The weather in Brisbane in the last week has been variable to say the least. The first few days my skin felt as dry as old leather. Fortunately for me it didn’t look that way but it made me realise that the humidity has dropped and finally the cooler weather is on its way. Skin dryness or dehydration occurs when the water and oils that form part of the protective layer are out of balance as it is the balance of sebum (skin oil) and perspiration that keeps the skin healthy. This can happen for various reasons that I have outlined below:
1. Evaporation of moisture through the skin. Factors that promote moisture evaporation include dry air (ie lack of humidity in winter, heating or air-conditioning), wind, and prolonged water exposure (swimming in pools or long showers).
2. Damage to the waterproof barrier or disruption of the acid mantle leaving the skin open to issues such as dehydration, roughness, infection, redness and irritation. Synthetic foaming agents such as sodium laurel sulphate are a significant cause of acid mantle disruption.
Choose a richer moisturiser. Generally if you just choose the next richest moisturiser up from your current one. Alternatively, try using your night cream during the day. If it sinks in without a greasy feel, then it is suitable for day use. A few good recommendations include:
3. The inside stuff. What you put into your body also has an impact in skin hydration. Reducing factors that have a diuretic effect such as alcohol and coffee will increase cellular hydration. It is also important to have adequate good fats in the diet. Good fats such as essential fatty acids (EFA’s) ensure the cell membrane remains flexible. This allows the cell to excrete toxins and cellular waste products and hold onto nutrients and water. EFAs also help to keep skin flexible and hydrated and promoting skin healing. Deep Sea fish are among the best source of EFAs including tuna, salmon, anchovies and sardines. Other good sources of EFA’s include avocado, nuts & seeds, flaxoil and Evening Primrose Oil. Keep in mind…
4. Ageing. As we age the production of sebum and natural oils lessens effectively reducing the water holding capacity of our skin. This leads to drier skin. You can counter this by using an oil based serum. Apply the serum under your moisturiser during the day (only use half a pump) or instead of a night cream. Any serum you use should sink into the skin completely within 5 minutes. Our product picks are:
5. Stress increases the likelihood of heightened neuro-sensory reaction in the skin. In situations such as this wind, touch and cosmetic brushes can cause irritation or redness. Managing stress can be quite individual and often required internal nervous system support as well as de-stressing practices such as yoga, breathing exercises or meditation. If your skin becomes red or irritated easily, particularly in dry cold weather, choose products scent free products and nourishing oils
Skin type is predominantly a genetic trait and generally skin type doesn’t change much over your lifetime however, nutritional status, overall health, external factors such as sun damage and aging can cause changes in the integrity of skin making it important to reassess your skin’s needs ensuring you use the appropriate products. Using products that don’t suit your basic skin type can cause numerous skin issues.
There are four key skin types: oily, combination, normal and dry. In addition to the basic skin types, there are skin issues which include congestion, sensitivity and dehydration. You will only ever be one skin type but you may have a number of skin issues. These are not genetic and tend to be the result of diet and lifestyle choices or using skin care that doesn’t suit your skin type. The characteristics of each skin type and issue are listed below. Please remember however, that every skin type is different and if you feel that you don’t fit into any of these types or have any of these issues, contact our skin specialist, who will assist you with a personalized skin analysis and product prescription.
If you know your skin type, click here to view products suited to your skin
Oily Skin – producing too much oil
One of the common issues with oily skin is the use of creams that are too rich for the skin. The misconception is that a rich or heavy cream (by rich I mean including butters and waxes) will have a better moisturising effect. Regardless of the “richness” of a product, if it is chosen to correctly match the skin type, the moisture content and nutritional status of the skin will improve.
The other common misconception with oily skin is that not using a moisturiser at all will help reduce oiliness. Oily skins still need skin nutrition, moisture in the form of water and ingredients that will help to control sebum, the factor that creates “shine”. A good moisturiser for oily will do all of these things.
The benefit of oily skin is that those with oily skin will tend to age more gracefully than their drier-skinned counterparts.
Combination skin – the most common skin type
Many with combination skin tend to go for richer creams to help moisturise the drier sections of skin but this causes issues such as clogging and breakouts with the oily sections. A light but highly nourishing moisturiser combined with an eye cream is a better option than a rich cream. The other thing that is important is regular but gentle exfoliation to get rid of the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. On drier skin this is important to allow mositurisers to penetrate more easily. With the oily skin areas, it stops the buildup of dead skin cells in open pores.
Dry Skin – needs more oil
Dry skin lacks both sebum and moisture due to insufficient production by the sebaceous glands which reduces the cells ability to hold onto moisture. Usually dry skin is delicate with small or no obvious pores and quite fine textured. However, due to the lack of moisture and oil, it is likely to show obvious signs of aging sooner than other skin types such as wrinkles and fine lines. There may also be red or flaky patches evident.
