Your skin. Despite it being such a large part of the body, a lot people know very little about what actually benefits the skin and what doesn't, other than what they are lead to believe by skin care companies trying to market their products.
The body produces millions of new epidermal cells every day at the basal layer of the epidermis, whilst old dead skin cells on the outer layer of the skin continually flake off. This means you really do have the ablity to improve the health of your skin.
To help you do this, here are a few facts and some tips on what is good for your skin and what is not, from a holistic, natural perspective:
Nourish the skin from the inside. The skin, not unlike the rest of the body, thrives on a good supply of nutrients. Some of the best nutrients for skin health are: vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and essential fatty acids. A diet high in raw vegetables and fruits is recommended. They not only provide beneficial nutrients for skin cells, but they also help with detoxification of the body, reducing the amount of toxins being excreted via the skin.
Avoid using skin care products and make-up (or basically anything that comes into contact with the skin) that contains chemical ingredients.
Nourish the skin from the outside. There are many natural substances that help nourish the skin, the key point being the word 'natural'. Just beware, there are a lot of products on the market that use some type of reference to being natural, whether it's in the name, a picture on packaging, or there's one or two natural ingredients in the product, so they call it natural. This is known as "green-washing", making people believe they are using something natural, but in reality it contains many unnatural ingredients. A completely natural, simple, effective way to nourish the skin from the outside, is via the application of organic, extra virgin, cold-pressed fruit/vegetable and nut oils on to the skin. A favourite oil for the skin is organic coconut oil. It is an effective emollient that is easily absorbed into the skin, and as an added bonus, it also smells good. Aloe vera is also good for the skin as it promotes skin cell renewal.
Avoid using anti-bacterial skin products as they disrupt the balance of beneficial, symbiotic bacteria that live on the skin, which help to improve resistance to bad bacteria. Plus, anti-bacterial soaps and lotions are not really necessary because the body comes fully equipped with it's own bacterial defence mechanism known as the acid mantle, which inhibits the growth of detrimental bacteria on the skin. Many soaps contain chemicals and synthetic substances that upset the skin's natural function, sometimes to the point of causing skin irritation, therefore it is best to just wash the hands with water, or use a nutrient-rich, organic, natural soap to maintain skin health.
It is a well known fact that prolonged sun exposure can be damaging to the skin, even to the point of causing skin cancer. However a little bit of sunlight on the skin everyday is good for health and well-being because proteins in the skin convert modified cholesterol molecules to vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Protect the skin from prolonged exposure to the sun by either covering up or seeking shade. Sun block lotions that contain chemical ingredients are not recommended. The body is trying to rid itself of toxins, so by lathering chemical sun-blocks on to the skin, you are really just over-burdening the body's detoxification pathways. And because new cells are constantly being formed in the skin, you don't want to be feeding them a chemical soup, as a lot of chemicals are carcinogenic, so the very thing you're trying to prevent by putting sun-block on, can actually be exacerbated by it's application. It is best to use a totally natural, organic sunblock.
If you accidently do get sunburnt, immediately, or as soon as possible, treat the burnt skin with either a cooled infusion of lavender or a few drops of organic lavender essential oil. Lavender s very effective for reducing the redness and inflammation of burns, fast-tracking the healing process. The inner gelatinous gel of the aloe vera plant and coconut oil are also both cooling and healing.
An interesting fact: freckles occur on the skin when melanin, which is produced by skin cells when the skin is exposed to sunlight, is overly concentrated in one spot rather than evenly produced as occurs in tanning of the skin. Melanin is actually produced in the skin to help protect the DNA of skin cells from the damaging effects of exposure to the ultra-volet rays of the sun. This is why brown dark-skinned people that produce a lot more melanin in the skin are less prone to skin cancer than white fair-skinned people.
Brown spots that generally start apearing on aging people's skin, can be due to poor liver function, which is why they are also referred to as liver spots.
Look after the liver and kidneys. these organs play an important role in the removal of toxins and waste products from the body. If they become over-burdened, more toxins and waste products will make their way to the skin, with the potential to cause skin problems. It is also important to maintain healthy functioning of the lymphatic system, as it also assists with the removal of waste products and toxins away from the body tissues.
Gentle dry brushing can be beneficial for the skin as it helps in removing the older dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, and also stimulates blood and lymph flow, to assist with the removal of wastes away from the skin and transportation of nutrients to the skin. After dry brushing, take a shower using alternate hot and cold temperatures, then oil the skin to nourish and soften the newly exposed skin surface.
Drink plenty of water. This helps hydrate the skin and assists detoxification and nutrient transportation.