Skincare is a subcategory of healthcare in my book. Go to any dermatologist for a healthy skin checkup and you can get recommended a skincare routine, complete with SPF. Doctors recommend skincare routines because hygiene and skincare practices affect skin health. In fact, many behaviors and environmental factors influence skin health, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, not all skincare products seem to recognize that skin is an organ- that it has specific requirements in order to maintain homeostasis. There is a strong intuition (fueled by marketing and misinformation in order to drive sales) that skin needs all natural, chemical free, whole plant, raw food ingredients applied topically, and that you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat. Makes sense, right? Not really, and here's why:
Everything is chemical. From the air we breathe, to all of our bodies processes. Chemicals, baby! Your skin is no exception. Your skin needs very specific chemicals in order to function, and if we want topicals to perform, then we can't start smooshing raw oranges on our face just because they contain SOME of the chemicals our skin CAN use. This has to do with things like molecular weight, PPM, stability, bioavailability, PH, safety (chemical burn much), reactivity, drivers, purity, etc. Does this sound complicated to you? Great, because it honestly is and cosmetic chemists are experts with decades of collective knowledge on safety and efficacy, and there has been some damn fine work in this field to help us maintain skin health through OTC topicals. Science is awesome, but we will touch on science literacy and my personal affinity for the scientific realm in another post.
Bottom line: slathering foods on your skin is silly because your skin is an organ without a digestive system to break down nutrients from food in order for your skin to use them. It can do a lot of cool things like chemical conversions and wound healing but it can only do what it can do. We don't expect our liver to be our lungs, and we shouldn't treat our skin like our intestines. To obscure things further, topical products generally have a low absorption rates (skin naturally repels water based ingredients) and it is very difficult (and not necessarily helpful) to formulate products that cause ingredients to absorb into the deeper layers of your skin. I understand that there are concerns that chemicals are are toxic, and old tropes like “cleanse, tone and moisturize” that are making the assimilation of true information difficult for consumers, so if you're sitting there with your organic rosewater toner, there is zero judgement over here: I am here to help...and also that probably smells amazing.
One of the most common misconceptions I have heard in the treatment room over the past decade is that skincare is unnecessary since our skin will function on its own naturally and that we shouldn't intervene. I'll just say a couple of things about that: Death is natural. Acne is natural. Cancer is natural. All aging is damage. You sure you want to go the natural route, or are you into skin health after all?
The nice thing is that healthy skin IS beautiful skin. It's that simple. Want cute skin? Improve your skin health and improve your overall health. If you are on information overload, are paralyzed with choices and don't know where to start, then finding a knowledgeable esthetician is a great place to begin. I love to educate my clients so that they can get control of their skin and feel confident with their everyday bare face, but if you have found what works for you then great! This blog is for everyone else.
Skincare is a booming industry, but most products on the market have not been tested, aren’t required to back up their claims, and the large majority of products on the market aren’t science based, so stay tuned for my next post on this so we can delve a little deeper.
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