First and foremost it is important with dry skin to prevent further drying out of the skin. To do this it is important to avoid alcohol based products as they worsen dryness. Daily moisturising is essential. It prevents moisture loss and supplies the skin with essential nutrients and oils to keep the cells well nourished. A healthy cell is more likely to hold onto moisture. Avoid foaming cleansers in general and particularly those containing sodium lauryl sulphate as they will disrupt the acid mantle and again reduce the moisture holding capacity of the skin.
Other tips include drinking enough water and eating plenty of essential fatty acids which are found in nuts & seeds, fish and flax oil.
Normal Skin - Neither oily nor dry
Dehydrated Skin – if your skin lacks radiance and feels “tight” it is likely that it is dehydrated. The appearance of fine lines due to loss of elasticity and flexibility are other key signs of dehydrated skin. Moisture evaporates readily through the skin, and if we don’t stop this occurrence our skin loses its ability to protect against the outside environment leading to even more moisture loss and in the long term, actual skin damage due to poor cellular integrity. Check for these signs:
Sensitive Skin - heightened skin sensitivity and adverse reactions to certain irritants characterizes sensitive skin. Common skin irritants include detergents, certain skin care ingredients particularly synthetics and petrochemical ingredients and environmental factors such as heat, sun exposure, cold and wind. There is a strong correlation between dry skin and sensitive skin. Those with thin or finely textured skin are more prone to skin sensitivity. Common characteristics of sensitivity include:
Congested Skin – skin congestion is characterised by blocked pores, dull skin, uneven skin, blackheads and whiteheads.Twitter It!
During this cooler, drier winter weather it can be a battle to maintain skin moisture, particularly if hot showers are a daily event. If you suffer from Eczema, Psoriasis, Dermatitis or Keratosis Pilaris (bumps that commonly occur on the back of arms) you will most likely find that your skin worsens and creams don’t hold moisture as effectively.
One way to overcome this is to use a richer cream in winter than you do for the rest of the year, one that contains Shea or Coconut butter as a base. While oils are great they don’t have the same moisture holding capacity as butters or waxes. So find a cream that contains both waxes or butters and oils and this should go some way to support the skin’s moisture holding capacity. My recommendations for richer skin creams include:
Dry Body Brushing will also significantly help improve skin health whether or not you have a pre-existing skin condition. Personally I have found my skin smoother and more hydrated than ever before due to regular skin brushing (3 times a week minimum) this dry season.
Jodie from Bodecare tells us below how dry brushing improves skin:
The skin is one of the major organs of the body, responsible for ridding the toxins from our system on a daily basis, working alongside the bowel, kidneys and lungs. If any of these elimination systems are not working properly, they will put an extra burden on the other organs. Dry Body Brushing assists the skin with it’s many functions like:
Key things to remember if you do suffer from a dry skin condition:
I for one am sold on dry body brushing. If you are having good results please let us know.Twitter It!
Every year I feel the change of season in my skin. It feels tighter, drier and any colour I achieved during summer starts to fade. The change of season has a big impact on the look and feel of our skin and no amount of makeup will make our skin look good if we haven’t done the prep work (or are genetically gifted) for the oncoming cold weather. Here is how to get prepared…
1. Start by changing your cleanser. If you are using a gel or foaming cleanser it will likely be too strong for the drier winter months. Use a cream cleanser such as La Mav Hydra Calm Cream Cleanser. For very dry, sensitive skin use Haven Scent Coconut Cream Cleanser or oil cleansing with Jojoba oil.
2. Scrub away dead skin cells. This allows the nutrients in your moisturiser or serum to penetrate more deeply as they don’t have to work through layers of dead skin cells. It also prevents your skin becoming clogged due to the richer ingredients used during the cooler months. Your skin will feel smoother and refreshed.
3. Use a Night Serum. Oils are so important for skin nutrition. They penetrate the skin more deeply carrying antioxidants and vitamins with them. Ensuring the cellular membrane of the skin cells is healthy allows nutrients and moisture to be retained within the cell and toxins to be effectively eliminated. Just what we want.
4. Keep your lips moist. Dry, chapped lips are a pain in winter. The wind and cold make it difficult for the thin skin of the lips to retain moisture. Give them a hand by applying lip balm regularly. Those containing beeswax will have greater moisture holding capacity that those based on oils alone.Twitter It!
Skin type can be confusing to pinpoint particularly when you don’t seem to fit into a particular definition. I often have people ask me what their skin type is because they get dry patches around their cheeks and eyes and an oily nose or chin or T-zone. Commonly called combination this skin type can seem inadequate particularly when there are dry, flakey patches of skin combined with breakouts or oily skin that is sometimes oily and sometimes just congested. And really does it matter what it is called when you have no idea how to manage it. Products for oily skin tend to further dry out already dry areas. Products for dry skin just end up causing increased oiliness and/or congestion. This leads me to question how one product range for a particular skin type can actually manage a combination skin.
