When you take a good look at your skin in the bathroom mirror, what do you see? Redness, discoloration, bumps, dryness, enlarged pores, whiteheads, blackheads, areas of excess pigmentation or lack of pigmentation, cracks (in the corner of your mouth), wrinkles, frown lines, or sagging skin? Make a note if you do, because your first instinct may be to mask with foundation, powder, or a similar concealing makeup.
But have you ever stopped and really thought about why your skin is not close to “perfect” in the first place?
We all do not need completely flawless skin but the fact is, when your skin is not healthy, neither is the rest of your body. Ultimately striving for overall health, inside and out, through a healthy diet, lifestyle, and natural medicines, you have the power to positively change your genetic expression.
There are six main underlying causes that can lead to premature aging and skin problems. We investigate how these causes may be affecting your skin:
- Microbiome disturbance
- Oxidative damage
- Blood sugar issues
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Hormonal imbalances
We believe that identifying the underlying cause(s) allows us to find the weak spot that can lead to the most common skin problems, such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and premature aging. When you address your specific Achilles heel, coming up with a tailored solution is much easier.
Let’s explore these top six causes of premature aging and imperfect skin.
#1 - INFLAMMATION
Inflammation can have enormous effects on the body making the skin more sensitive and susceptible to eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, and most chronic skin conditions.
Externally, when skin is triggered by exposure to UV radiation, allergens, or irritating alkaline soaps or cosmetics, skin cells produce cytokines and chemokines – inflammatory hormones that bind to certain cell receptors and then trigger more inflammatory hormones. This leads to increased blood flow and may trigger immune cells to travel to the skin to add to the body’s inflammatory response.
Internally, a similar inflammatory response occurs internally with anything the immune system deems a threat, such as viruses, toxins, food allergens or intolerances, smoking, and in some cases, medications. When inflammation occurs, the body feels under attack and responds accordingly, and one place this phenomenon presents itself is on the skin.
Skin inflammation often stems from digestive issues commonly known as leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) syndrome. This occurs when the digestive tracts somewhat permeable lining becomes more permeable than it should be, allowing food particles to slip through. The immune system sees these particles as foreign which creates an inflammatory response that can disturb the skin, which can take the form of acne, eczema, or several other skin ailments. According to Dr. Weil, leaky gut typically tends to affect those with pre-existing inflammatory bowel conditions (Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome), rheumatoid arthritis, or asthma.
#2 - MICROBIOME DISTURBANCE
The gut’s health is directly related to skin health. A healthy gut microbiome protects against harmful microorganisms that affect healthy skin. But as we age, toxins, stress, infections, poor dietary choices, and certain medications can negatively affect the gut microbiome.
In addition to your gut microbiome, your skin has its own microbiome that contains equally important microorganisms that live on, and protect the skin. A well-balanced skin microbiome protects your skin from harmful pathogens, harmful alkaline skin care products, and promotes the natural lipid barrier and skin immune system. Ultimately, maintaining a healthy skin microbiome helps prevent acne, eczema, other blemishes, premature aging, which can take the form of excess wrinkles, frown lines, and sagging skin.
#3 - OXIDATIVE DAMAGE
Because skin acts as an external barrier, it is directly exposed to:
- environmental stress (excessive UV radiation, free radicals, bright lights over your desk, machinery noise, cramped office space, pollutants, etc.),
- chemical stress (too many cups of coffee, soda, carbonated drinks, fruit and vitamin water, junk food, aspirins/antibiotics, inhaling substances at the factory or office, pollution on the way to work, smokers in the workplace, etc.),
- physical stress (pushing your body to the limits, using mechanical devices in your skin care routine, driving long distances continually, excessively working out, etc.),
- mental stress (trying to over-achieve, taking exams, anguish over uncompleted jobs, unemployment, financial worries, etc.), and
- emotional stress (relationship problems, parental guilt, grief, etc.).
These different types of stress occur in varying degrees and are never isolated but instead are interdependent. We know, however, that certain lifestyle choices can help combat and reduce these stressors in our life.
#4 - BLOOD SUGAR ISSUES
The body uses glucose (blood sugar) as a primary fuel source, but if glucose is consumed in excess, or not used and metabolized properly, it can bind to skin’s collagen and elastin, which can damage skin. This process is called glycation, and its end products, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), cause our skin to become rigid and less elastic. The result: cracked, thin, and red skin with a weakened ability to repair itself that is prone to wrinkles and accelerated aging.
The term collagen comes from the Greek word κολλα (kolla, meaning “glue”), due to the use of animal skin and collagen-rich tissues a glue source. In a broader sense, collagen is in fact the “glue” of our body, holding it together by providing elasticity and strength to most tissues where mechanical function is essential, such as skin, cartilage, tendons and bones. When collagen proteins and elastin mix with glucose, crosslinking occurs.
