top of page

The Basics of Skin Health and Care: Practical Guidance

Updated: Jun 11

Our skin is an incredible organ, the largest in our bodies, so let’s look at the basics of skin health and care.  Skin serves as the first line of defence against the outside world. It protects us from harmful elements, regulates our body temperature, and allows us to feel sensations like touch and pain. To keep your skin healthy and glowing, it's essential to understand how it works and how to take care of it through a balanced diet and natural products.


The Structure and Function of Skin


Did you know that skin is a very complex organ? Medical News Today states that ‘an average square inch of skin contains 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, and more than 1,000 nerve endings.’ Our skin is composed of three main layers:

the basics of skin health and care - Illustration of a cross-section of skin labelled in 3 areas, Epidermis, Dermis and Hyperdermis

Epidermis:


The outermost layer that provides a waterproof barrier, a protective layer and creates our skin tone. It’s home to skin cells, pigments, and proteins. The Epidermis is made up of five layers, each varying in thickness. Humans shed over 500 million skin cells a day; however, the Epidermis is equally constantly creating new cells in the lower layers to replace the lost ones.


Dermis:


Located beneath the epidermis, this layer contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, sensory neurons and sweat glands. It’s rich in collagen and elastin, which provide strength and elasticity. The Dermis is the thickest layer of skin but can stretch a lot, like during a pregnancy. However, it can tear and will show up as stretch marks later.


Hypodermis or Subcutis:


The deeper subcutaneous tissue made of fat and connective tissue that insulates the body and protects underlying muscles and other structures. The Hypodermis also provides the skin with nerves and blood supply.


Daily Functions of the Skin


  • Protection: Shields against UV radiation, pollutants, and pathogens.

  • Sensation: Contains sensory receptors for touch, temperature, and pain.

  • Regulation: Controls body temperature through sweat and blood flow.

  • Synthesis: Produces Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.


The Basics of Skin Health and Care: Skin Colour


the basics of skin health and care - four individual images of models with different coloured skin, white, Asian, Mediterranean and Black

Skin colour is determined primarily by the pigment melanin. This is produced by specialised cells called melanocytes located in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. Melanin comes in two main forms, eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin is brown or black, and pheomelanin is red or yellow. The amount and type of melanin produced by melanocytes, as well as its distribution within the skin, are influenced by genetic factors and, to a lesser extent, environmental factors such as sun exposure. When exposed to UV radiation, melanocytes increase melanin production, leading to tanning as a protective response. This complex interplay of genetics and environmental factors results in the wide variety of human skin tones observed across different populations.


How to Nourish Your Skin with a Healthy Diet


Nutrition profoundly impacts skin health, with a well-balanced diet fostering a glowing complexion and poor nutrition leading to various skin problems. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats supports skin structure and function, with nutrients like Vitamin C and E protecting against free radical damage and omega-3 fatty acids maintaining skin hydration and elasticity. Conversely, diets high in sugar and processed foods can trigger inflammation, causing issues like acne and premature aging.

Additionally, good gut health plays a crucial role in skin health. A balanced gut microbiome enhances nutrient absorption and boosts the immune system, helping to fend off skin infections and inflammatory conditions. Probiotics and fibre-rich foods promote a healthy gut flora, which can reduce systemic inflammation and improve skin clarity and resilience, creating a synergistic effect between gut and skin health. Therefore, follow these simple steps to improve your skin health:


the basics of skin health and care - images of a glass of water, berries, nuts, dark chocolate, seaweed, leafy greens, citrus fruit and flaxseed

Hydrate: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and flush out toxins.


Antioxidants: Foods rich in antioxidants, like berries, nuts, and dark chocolate, help protect your skin from damage.


Healthy Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids found in seaweed, flaxseeds, and walnuts help maintain your skin's lipid barrier and reduce inflammation.


Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as zinc, play crucial roles in skin repair and maintenance. Incorporate leafy greens, citrus fruits, and seeds into your diet.


Limit Sugar and Processed Foods: High sugar intake can lead to glycation, which damages collagen and accelerates aging. Stick to whole foods and limit processed snacks.


The Basics of Skin Health and Care: Skin PH


Skin pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the skin is, typically ranging from 4.5 to 5.5, which is slightly acidic. This acidity is crucial as it helps maintain the skin's barrier function, protecting against harmful bacteria, pollutants, and irritants while preserving moisture. A balanced pH supports the growth of beneficial microorganisms and enzymes that keep the skin healthy and resilient. Disruptions in skin pH can lead to dryness, irritation, acne, and infections.


