Your skin can be one of your greatest assets if it is looked after and properly cared for, or become an expensive liability. It’s all in the way you treat it. We hear a lot these days about skin care, skin care for the Metro-sexual man, anti-aging skin care, anti-wrinkle crèmes, and so on. But what is skin care really?
Skincare consists of two words - Skin and Care. Quite obvious really, but let’s look at exactly what that term means. Anything that is taken good care of will look last and function better for longer and retain its value.
Maybe we should think about skin care in terms of ‘Skin maintenance’, rather than skin care, because there are several factors that constitute good skin care. Consider that your skin is involved in both absorption as well as elimination of chemicals, and plays a very important role as part of your immune system; does it not stand to reason then, that the healthier your skin is, the better it will be able to fulfil these functions?
Most people think of skin care as keeping your skin clean and if it gets dry, using a moisturiser and that’s that. Well, it’s a start, but far from constituting skin care or maintenance of skin function.
Information on exfoliation, cleansing, toning and moisturising is readily available, and both men and women of all ages should follow these basic skin care concepts, however, as we become older, the type of maintenance needs to change and the skin care regime that is relevant in your 20’s changes as we move through our 30’s, 40’s, 50's and beyond.
Skincare is a necessity, not a luxury
Your skin is a valuable asset. Treat it well, and you will reap the rewards, treat it badly and it could ultimately kill you!
Skin cancer is a growing concern in the health industry. As the Ozone layer is under ever increasing pressure and indeed thinning over some parts of the World, UV radiation is reaching the Earth’s surface in greater concentration and this is not only having a detrimental effect on our climate and ecosystems, but also affects each and every one of us directly on a day-to-day basis.
UV rays have been shown to cause skin cancer. Getting sunburn is now accepted as a leading cause for skin cancer and guarding against it is not quite as simple as staying out of the sun, or slapping on some sunscreen.
Maintaining a good skin care regime is now more important than ever, and consists of several important parts:
Follow a daily skin care regime of cleansing, toning and moisturising; using a gentle exfoliant on a regular basis and applying a natural clay mask once or twice a week.
Eating a well balanced, healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, grains and lean meat is paramount to supplying your skin with the nutrition it needs to function at its optimal level.
Water – you cannot under estimate the body’s need for being well hydrated. Medial research shows that your body requires at least 2-3 litres of water per day to maintain its functions. Try to use filtered water, as it contains fewer chemical additives such as chlorine, etc., which can have negative health effects.
If you need to be convinced that you really do need to filter your drinking water, just ask any of the people that work on water meters and they will tell you willingly the sort of things that get stuck in them and deteriorate over time – eels are just one of those things that get stuck and decompose in your water meter…
Dehydration is not as obvious as one might think and can be chronic with few or no symptoms. If you are physically active, you will need to drink even more than 3 litres per day.
Exercise – Now you do not have to be a ‘Gym-Junky’, but being unfit will have consequences that you will ultimately not appreciate; go for a walk 3-4 times a week; use the stairs not the elevator; park the car further away from the office or the shops; join a walking club; ride a bike; play tennis, golf or another sport that gets your body moving – you don’t have to be an Olympic champion you know, but get moving and have fun.
Finally, there is one more important consideration in the maintenance of your skin – should you use natural skin care products or will any products do?
The answer is NATURAL, naturally. Think about it from this point of view: When you buy food, do you look for ‘no artificial colouring’, ‘no artificial flavours’, ‘contains not GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), etc., or don’t you care?
What about your drinks, do you not look for 100% natural, low in salt, no artificial this or that, no added sugar, etc., of course you do. Well, you need to treat what you put on you skin with the same scrutiny, because it absorbs nutrients whether they are natural or not; it will absorb these chemicals into the tissue and it will then be able to use them, or not.
Natural vs Synthetic
Natural substances are much more easily assimilated in your body and are also more easily eliminated via your Kidneys or Liver once they’ve performed their functions. Synthetic chemicals, on the other hand, may not be able to be eliminated by your body and are thus stored in a range of tissues.
This is where these chemicals can become a potential problem, because cumulative absorption without the ability of elimination can create toxic levels in your body and that is what will potentially do you harm. Just think about the example of Lead. One exposure is unlikely to do you harm, but repeated, long-term exposure will increase your chance of getting Lead poisoning.
As scientific research is becoming more and more sophisticated, we are discovering more information about how our bodies work, how foods interact in our systems and how some foods contain substances which are not able to be made synthetically.
Phyto-estrogens (chemicals naturally found in some plants) are just one example of naturally occurring substances which are essential to the well being of our bodies. Similarly, herbal extracts, essential oils, fruit extracts and so on, all contain naturally occurring chemicals, many of which science is unable to make synthetically due to their complexity in structure.
This results in the synthetic version of a plant extract (often in concentrated forms) not being the same as the natural version and as such can in fact have different effects and even side effects.
An old, but good example is Aspirin. We are all aware by now, that Aspirin can cause stomach irritation. The active ingredient in Aspirin is salicylic acid. It naturally occurs in the bark of the White Willow tree. The big difference between taking Aspirin as opposed to the herbal extract of the White Willow bark, is that in the herbal extract there are many more substances contained that have secondary effects – one substance for example is a mucilaginous substance, which has the function of protecting your stomach lining!
Guess what, there is nothing in Aspirin (from the chemist) that acts to protect your stomach – That’s the difference between using natural versus artificially manufactured synthetic substances.
If you follow the above steps and invest in your asset, you will gain the benefits - don’t and it may cost you dearly.
Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.