The skin of your children is soft, wrinkle free, supple, smooth and usually unblemished. "Smooth as a baby’s bottom", is an expression used to indicate that some object or material has an extremely smooth finish or is smooth to the touch, just like a baby’s bottom.
Yet, often soon after our children reach an age where they no longer need nappies, we use less and less skin care products on them as they get older... Why?
Young skin is smooth and has a youthful appearance - of course, it’s young. As children grow up and their bodies start to mature, so to does their skin - teenagers often get acne and in some severe cases this can even lead to permanent scaring on their faces.
But there is another less obvious aging process that has a long term-rather than a short-term effect on the health and vitality of our skin - the Sun.
Did you know, that 50% of exposure to the sun is done before we are 20? As young kids, we spend vast amounts of time outside and play in the sun, on the beach, in the snow, on playgrounds, backyards and so on. The amount of UV radiation that our skin is exposed to is huge. This is particularly the case for our face, neck, hands and arms, but is also applicable to the back and legs, especially in warmer climates.
The effects of this exposure however, are not obvious except for the occasional sunburn, but once that heals, there is little evidence of long-term damage. That is unless you could look below the surface of the skin. Then you would see just how much damage over exposure to the sun can do.
The damage of UV radiation is focused on the dermis of our skin, this is where it has the greatest impact and that is where the long-term damage accumulates. Yes, the damage is cumulative. More UV exposure, more damage.
The media has helped to promote awareness of the risks of skin cancer due to excessive exposure to the sun, but rarely do we hear about other factors, such as premature signs of aging of our skin. Break down of collage, dehydration, and so on.
Often it is not until we reach our late 20s or early 30s that we start seeing the first little fine lines and begin to think about our skin care on a more serious level. But by now, most of the damage has already been done and all we are doing is to try to prevent the inevitable.
So, what should we do? Well, the first step is to start educating our children. Babies are used to having creams and lotions put on their bodies. So why do we stop when the nappy period of their lives is over?
It is at this point that children should be encouraged to put natural creams and lotions on their bodies after they have a shower or a bath. From the time they go to kindergarten, if not earlier, they will be spending many hours outdoors and sure we use the sunscreens, hats and generally try to keep the sun off their bare skin, but at the same time, we should encourage the use of natural skin care creams and lotions to protect, nourish, hydrate and cleanse their young and tender skin.
For example, introducing your children to using natural soaps rather than the harsh, commercially available types, will help their skin maintain its natural pH balance and thus the skin’s Acid Mantel.
Of course when they get grease or oil on their skin you may need to use a more powerful cleaner, but there are plenty of natural soaps available for all skin cleansing jobs. Wildcrafted’s Heavenly Hand & Body Wash is perfectly able to get rid of stubborn dirt and grime and at the same time it is kind and nourishing to their skin.
Teach your children to use natural hand creams. The skin on our hands gets more ware and tear then any other part and using a good hand cream will help to keep their skin soft, supple and healthy.
Teach them to use a natural moisturising cream on their face and on their body. Choose a natural moisturiser that’s suitable for Normal skin, as children do not tend to have oily or dry skin, this usually starts around the time of puberty.
If you continue teaching your children from an early age to use natural skin care products on their skin, they will naturally continue this process and their skin will thank you and them in the long term.
The table below shows some alternative, natural producs you can use instead of the common commercially produced supermarket type products, which often are not natural and can contain synthetic or potentially harmful chemicals.
Natural Skin Care Approach for Children Aged 6 - Puberty
During this time, children develop and so does their skin and hormonal system. Hormones have a marked influence on the skin and at puberty, this becomes particularly obvious.
However, let’s look at the sort of skin care regime you should promote to your children before they actually start entering into puberty.
Around the time they are old enough for kindergarten, they should be used to using natural soaps and moisturising creams or lotions. Some will put them on themselves, others will require you to do it. At this stage, you can teach them the benefits of using facial skin care products as well as all-over skin care products and how these differ.
The first step is to show your child that using a facial cleanser, under the shower, is beneficial and you should also show them how to use it. This is basically quite simple, just substitute the natural soap for the facial cleanser. That’s pretty much all there’s to it.
Once they step out of the shower, show them how to use a toner on their face. This step is unfortunately often overlooked by adults, but should be included in any daily skin care regime. Toning the skin helps to remove any residues of the cleanser and in addition helps to close the pores to prevent further loss of moisture by closing the pores. It also helps to re-establish the pH balance of the skin and maintains the protective Acid Mantel of the skin.
Finally, show your child which product to use to moisturise their facial skin and which is to be used for the rest of the body. Wildcrafted's Geranium & Aloe Moisturiser is ideal for all-over skin moisturising and remember, a little goes a long way.
On their face, if their skin type is still ‘normal’, use either the Moonglow (no fragrance) Day Cream or the Papaya Day Crème. You can also use the Geranium & Aloe, but if you want to teach your child to use a slightly different approach to their facial skin care regime, now is a good time to show them how and what to use.
I am not differentiating between boys and girls, because skin needs tender loving care no matter what sex your child may be. Obviously, girls may be somewhat more interested in skin care, because they watch Mum do it and want to mirror what Mum does.
Having said that, boys too will follow the example set by their Mum and Dad, and will put on their moisturiser just as easily as Dad. So basically, if you do it, they will follow your example.
The benefits of starting at a young age to look after the skin are immeasurable. What damage is caused by UV radiation while playing outdoors can, at least to a great extent, be repaired by adopting a natural skin care regime early in life. Remember much of the damage is done before your child’s 20th Birthday. So it makes good sense to teach them the benefits of a daily, natural skin care regime early in life.
Puberty & Beyond
Now that your child has reached puberty, it’s easy to teach them about caring for their skin. After all who wants pimples... If you have taught your child the benefits of following a skin care regime and they have experienced the value of using natural skin care products, they will have little problem adapting to more complex regimes that include the use of clay masks to draw toxins out of their skin and making use of natural exfoliating products.
Not only will these extra steps help in maintaining clear skin, but they will help to reduce the acne in severity and frequency.
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.
They practice Herbal and Chinese medicine at their Wildcrafted Cottage Clinic.
© Wildcrafted Herbal Products 2008