Of course there are products for combination skin types and these are a good start for mildly oily and dry combination skin types however, if you are experiencing lots of oiliness with dry skin or even dry skin with breakouts, combination skin ranges usually don’t do much to help.
A recent e-mail from a client illustrates this point: I have very (VERY!) oily, congested, red skin that is often itchy and quite sensitive. I usually have anywhere from 5 to 40 pimples at one time (usually those horrible deep ones that hurt!). I also tend to get eczema, although this is usually on my hands and arms and very rarely on my face, but that may be what is making my face so itchy lately. I can actually feel how congested my skin is and the oil is very hard to control. Any products I use for oily skin often leave my skin feeling tight and itchy. Please help!!
My answer took into account a number of factors which include:
So my reply was: The very first and most important thing I want to say is that the oiliness of your skin together with concurrent dry patches and eczema is likely a reflection of an internal imbalance of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and possibly also B vitamins. It is quite tricky to get EFAs out to the skin as the critical organs such as the heart and brain use them first. So I recommend the drink below as a really quick way of boosting your skin levels which will help relieve dryness and balance out oiliness in about 7-10 days. I have put the recipe below.
In addition I recommend the Remedica Clair Visage at night. This will help to balance the acid mantle of your skin which is currently not protecting your skin. It is a very light oil/hydrosol based serum which will help to nourish skin without contributing to congestion (Editors note: remember from previous blogs that you can use molecularly light oils on oily skin and it will actually help rather than hinder the condition). During the day I recommend the Treasured Earth Balancing Lotion. Daytime is when a lotion is needed rather than an oil as they help to prevent water loss when you are out and about. It is a light but nourishing product. Couple this with the Treasured Earth Mango Cleanser. It is an effective cleanser that doesnt strip the skin. One of the worst things you can do for your skin is to dry it out in hopes that it will stop oil production. Overwashing or using harsh cleansers dries out your skin and causes irritation and inflammation. Your skin will take that as a signal to produce more oil and therefore more acne lesions.
If you find the area around your eyes is particularly dry, use an eye cream. There are no sebaceous glads around the eyes and as such this area is more prone to losing moisture. Any eye cream you use can be richer than the day moisturiser. In effect we are managing your skin in zones, treating the dry areas differently from the oily areas. The Treasured Earth Rose Eye Cream is a nourishing eye cream without being too rich.
Lemon Flax Drink
Blend on high for 30 seconds. This makes one serve. You can double the quantity and have it before lunch or dinner as well.
Let me know how you go…you may not love the taste but it does such good things for your body.
To help you manage the underlying cause of the breakouts have a look at our Acne Information Page.
As with all things, sometimes we just don’t fit into a neat category. In these cases, don’t give up – look outside the box and try a different solution.
One of the product formulators I admire, Lisa Phipps (creator of the Remedica range) recently wrote an article titled “Skin Care Truths”. I agree with so much of what Lisa has to say particularly about the use of skin nutritional oils and skin hydration. In this blog I have included some of Lisa’s comments about skin hydration and how to achieve well hydrated skin. Lisa writes:
Hydration means more than just drinking enough water.
While drinking plenty of water means assisting metabolic mechanisms such as optimum digestion, organ health and elimination of toxins, it is important to know that drinking buckets of water will not translate to plumped hydrated skin surface. When we want to obtain optimum hydration of the skin 3 things are necessary:
Examples of humectants range from 100% synthetics to synthetically modified naturals and 100% natural ingredients. Lecithin, glycerine, sodium lactate, sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) or some of my favourites. Water IS NOT a humectant. Water is an example of a natural chemical compound that when it evaporates it takes existing moisture with it. So when you apply a simple rose water or lavender water that is advertised as being a hydrating mist, unless the formula contains ingredients that when compounded assist in “occlusion”, retaining moisture or blocking loss of moisture they will have no real meaning to skin care other than temporary relief. Any topically applied Hydrating formula worth its money must be a combination of humectants and occlusives. Simply put, humectants function in water soluble environments such as a water base BUT occlusives function in oil soluble environments such as olive oil, jojoba, tamanu oil, baobab etc. Humectants attract water molecules from the atmosphere and bind that moisture to the skin however the occlusives retain or lock that moisture in so it is not then lost back to the surrounding air.
What is the difference between hydration and protection from dehydration?
Hydration means just that – hydrating the skin….attracting moisture from the atmosphere and binding that moisture to the skin. Protection against dehydration is the “occlusive” mechanism in place to support the skin from not loosing excess moisture. Natural products best used for protecting against dehydration are those formulated with higher lipid (oil), content. 100% oil products would of course offer the most protection against dehydration. The level of comfort to the skin and rate of absorption however would be determined by the individual formulation. Some oils are heavy and some oils are light. Rose hip is an example of heavy oil that is too dense and too nourishing for some skin. Baobab is an example of highly nourishing oil with a very fast absorption rate. This all comes down to personal preference.
