What is Your Skin Trying to Tell You?
The mind and body are not separate units, but one integrated system. How we act and what we think, eat, and feel are all related to our health.
In the body’s infinite wisdom, our skin is considered a non-essential if there are other more important needs going on. Blood flow and nutrients may be needed elsewhere especially if the body is under stress and the fight or flight response has been triggered. This is why managing stress is so important for our overall beauty and our health!
The cells that are fed in the underlying skin dermis are depending on us to provide the essential nutrients they need for building beautiful glowing skin. This is also why it is never enough to work solely from the outside of the skin topically. We must also nourish and feed it with good solid nutrition; to nourish the skin from the inside.
That said, the skin will react and give us some information if we learn how to read it, and there are many things we can do to make it happier.
The skin is our largest vital organ so lets take a closer look at it.
Skin covers an average of eighteen square feet and weighs around 7 pounds.
In a square centimeter there are:
- one hundred sweat glands
- twelve feet of nerves
- hundreds of nerve endings
- ten hair follicles
- fifteen sebaceous glands
- three feet of blood vessels
- and hundreds of sensory receptors for pain, pressure, touch, heat and cold.
Unbroken, the skin is a protective barrier and our first line of defense against disease and bacterial invasion. It regulates body temperature by constricting blood vessels in cold temperatures to preserve body heat and producing sweat in warm temperatures to cool the body by water evaporation. Sweating is also one of the ways the body eliminates toxins. Including skin, there are five vital organs that eliminate waste: the liver, lungs, intestines and kidneys.
The skin is our largest sensory organ, sending neurological messages to the brain.
It breathes (takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide), manufactures vitamin D and protects the body from ultraviolet damage from the sun.
The skin acts as a protective barrier in three specific ways.
- It keeps out harmful bacteria by secreting a fatty substance (sebum) that is a bactericide, fungicide and lubricant. Sebum mixes with perspiration and dead cells on the surface forming the acid mantle (pH 4-5) which has anti-bacterial properties. It can be easily disturbed by over washing or by the use of products with harmful chemicals.
- The skin protects the body from ultraviolet radiation from the sun by producing melanin which absorbs the rays. Melanin is also what gives skin it’s varying shades of color, from white to darkest brown/black.
- The skin’s subcutaneous layer also absorbs shocks and blows to protect the internal organs, muscles and tissue.
In addition to sebaceous glands that secrete sebum and the sudoriferous glands that produce sweat, there is keratin, a product of skin metabolism that transforms soft living cells into hardened, non-living protective cells. It comes in two forms: hard as found in hair and nails, and soft as found in skin. Keratin contains the elements of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus, oxygen and sulphur. Hard keratin has a large amount of sulphur, and has no tendency to break off or flake away, but remains in a continuous structure. Soft keratin contains more moisture, a small percentage of fats and sheds continually. Every month we completely regenerate the outside layer of our skin although this process begins to slow down as we age. Here’s where good skin care practices CAN make a difference.
Next month I’ll show you how to best care for skin, and how to read the warning signs that your skin is giving you.
Here’s a quick tip: Never go to bed without washing your face no matter what time it is. No exceptions!
For now, enjoy The Never List, a handy tool that Beauty Counter has created to let you know what to avoid when buying cosmetics and skin care products.
- Physiology Of The Skin by Peter Pugliese MD,
- Chinese Medicine by Tom Williams
- Principles of Holistic Therapy with Herbal Essences by Dettrich Gumbel