Research shows that while enzymatic crosslinking represents an essential step in the development and repair of collagen connective tissues, non-enzymatic crosslinking from oxidative reactions accelerates connective tissue stiffness that further increases with age and is hard to reverse.
In addition to the aging effects of oxidative stress reactions and collagen crosslinking, when blood sugar rises so does insulin, which can increase sebum production and lead to acne breakouts. In other biological pathways, high blood sugar and glycation lead to inflammation, which can trigger a host of additional skin concerns as mentioned prior.
#5 - NUTRITIONAL DEFENCIES
The first signs of nutritional deficiencies appear on our skin. These can be from micronutrient deficiencies (vitamins and minerals) as well as macronutrient imbalances (carbohydrates, fats, and protein). We will discuss at length in future blog posts but just because someone appears to be living a relatively healthy lifestyle, does not mean they do not have nutritional deficiencies.
B vitamin deficiencies (especially methyl B-12 and methyl folate taken together) can cause painful cracks, blisters, or cold sores. A recommended ideal dose is: 5mg+ of methylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin and 800mcg+ of folate (5-MTHF or folinic acid, NOT folic acid).
Another skin issue linked to vitamin deficiency is rough skin when skin is dry. Chronic dry skin and dandruff is often the result of an essential fatty acid deficiency. Both omega-3s and GLAs are important for skin hydration and decrease inflammation from within. A high-quality supplement could include evening primrose oil and krill oil.
Vitamin C is needed for collagen and connective tissue formation. It’s used to manufacture glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in the body. Vitamin C can enhance immune function and help quench free radical damage. A significant vitamin C deficiency or depletion can accelerate aging. Some fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, but cooking and storage methods as well as poor quality sources of food deplete vitamin C content, which is why 23% of the population is deficient and up to 30% if including smokers and poor eaters. Supplementation with at least 250-500mg per day is optimal.
Knowing how skin ailments are linked to vitamin deficiencies is a crucial step to achieving a radiant glowing complexion.
#6 - HORMONAL IMBALANCES
When our hormones are off balance, we are more likely to develop skin problems such as dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles, acne or rosacea-and sometimes more than one of these at the same time. Hormones are biochemical messengers used by the endocrine system to communicate with itself and the rest of the body’s systems.
Hormones are derived from amino acids, phospholipids, and cholesterol, and they play a significant role in many aspects of our health. From our mental focus, memory, and cognition to sex drive, cardiovascular health, bone growth, sugar regulation, and metabolism, an imbalance is one major underlying cause of health problems. Hormones also have a symbiotic relationship with one another, which means when one is out of balance, there is a domino effect which is signaled to other hormones.
While some hormones help protect our skin from blemishes and aging, others can promote these symptoms. For example, the stress hormone cortisol helps us wake up in the morning and remain alert throughout the day but when elevated, it triggers inflammation, which can exacerbate skin problems.
At this point, you are probably wondering which root cause applies to you. There is a good chance more than one, or maybe all, of these factors are holding you back from clear, glowing skin. As with many things in life, it is really all about balance, from your diet, lifestyle choices, and skin care treatments.
Our skin care treatments are specifically formulated to support the skin’s microbiome with a slightly acidic pH, calm inflamed skin, soften the skin to reduce the effect of glycation and the appearance of hardened skin tissue resulting in frown lines, fine lines, and wrinkles, and nourish the skin with essential micronutrients such as Vitamin C, A, E, essential fatty acids, and minerals. Feeding and nourishing the skin with vitamin-rich formulations can provide requisite care during busy periods, where our bodies may suffer from a lack of sleep, or an irregular lifestyle. During these times of stress, skin care rituals that supplement soothing and anti-inflammatory products may assist in repairing the skin.
In the next post, we will go into a bit more detail regarding skin types commonly associated with each cause to learn how to identify (and treat) your underlying skin care issues.
May you always be beautiful.
We are just like you… customers who had skin problems and wanted to create the highest-quality luxurious skin care products that are indulgent, extraordinary, and work. And this is exactly what we do. Therefore, our mission, as the leading skin repair brand, is to unequivocally make a positive impact in people’s lives using potent indigenous organic and natural plant ingredients sourced from West African origin that are proven to heal, nourish, and transform the skin.
- Nedoszytko, Bogusław et al. “Chemokines and Cytokines Network in the Pathogenesis of the Inflammatory Skin Diseases: Atopic Dermatitis, Psoriasis and Skin Mastocytosis.” Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/Postȩpy Dermatologii i Alergologii 31.2 (2014): 84–91. PMC. Web. 4 July 2017.
- Weil, Andrew, M.D. “What is Leaky Gut.” https://www.drweil.com. 12 December 2005
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- Ramprasath, Vanu R et al. “Enhanced Increase of Omega-3 Index in Healthy Individuals with Response to 4-Week N-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation from Krill Oil versus Fish Oil.” Lipids in Health and Disease 12 (2013): 178. PMC. Web. 4 July 2017.