When is the best time to concern oneself with protection against dehydration?
Well, of course as stated above, it is always important to incorporate “occlusives” in ones skin care but overall the easiest way to assist the skin in repair, nourishment and protection against dehydration is at night. We are vulnerable to dehydration while we sleep. Using an oil preparation while we sleep is an excellent and simple way to assist the skin in retaining moisture. As mentioned some oils are appropriate and some are not. It is important to always ask about the suitability of the oils in question for your skin type when purchasing.
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Apart from the myriad of other symptoms, the onset of menopause can cause considerable skin changes in women. Symptoms range from dry, itchy skin to increased oil, thinning skin and acne breakouts.
Changes in hormones, particularly estrogen are responsible for many of the body changes during menopause including skin issues. The role of estrogen in the skin is to stimulate the formation of collagen and oil production. As menopause approaches the levels of estrogen drop and dry skin becomes very common. Increased oiliness and acne-breakouts are less common but also may occur initially as the hormonal profile begins to change. In this case estrogen may drop relative to testosterone which then drives oilier skin. Then as all hormones lower, the body’s oil production decreases as does the oiliness. Due to the reduction in oil production, the oil’s skin-protective effect decreases as does the body’s ability to hold onto moisture.
While dry skin may occur anywhere on the body, from elbows to face to legs, even the nail bed, itchiness tends to be limited to hands.
While these changes are an inevitable result of menopause, there are many ways to manage the skin effects and slow permanent changes.
Manage Dry Skin
Manage Oily Skin
Maintain Skin Collagen Levels
This question from a customer is interesting because it details a number of skin issues at once and the question is then, what to do first? Can everything be managed at once? I have a method for improving pretty much any skin condition or issue that I am asked about and I have outlined it below. It starts at the foundation of good skin health and progresses from there. This questions illustrates the process:
Q: Firstly, thank you for all the excellent information you provide via your blog, newsletter and mini skin care course. It really is very good especially since there is so much (misleading) information out there. My email is regarding the following:
I have been using Akin products for some time now but I think it is time for change. I am 36 and I have noticed that my skin condition has changed significantly in the last 5 years. I think I need to change to skin care specifically for slowing the ageing process.
I have very dry skin (I often reapply moisturizer in the afternoon), my skin is losing elasticity, wrinkles are certainly visible, I have some sun damage and hormone spots from pregnancies. I am fair and my skin is delicate.
Can you help me with advice on:
A: Reading your e-mail I suggest we work with the skin issues you have outlined in the following way (in order of priority):
1. repair dehydration and correct nutrient status – at the very outset, this will help your skin to plump out and look younger. It is also the basis for healthy skin.
2. correct sun damage – this will take about 3 months but will really make a difference to your skin. Sun damage is a visible sign of skin ageing. It is at this stage that any other skin issues are addressed e.g. pigmentation, rosacea, irritation
3. support slow ageing – some of what we do above will be slow ageing but once your skin is hydrated and sun protected, we can look at longer term slow aging. The reason I put anti-aging 3rd is that by addressing the other issues (if they are present) you will achieve healthier, younger looking skin anyway. Then we can start with specific anti-aging skin care.
For dry skin, choose a lotion cleanser instead of a gel cleanser. The AUM Brightening Cream Cleanser is ideal as it also contains enzymes to help clear congestion and reduce sun damage but is gentle on dry skin at the same time. Use an oil serum at night to help improve the moisture holding capacity of the skin cells. You can apply the serum instead of a night cream. Any serum you use should sink into the skin completely within 5 minutes. Remedica Regenerate Visage will nourish the skin deeply and more than that, help improve the skin cell health due to the high antioxidant and essential fatty acid levels. Then address sun damage. I suggest a moisturiser with a natural sunscreen agent such as Devita Solar Protect (SPF 30). If it feels too light, use half a pump of Regenerate Visage and then apply the Solar Protect over the top.
With existing sun damage you have a couple of options. You can cover it up (and I am going to suggest a make up below) and/or you can fade back the pigmentation using a natural skin brightening serum. I used the Devita Skin Brightening Serum with great effect myself this year. Pigmentation I thought would never fade has and I have skin quite similar to yours – fair & dry.
It will take about 3 weeks for you to really see a difference in your skin hydration and at about 3 months, the pigmentation should start to fade back significantly. After 4-6 months we can look at some more specific slow aging products such as vitamin C serums etc but until then, they won’t be as effective as they could be.
I would love to hear if you have a similar story and what you have done to manage either dry or pigmented skin.
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