To maintain a healthy skin pH, it's important to use gentle, pH-balanced skincare products, avoid harsh soaps and cleansers, and incorporate natural moisturisers like aloe vera and hyaluronic acid. Additionally, as previously outlined, a balanced diet and adequate hydration can support overall skin health, contributing to the maintenance of optimal skin pH levels. For more detailed information about skin pH consider reading this fascinating article by The Secret Life Of Skin.


The Effect of Stress on the Skin


Stress can significantly impact the skin in various ways, often exacerbating existing conditions and triggering new issues. Chronic stress increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that can lead to excess oil production, resulting in acne breakouts. Stress also impairs the skin's barrier function, reducing its ability to retain moisture and protect against external irritants, which can cause dryness, redness, and sensitivity. Additionally, stress-induced inflammation can worsen conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. The skin's ability to repair and regenerate is also hindered under stress, slowing wound healing, and accelerating the aging process, leading to fine lines and wrinkles. Virginia L Vega PhD, founder, and CEO of FlawlessCanvas, states in a LinkedIn article that ‘what is even worse, constant stress prevents repair and decreases efficacy of anti-aging skincare routines.’ Managing stress through relaxation techniques, adequate sleep, and a balanced lifestyle can help mitigate these effects and promote healthier skin.


Ever Tried Face Yoga?



the basics of skin health and care - A black model with her hands on her face doing facial massage

Face yoga, a series of facial exercises designed to tone and relax the muscles of the face, can be a beneficial addition to your daily skincare routine. These exercises promote blood circulation, enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells, which can result in a brighter, more youthful complexion. Regular practice of face yoga helps to firm sagging skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and improve overall skin elasticity.


In addition to the physical benefits, the mindfulness aspect of face yoga can reduce stress, which in turn minimises stress-related skin issues such as acne and inflammation. Incorporating face yoga into your daily routine, even for just a few minutes, can complement other skincare practices, leading to a healthier, more radiant appearance over time. For guidance in Face Yoga, please get in touch with me, Kris Davies, a fully qualified Face Yoga expert.


Natural Products for Skin Care


Using natural products can be a gentle and effective way to care for your skin. Here are some tips and ingredients to consider:


Cleansing:
  1. Honey: A natural antibacterial that cleanses without stripping moisture.

  2. Aloe Vera: Soothes and hydrates while providing a gentle cleanse.


Exfoliating:
  1. Oatmeal: A mild exfoliant that removes dead skin cells and soothes irritation.

  2. Sugar Scrubs: Combine sugar with coconut oil for a moisturising scrub.


Moisturising:
  1. Coconut Oil: Penetrates deep into the skin to provide lasting moisture.

  2. Shea Butter: Rich in vitamins A and E, it nourishes and softens the skin.


Treating:
  1. Tea Tree Oil: A powerful antiseptic for treating acne.

  2. Rosehip Oil: High in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, great for reducing scars and pigmentation.


Sun Protection:
  1. Eat The Following Foods: Some foods offer a natural sunscreen protection from the inside. Watermelon and tomatoes that is high in Lycopene creates an inner sunscreen. Likewise, cacao flavanols, beta carotene high foods such as mango, carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe melon plus many more. The cells create protection from within. Look out for future blogs about this topic!


Tips for a Healthy Skin Routine


a beautiful model, head and shoulders shot with no clothes, with her hands raised framing her face and the words Skin Energy

Stay Consistent: Establish a daily skincare routine that includes cleansing and moisturising.


Be Gentle: Avoid harsh scrubs and over-exfoliating, which can damage your skin barrier.


Manage Stress: High stress levels can trigger skin issues like acne and eczema. Practice stress-relief techniques such as yoga or meditation.


Get Enough Sleep: Your skin repairs itself while you sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.


Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol: These habits can accelerate skin aging and reduce skin elasticity.


The Basics of Skin Health and Care - Conclusion


Your skin reflects your overall health. By understanding its structure and functions, and by nourishing it with a healthy diet and natural skincare products, you can maintain a vibrant and youthful complexion. Remember, what you put into your body is just as important as what you put on your skin. Embrace a holistic approach to the basics of skin health and care for the best results.


Taking these steps not only improves the appearance of your skin but also enhances its health and resilience, allowing you to glow from the inside out. For more help and guidance please visit my website, Skin Energy and get in touch.

Comments


bottom of page