Can Fat Help Dry Skin?

EFAs

The dreaded F-word: fat.

Although many think fat-free is the way to go, if you find that not even topical ingredients help your dry skin, take a look at your diet.  While fats are given a negative connotation, they are a crucial component of good health as it helps your body retain heat, lubricates the skin and assists in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Not All Fats Are Created Equal

So does this mean you can overly indulge in french fries?  Wishful thinking, but no.  Fried foods don’t make the cut. However, the benefits you’ll reap from the good fats just may outweigh this notion and allow for the occasional treat.

Enter essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are acids the body can’t manufacture on its own and therefore need to be obtained through our diet.  EFAs are necessary for brain and body development, metabolism, and hair and skin growth.   At a cellular level, EFAs are important because cell membranes hold water in, and the stronger they are, the better your skin cells can retain that moisture.  A deficiency in EFAs can result in dermatitis (eczema), reduced barrier function, scaly skin and increased moisture loss.

 EFA Types: Omega-3 and Omega-6.

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 that is used to make important hormones and maintains the lipid barrier of the skin.  Linoleic acid is found in oils made from safflower, grapeseed, sunflower, corn, soybean, borage and flaxseed but is also found in raw nuts, seeds and legumes. *It’s important to note that high amounts of omega-6 can promote inflammation, so low amounts are key.  The typical American diet has an excess of omega-6.

Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3 that is a popular nutrient for healthy skin and reduces inflammation.  The Mediterranean diet is high in omega-3.  Sources of omega-3 rich foods include salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, trout, cod, fish oil, walnuts, flax, pumpkin seeds and algae.

Dry skin, for the most part can be reversed with topical and ingested supplementation.  However, ALWAYS consult a medical professional and/or registered dietitian before implementing any changes in your diet to verify there are no contraindications with certain medical conditions or medications.

Do you notice a difference in your skin with certain foods you eat or don’t eat? Do share! 

Disclaimer:  The contents on this website, and any related links, are provided for general informational purposes and should NOT be considered medical advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here. Please consult a healthcare provider if you have any questions about a particular health condition.  

What’s Your Type?

Our skin types are genetically determined.  However, to the joy of some and the dismay of others, they can change over time, or you can have a combination of several all at once.  Dry skin and a few breakouts here and there?  Yup.  As weird as it sounds, it can happen.

Do you know your skin type(s) or do you just recall what someone once told you your skin type was and have clung to that notion ever since?

Here are six common skin types and their characteristics to help you determine-or at least give you an idea of- of what would be beneficial to your skin.

normal skin

Normal

Normal skin (oh the lucky ones!) has a good oil-water balance and is soft and plump.  It has a healthy glow and color, with fine texture, small pores and no congestion .  Maintenance and preventative care are your main goals.

combination skin

Combination

I personally fall into this category and let me tell you, it can be gosh darn frustrating.  Combination skin is characterized by an oily T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) while the cheeks tend to be on the dry side, causing a flaky appearance.  The goal is to control areas prone to oiliness while moisturizing areas that are dry, and to keep skin well exfoliated to help combat breakouts and dryness.

oily skin

Oily

Oily skin is characterized by an all over greasy shine, visible pores, coarser skin texture (akin to that of  an orange), little wrinkling (silver lining, no?), blackheads/whiteheads, breakouts.  Controlling sebum production, and clearing out the pores is key.  Ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin are good at providing hydration.

acne

Acne

Not just for teenagers anymore as the number of adult acne is rising.  Symptoms range from blackheads/whiteheads, breakouts, painful cysts, inflammation and sensitivity .  Causes of acne can be genetic or a hormonal imbalance.  Deep cleansing facials, proper home regimen and soothing the skin are goals. Avoid excessive or harsh cleansers as it can make acne worse.

