Healthy skin – beyond the myths
Healthy skin, or at least the appearance of healthy skin, has spawned a large and lucrative industry. This is not about vanity or narcissism. We all want healthy skin. So, whether or not you are a consumer in this industry, if you desire healthy skin you will enjoy this page.
Normally, I use references from peer-reviewed journals (from around the world) to support a page. This page, however, is different. Rarely, after hundreds of thousands of pages I’ve researched (Carol can vouch for) in peer-reviewed journals globally, will I find such a well-written and inclusive article.
The author provides excellent information about many different nutrients that include minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids required too properly nourish the skin. Equally important, the article is understandable by the layperson.
So, if healthy skin is important to you, click on this link:
Read the article and bookmark the page so you can revisit it as well!
Are you back?
Was that one of the most enlightening articles you have ever read?
Now, before you run out and purchase a handful of supplements or topicals, I would like to point out in the Abstract the author states: …the general nutritional requirements for skin health. The importance of this statement is that the author is addressing known roles and functions of several nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids) throughout the article. This is general nutritional requirements. As you know, when you use the term “generally speaking,” you are only touching on the highpoints (key points) of the particular subject or topic that you are addressing. You are not going into great depths or important details.
In the same manner, it was not the intent of the author to go into great depths or detail of every specific nutrient required for healthy skin. That would require volumes. Albeit the article draws your attention to “Importance of Key Micronutrients in Maintaining Skin Health,” keep in mind; “key nutrients” are useless without all the other nutrients (minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, and amino acids) required as cofactors to make them work. Nutrient interrelationships are essential to produce healthy skin.
So, let’s use a couple nutrients from the article and see how the “details” work. For example:
- Too much calcium (ever so common) becomes biounavailable and antagonistic to zinc (and many other nutrients as well)
- Too much vitamin C becomes antagonistic to copper leading to a deficiency of copper.
- Too much vitamin A indirectly affects calcium by antagonizing vitamin D
- Zinc is required to mobilize vitamin A from the liver for utilization
- A deficiency of copper affects iron (copper-induced anemia) and increases zinc’s domination over copper further reducing all metabolic requirements copper fulfills.
- An excess of copper or zinc (also vitamin A, C, K, mercury, lead or cadmium) become antagonistic to selenium.
- Vitamin B6 is associated with the conversion of selenomethionine to glutathione peroxidase.
As you can see from this very limited example, the dynamic balance between all nutrients, whether they are macro or micronutrients, is the most important component of healthy nutrition and healthy skin. Too much (nutrient excess) or too little (nutrient deficiency) of any nutrient (or toxin) ultimately disrupts the efficiency of numerous other nutrients throughout the mind and body. Check out Why Test for Minerals for a few more examples of nutrient relationships.
NOTE: Micronutrients, due to the small quantities in the body, are actually more powerful than macronutrients. Unlike macronutrients, even the slightest variance of micronutrients will produce enormous effects.
The pH of healthy skin is acidic!
As seen in Healthy pH Levels, your body must maintain a variety of pH levels for health. This includes the pH level of your skin.
Healthy skin begins on the inside; however, the outermost layer of the epidermis includes the physiological protective acid mantle. The acid mantle is the result of many complex mechanisms and is important for bacterial flora (good bacteria), enzymatic activity, barrier function, stratum corneum integrity/cohesion, moisturizing, and so on.
Healthy skin maintains a pH value on average around 4.75 to 5.5, which is slightly acidic (a pH value of 7 is neutral). Acidic (< 7.0) skin secretions inhibits unhealthy bacterial growth and penetration.
Always cleanse your skin with products that are slightly acidic. Unfortunately, many popular cleansing products are alkaline. This applies to makeup as well.
Additional points about healthy skin.
Your skin is your largest organ.
Healthy skin is a complex cellular organ/gland consisting of many layers that performs numerous functions required for health. It is the largest organ of your body, with a total area of about 18 to 20 square feet (plus or minus depending on your size).
Skin conditions may indicate subclinical malnutrition.
