each of us. I just really want to communicate that, if we’re not made of it, we shouldn’t be putting it on our skin. Our skin absorbs 80% of what we put on it, so when choosing and buying your skin care products look for ingredients you understand and know.
xxx all my love