dry skin

Dry

If the Sahara desert would be envious, then you probably have dry skin.  Where oily skin produces a mass amount of oil, dry skin doesn’t produce enough. Visible dryness, small pores, tightness,and a propensity to wrinkles are indicators of dry skin.   Cleansing creams or milky cleansers are ideal as they don’t strip the skin while ingredients like shea butter or borage seed oil are great moisturizers.

sensitive

Sensitive

Sensitive skin is identified by fragile, thin, red skin that has an impaired barrier function and more reactive capillaries. It’s easily irritated by products (even sometime water) and exposure to heat and sun.  Avoid excessive rubbing, heat, exfoliation, or extractions.  Use calming, soothing ingredients like aloe vera, panthenol (pro-vitamin B-5), bisabolol, and niacinamide.

Has your skin type been consistent or has it undergone major changes throughout the years? 

 

 

 

 

Why Squeaky Clean Can Be Mean

soap

At some point, whether it be morning, mid-afternoon, or evening- perhaps even all three- we walk ourselves over to the sink or shower to cleanse our face.  The accumulation of sebum, dirt and environmental pollution can leave our skin feeling grimy and we think that tight, squeaky clean feeling after cleansing means we have gotten rid of it all.  Often, the choice of said cleansing is soap, and well, why not? It’s convenient, fairly inexpensive, and if it’s tough enough to remove oil and dirt from our body, hey, why not extend its use to our face, right?

Wrong!

Aside from removing debris and oil, soap tends to remove the fats between the skin cells known as intercellular lipids. Our skin has what’s know as an internal cellular matrix,which is the lipid (fat) substance between cells that protect the cells from water loss and irritation.  Excessive removal of these lipids results in dry skin and skin disease.

Take a quick trip back to your chemistry class by glancing at pH (potential hydrogen) scale below.

 

pH scale

 

The pH scale measures the acidity or alkalinity of any substance that contains water and extends from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.  Anything below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7 is alkaline. Soap also has a high pH level, 9-11, while the natural pH of skin can range from 4-6.  Since sebum and sweat create a barrier on the skin’s surface known as the acid mantle, this protects against certain forms of bacteria and other microorganisms.  Extreme variations in pH can damage the skin’s barrier functions and cause sensitivity, aging, dehydration, and can worsen skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.  Also, highly alkaline solutions can form an insoluble film, leaving skin feeling dry, irritated and itchy.

Considering the information above and knowing the skin on our face is a lot more delicate than the skin on our body, using facial cleansers that are soap-free or pH balanced are best.

I hope this post was helpful in explaining why using soap to cleanse the face isn’t an ideal option.

Have a great Tuesday!

 

 

 

 

 

To Shea!

shea butter

Suffering from eczema, psoriasis or dry skin?

Here is one topical ingredient that can improve and relieve symptoms associated with these skin conditions.

Who: Butyrospermum Parkii, or shea butter

What skin types/conditions it can help: Dry, aging, eczema and psoriasis               

Where it comes from: The nut of the karite tree which grows in Africa

Why it’s important: Rich in vitamins A and E (antioxidants) and vitamin F (an Essential Fatty Acid known as linoleic acid), shea butter protects the skin from free radicals, helps minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and is a great emollient.  It also has soothing and nourishing properties

How it helps with dry, aging, eczema and psoriasis: Emollients maintain soft, smooth, pliable skin; remain on skin surface to act as a lubricant; reduce flaking; and improve appearance.  The soothing and nourishing aspects help repair the skin barrier.  Linoleic acid in skin care helps provide anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and healing support.

Got Cream In Your Cleanser?

Milk

 

 

Cream based cleansers allow the skin to maintain its natural protective barrier and lipids, making them perfect for normal to dry skin types. During winter, they can also be beneficial for combination skin if your regular cleanser leaves skin feeling dry and tight.  When choosing these types of cleansers, look for words like ‘cream’ or ‘milky’ in the name.

My personal favorites: Monarach Beauty Herbal Milky Cleanser and Dermalogica Essential Cleansing Solution.