Your skin is susceptible to many conditions that include rashes, hives, acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, skin abscess (boil or furuncle), rosacea, warts, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, herpes, shingles, scabies, ringworm, and many more. Every cell, including skin cells, requires proper nutrition and as such, any skin condition may be a visible sign of subclinical malnutrition.
Whatever you place on your skin may enter your body!
Healthy skin is a natural protective barrier but it is also permeable (skin permeability). This simply means your skin is able to absorb (or allow into the body – ultimately the bloodstream) microscopic amounts of various molecules it contacts. This includes toxins as well. Unhealthy skin may be more permeable. Epidermal patches clearly reveal the permeability of your skin. As such, do your research before applying anything to your skin!
Healthy skin begins on the inside.
Your skin is an organ comprised of different types of cells. Nourishing every cell is the result of numerous complex systems required to remove, complex, and deliver nutrients to every cell throughout your mind and body. This is accomplished inside your body. You do not nourish your body with topical applications of every nutrient. Healthy nutrition, specific to your needs, is a key component for healthy skin.
Healthy skin is the result of numerous factors.
As just stated, healthy nutrition is a key component for healthy skin; however, numerous other factors are also involved that include:
- Stage of stress
- Healthy eating
Each of these factors can contribute toward nutritional disruptions that affect the health of your skin. Remember, your skin is an important organ intricately associated with numerous other organs essential for your health. So, if you are experiencing problems with your skin, what other problems may be occurring at this same time?
Check out the References!
For a more in-depth understanding about healthy skin, take a moment to read through the references!
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For example, facial skin care and daily moisturizing routines are frequently used. However, despite visible relief of dryness symptoms, some products are reported to result in deterioration of the skin barrier function. New clinical outcomes show important clinical differences between formulations and the relapse of eczema. In a worst case scenario, treatment with a moisturizing cream may increase the risks of eczema and asthma.
Interactions between the stratum corneum and topically applied products: regulatory, instrumental and formulation issues with focus on moisturizers. Lodén M. Br J Dermatol. 2014 Sep;171 Suppl 3:38-44. doi: 10.1111/bjd.13240. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25040916
The stratum corneum (SC) is responsible for the barrier properties of the skin and the role of intercorneocyte skin lipids, particularly their structural organization, in controlling SC permeability is acknowledged. Upon contacting the skin, surfactants interact with the SC components leading to barrier damage. The polarity, the organization of the lipid matrix and the lipid composition of the skin allowed describing finely how surfactants can interact with the skin and disturb the skin barrier function.
Surfactants have multi-fold effects on skin barrier function. Lemery E, Briançon S, Chevalier Y, Oddos T, Gohier A, Boyron O, Bolzinger MA; Eur J Dermatol. 2015 Jun 25. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26109150
The permeation of drugs through skin can be enhanced by physical methods such as iontophoresis (application of low level electric current) and phonophoresis (use of ultra sound energy) and by chemical penetration enhancers (CPE). In this review, we have discussed about the CPE which have been investigated for TDD. CPE are compounds that enhance the permeation of drugs across the skin. The CPE increase skin permeability by reversibly altering the physicochemical nature of the stratum corneum, the outer most layer of skin, to reduce its diffusional resistance.
Structure-activity relationship of chemical penetration enhancers in transdermal drug delivery. Kanikkannan N, Kandimalla K, Lamba SS, Singh M. Curr Med Chem. 2000 Jun;7(6):593-608. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10702628
Our previous studies had confirmed that the essential oil from Zanthoxylum bungeanum Maxim. (Z. bungeanum oil) could effectively enhance the percutaneous permeation of drug molecules as a natural transdermal penetration enhancer. The mechanisms of permeation enhancement suggested that these enhancers promoted the skin permeation of drugs mainly by affecting SC lipids
Essential oil from Zanthoxylum bungeanum Maxim. and its main components used as transdermal penetration enhancers: a comparative study. Lan Y, Li H, Chen YY, Zhang YW, Liu N, Zhang Q, Wu Q. J. Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2014 Nov;15(11):940-52. doi: 10.1631/jzus.B1400158. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25367787
It is demonstrated that skin with pH values below 5.0 is in a better condition than skin with pH values above 5.0, as shown by measuring the biophysical parameters of barrier function, moisturization and scaling.
Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora. Lambers H, Piessens S, Bloem A, Pronk H, Finkel P. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2006 Oct;28(5):359-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00344.x. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18489300
Each cleansing agent, even normal tap water, influences the skin surface. The increase of the skin pH irritates the physiological protective ‘acid mantle’, changes the composition of the cutaneous bacterial flora and the activity of enzymes in the upper epidermis, which have an acid pH optimum.
Effects of soap and detergents on skin surface pH, stratum corneum hydration and fat content in infants. Gfatter R, Hackl P, Braun F. Dermatology. 1997;195(3):258-62. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9407174
In summary, drinking more than 2 L of water per day can have a significant impact on skin physiology. The exact effects within the skin seem to differ depending on the nature of the water ingested.
Effect of fluid intake on skin physiology: distinct differences between drinking mineral water and tap water. Williams S1, Krueger N, Davids M, Kraus D, Kerscher M. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Apr;29(2):131-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2007.00366.x. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18489334
Both exposure of stratum corneum to neutral pH buffers and blockade of acidification mechanisms disturb cutaneous permeability barrier homeostasis and stratum corneum integrity/cohesion, but these approaches all introduce potentially confounding variables.
pH directly regulates epidermal permeability barrier homeostasis, and stratum corneum integrity/cohesion. Hachem JP, Crumrine D, Fluhr J, Brown BE, Feingold KR, Elias PM. J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Aug;121(2):345-53. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12880427
Together, these results demonstrate: (i) the importance of phospholipid-to-free-fatty-acid processing for normal stratum corneum acidification; and (ii) the potentially important role of this pathway not only for barrier homeostasis but also for the dual functions of stratum corneum integrity and cohesion.
Generation of free fatty acids from phospholipids regulates stratum corneum acidification and integrity. Fluhr JW, Kao J, Jain M, Ahn SK, Feingold KR, Elias PM. J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Jul;117(1):44-51. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11442748
Thus, inhibiting the epidermal synthesis of any of the three key lipids that form the extracellular, lipid-enriched membranes of the stratum corneum results in an impairment in barrier homeostasis.
Fatty acids are required for epidermal permeability barrier function. Mao-Qiang M, Elias PM, Feingold KR. J Clin Invest. 1993 Aug;92(2):791-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8102380
Psychologic stress (PS) is well recognized to provoke, exacerbate, and propagate many cutaneous dermatoses associated with abnormal epidermal barrier function, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Based upon extensive studies on the immune and neuroendocrine systems, the prevailing view holds that immune and neuroendocrine mechanisms account for the negative effects of PS on skin.
Mechanisms by Which Psychologic Stress Alters Cutaneous Permeability Barrier Homeostasis and Stratum Corneum Integrity. Eung-Ho Choi, Barbara E Brown, Debra Crumrine, Sandra Chang, Mao-Qiang Man, Peter M Elias, and Kenneth R Feingold. Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2005) 124, 587–595; doi:10.1111/j.0022-202X.2005.23589.x http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v124/n3/full/5602736a.html
Exposure to ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight provides the mechanism for more than 90% of the vitamin D production in most individuals.
Does chronic sunscreen use reduce vitamin D production to insufficient levels? Norval M, Wulf HC Br J Dermatol. 2009 Oct;161(4):732-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2009.09332.x. Epub 2009 Jun 4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19663879
Sunlight, ultraviolet radiation, vitamin D and skin cancer: how much sunlight do we need? Holick MF. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;810:1-16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12117220
Diet, sun, and lifestyle as determinants of vitamin D status. Lips P, van Schoor NM, de Jongh RT. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 May;1317:92-8. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12443. Epub 2014 May 9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24814938