When the topic of organs comes up, many people automatically think about their heart, liver, kidneys, etc—and would be surprised to learn that their skin is actually their largest organ. Skin is made up of seven layers of tissue that protects muscles, bones, ligaments, and internal organs.
Because skin is the first defense against the environment, it protects the body against germs and disease as well as excessive water loss. It serves as an insulator and a temperature regulator, converts sunlight into vitamin D, and provides sensation, which helps you move through the world in a safe and sometimes pleasurable manner.
Despite the importance of skin, many people don’t even think twice about how they treat it (other than keeping it clean). But skincare is vitally important, not only in treating maladies such as eczema and acne but also in preventing skin cancer and the ravages of age, which is why it’s important to know how to properly care for your skin.
What Is Skincare?
Skincare is defined as the practice of supporting the integrity of your skin, enhancing your appearance, and relieving skin conditions. Skincare includes proper nutrition, the avoidance of excessive sun exposure, and the appropriate application of skincare products.
There are a number of reasons why you should regularly practice skincare. Skin protects your body from environmental hazards, such as germs, ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and pollution. And even though your skin protects you from the environment, it also acts like a sponge, absorbing substances that can both help and hurt your skin and your body as a whole.
Not only does your skin synthesize necessary nutrients due to its interaction with the rays of the sun, it also helps regulate your temperature. When it gets hot, blood flow is increased to the skin and sweating happens, both of which help keep you cool.
Skincare is also vitally important when you’re managing a chronic disease such as eczema. Eczema can be a serious skin condition that requires the treatment of a healthcare professional or dermatologist. According to the National Eczema Association, “people with eczema tend to have an overactive immune system that, when triggered by a substance outside or inside the body, responds by producing inflammation, which causes the red, itchy and painful skin symptoms common to eczema.”
How Did the Concept of Skincare Develop?
Skincare has a long, detailed history. It stretches back to the ancient Egyptians and the 5,000-year-old traditions of Ayurvedic medicine in what is now India. The residents of Babylon used to apply lotions to their skin, as did the Romans. Over the centuries, skincare traditions have continued, and haven’t really changed that much. However, what also hasn’t changed much are promises of rejuvenating lotions and creams that fail to achieve the desired outcomes.
Over the years, skincare routines have evolved, but one thing dermatologists wholeheartedly recommend is applying sunscreen when you are out in the sun. The best way to protect your skin and keep it youthful looking is to protect it from the sun.
Another way to protect your skin is to avoid tobacco products. Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide, which takes the place of oxygen. Combined with nicotine, which reduces blood flow, carbon monoxide causes dry and discolored skin. Breathing in tobacco smoke depletes many nutrients, especially vitamin C, which helps protect and repair skin damage.
Tobacco smoke is also damaging to collagen and elastin, which help keep your skin firm and supple. This damage makes your skin age faster, which is why many smokers look older than their actual age.
Another thing you can do to take care of your skin is not to overdo washing it with soaps that strip the naturally occurring oils. While the proper cleaning of your skin helps prevent acne breakouts and improves skin health, using the wrong type of cleanser can expose your skin to more damage than it prevents.
Soap and facial cleansers are created to remove dirt and sebum from the skin. Soap contains surfactants, chemicals that make it easier to wash away dirt and oil. Excess oil and dirt, combined with dead skin cells and bacteria, can create clogged pores, causing acne, which is often treated with benzoyl peroxide. But removing all the oil is not healthy either. That’s why it’s important to use the right kind of cleanser on your skin, whether you have naturally dry skin, oily skin, or something in between.
Similarly, sebum, which is produced by the body’s sebaceous glands excreted through the pores that contain hair follicles, helps protect the skin and the rest of the body from the environment and helps to regulate temperature.
Some surfactants can also cause damage to the skin, such as dryness, redness, and irritation while impairing the skin’s ability to protect you from the world around you. With no sebum, toxins, bacteria, and pollution can penetrate deeper into the skin and make their way into your internal organs.
Dermatologists also recommend not using scalding hot water when washing your skin, no matter your skin type, using clean washcloths to avoid spreading germs around, and moisturizing as soon as you get out of the bath or shower, while your skin is still wet.
Second, reducing stress and anxiety in your life can have a positive impact on your skin. Stress can cause puffy eyes, dry skin, acne, inflammation, rashes and hives, wrinkles, and a red face.
Developing Your Skincare Regimen
A skincare regimen can be as simple or as complex as you make it, but the basic ingredients include:
- Cleaning with a gentle cleanser
- Applying a moisturizer (without artificial fragrance) after washing
- Using sunscreen when outdoors
- Using a toner to shrink pores and restore a natural pH balance to your skin
Also, an antioxidant serum that contains vitamin C, algae extract, rosemary, and peppermint is also a good addition to any skincare routine.
More intensive and less frequent skincare might include chemical or mechanical exfoliation. This procedure sounds scary, but if done properly, it can safely remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “mechanical exfoliation uses a tool such as a brush, sponge, or scrub to physically remove dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation uses chemicals, such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids, to gently dissolve dead skin cells.”
Depending on your skin type, a washcloth and a mild chemical exfoliator may suffice, especially for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin. Those with thicker or oily skin might need to use stronger chemical treatments.
