What Your Skin Does For You!

skin works

For the most part, I write about skin and how to take care of it.  Investing time in a skincare routine, along with adopting healthy lifestyle choices, leads to skin health, enhanced appearance, protection from skin cancer, and prevention from premature aging.

However, have you ever stopped and wondered what your skin does for you?

Confession: Before esthetic school, skin to me was just…well…skin.  I knew it encased our organs, protecting them from falling out and responded to sensation but my knowledge about the subject was limited.  So what did I learn?

Skin, also known as the integumentary system, is the largest organ in the body and has six primary functions: sensation, protection, heat regulation, excretion, absorption and secretion.

Sensation: Our skin contains sensory nerve endings that respond to touch, pain, colds, heat and pressure.  These nerve endings detect stimuli, sending messages to the brain to react as a protective defense mechanism or to react in a positive manner.

Protection: Skin is a thin but strong protective barrier to outside elements and microorganisms.  Sebum (oil), lipids (fat), sweat and water make up what is known as the acid mantle.  The acid mantle has a pH of about 5.5 and this acidic level protects us from pathogens, irritation, and from the skin drying out.

The most fascinating aspect of skin is its ability to repair itself when injured, protecting the body from infection and damage from injury.

Heat Regulation: The body’s internal thermostat is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sweat glands release heat from the body through perspiration to keep us from overheating.  Through evaporation on the skin’s surface, the body is able to cool itself.  To protect ourselves from the cold, our blood vessels constrict and decrease the blood flow. The body’s fat layers help to keep the body warm.

Excretion: Sweat glands excrete perspiration and help detoxify the body by ridding it of excess water, salt and unwanted chemicals.

Secretion: Sebum (oil) protects the surface of the skin and lubricates both skin and hair. It’s responsible for keeping skin soft, protecting from outside elements, slowing down the skin’s evaporation of water, and maintaining water levels in the cells.  

Absorption: Absorption of water, oxygen, and ingredients are essential for skin health.  Select topical products help keep skin moisturized, nourished and protected.

So there you have it.  A tiny, simplified glimpse of what your skin does, regardless if you take care of it or not.

Showing it some consideration and TLC  a few minutes a day does not seem that like that much work after all, does it?

Happy Thursday!

Sunscreen 101!

Sunscreen 2

Different seasons bring a host of new trends in the beauty industry- think pastel washes of color, orange lipstick, the coveted au naturale look- but what’s one trend we should implement and follow all year-round?

Sunscreen!

Whether you are male or female, have a skincare regimen in place or not, sunscreen should be a staple product in your arsenal.  The immense danger of exposure to UV radiation is skin cancer, however skin cancer is almost entirely preventable if you choose the right sunscreen and apply with slavish devotion.  The sun is also a main culprit in the causes of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and saggy skin-even going out for a quick walk or running an errand in your car exposes you to the sun’s damaging rays!

While there is a plethora of sunscreens to choose from, you don’t have to spend a fortune to protect yourself.  Here is a brief insight into sunscreen.

Broad-spectrum

Make sure that your sunscreen offers broad-spectrum coverage, which will protect you from UVA and UVB rays.  UVA rays cause premature aging and UVB rays are known as the tanning and burning rays; both cause cancer.

Sun Protection Factor

The term “SPF” is the abbreviation for a product’s Sun Protection Factor.  The level of protection is not proportionate with SPF rating, meaning a higher SPF doesn’t mean more protection.  In fact, an SPF of 15 provides protection from 93% of the sun’s rays, SPF 30 protects from 97% of the sun’s rays and an SPF 60 protects 98%.  No sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s rays and it is important to reapply every 2 hours during outdoor activities, sweating or swimming.

Types: Physical and Chemical

Physical sunscreens sit on the surface of the skin and reflect or scatter UV radiation before it can reach the epidermis. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide compose this category.

Zinc oxide is a great option for those who have sensitive skin or rosacea.

Chemical sunscreens have a strong ability to effectively absorb UVB radiation before they can damage the skin. Look for:  Octisalate, Oxybenzone, Homosalate, Octyldimethly PABA (Padimate O), Octocrylene, Octinoxate, Avobenzone (Parasol 1789), and/or Ecamsule (Mexoryl).

Bonus: Antioxidants

Sunscreens formulated with antioxidants can further protect against harmful UV rays and damaging free radicals.

Caffeine, silymarin (from milk thistle), genistein ( a soy isoflavone), epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), resveratrol, and vitamin C (ascorbic acid)  are examples of common added antioxidants.

Application

According to the FDA, the correct amount of product to use is a teaspoon for the face and a shot glass for the body. Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure.  Remember, constant reapplication is key, even with sweat and water resistant sunscreens!  Also, avoiding prime sun hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) if you can, and covering up with shades and a hat helps.

Overall

Physical sunscreens are typically a good option for sensitive skin types and offer UVA and UVB protection.  Chemical sunscreens offer adequate protection from UVB rays but frequently don’t offer favorable protection against UVA rays. Blended sunscreens (physical and chemical) with the addition of antioxidants are ideal, however the type of sunscreen that will work best depends on your skin and how it reacts. Sometimes, it takes a couple of trial and error sessions to figure out what the best formulation is for you.

I hope you found this post helpful.

Feel free to comment or ask a question!