After using a chemical exfoliant, it’s important to immediately apply moisturizer to keep it from drying out.
What Should You Look for in Skincare Products?
As you may know from looking at the label of almost any skincare product, the list of ingredients can get very, very complicated (and long). However, these scientific names have very specific functions, and they aren’t that mysterious once you gain some familiarity with them. Here are some of the most common.
- The main ingredients found in most skincare products on the market are alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, tartaric acid, and citric acid. They help with fine lines and wrinkles, irregular pigmentation, and age spots, and they may help shrink enlarged pores.
- Beta-hydroxy acid, also known as salicylic acid, removes dead skin and can improve the texture and color of sun-damaged skin. It can also help treat acne.
- Hydroquinone and kojic acid are often used together to help lighten age and dark spots.
- Retinol, which is derived from vitamin A, is often touted as an anti-aging skincare product. Vitamin A has been shown to help your body produce collagen and elastin, which keeps the skin looking healthy.
- The most effective form of vitamin C in skincare products is L-ascorbic acid, which contains an antioxidant that has proven to stimulate the synthesis of collagen.
- Hyaluronic acid, also known as a glycosaminoglycan, occurs naturally in humans and animals, and is commonly found in joint fluid, tissues, and young skin. Hyaluronic acid can also help to cushion and lubricate your body’s connective tissue, keeping it firm and pliable.
- Studies have shown that products containing copper peptide can promote collagen and elastin production. Copper peptide acts as an antioxidant, and promotes production of glycosaminoglycans.
- Alpha-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant that is soluble in both water and oil, which means it can get into all parts of the cell. Studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid can help prevent the damage free radicals do to your body while boosting other levels of antioxidants.
- DMAE, or dimethylaminoethanol, is naturally produced in the brain and can also be found in anchovies, salmon, and sardines. DMAE assists in the production of acetylcholine, which improves cognitive ability and, when applied to the skin, can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
- Essential oils like lavender, helichrysum, lemongrass, tea tree, frankincense, German chamomile, and rose otto can also play a part in any skincare regimen.
- Some plant oils, when applied directly to the skin, like coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, safflower seed oil, argan oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, and avocado oil, have been shown to protect the skin, provide antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and support the immune system.
There are also a number of non-surgical procedures that can remove fine wrinkles, scars, uneven pigmentation, and other imperfections.They include:
- Injections of botulinum toxin, which has been proven to temporarily smooth out wrinkles in the face, brow, and neck.
- Injections of soft-tissue fillers, such as hyaluronic acid and poly-L-lactic acid, restore fullness to the cheeks and under the eyes, fill lines, and reduce acne scars.
- Microneedling, a procedure where an electric or battery-operated instrument is repeatedly applied to the skin, stimulates the production of collagen and elastin. Hyaluronic acid or ascorbic acid are often applied before or after needling to ensure they get deep under the first few layers of skin.
- Laser therapy can remove moderate to deep lines and wrinkles and significantly improve skin tone, texture, and tightness because lasers can target specific types of cells to treat conditions such as port-wine stains, pigmented birthmarks, and spider veins.
What’s the Difference Between BodyLogicMD’s Skincare Products and Over-the-Counter Skincare Products?
BodyLogicMD has created a specialized line of skincare and anti-aging products designed to restore skin to its youthful and naturally radiant appearance. BioSkinMD, developed by practitioners and pharmacists, utilizes ingredients that protect against irritants, inflammation, and bacteria. They are designed to help soothe, moisturize, and replenish skin and include creams to remove dark circles from under the eyes and serums to stimulate blood flow.
BodyLogicMD’s Nightly Rejuvenation PM Cream is an oil-free moisturizer that contains essential vitamins such as vitamin B3 and vitamin E. It also contains fatty acids that replenish the skin’s surface and reduce moisture loss.
Over-the-counter skincare products are designed to appeal to a large customer base, and are often not potent enough to live up to their promises. Many contain synthetic fragrances and preservatives, which can cause damage when they should be promoting healing.
Cosmeceutical products, such as the BioSkinMD line, contain biologically active ingredients that can penetrate deep down to the layers where collagen and elastin are helping to create new skin cells.
BioSkinMD products, which contain peptides and emollients, can also be customized by a BodyLogicMD practitioner to include ingredients such as hormones and retinol to make them more effective. Finally, all BioSkinMD products are paraben-free, sulfate-free, silicone-free, and never tested on animals.
As you begin to address your skincare needs, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or a dermatologist to ensure what you are doing is safe and appropriate. The healthcare professionals within the BodyLogicMD network are trained in anti-aging and rejuvenation and can help you design a program that is right for your skin type and your needs.
Because skin problems, such as changes in sensitivity to cold or heat and very dry skin or skin rashes, can also be due to hormonal imbalances, the practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network can help you pinpoint the root of your discomfort and co-create a treatment program that includes diet and nutrition, skincare products, and, if necessary, hormone replacement therapy, which might include the use of bioidentical hormones. These hormones may include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
The healthcare professionals within the BodyLogicMD network are certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and trained to provide personalized, preventive, and predictive care that is well rounded and combines a diverse range of medical and healthcare disciplines.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.