Here at CV Skinlabs, we often talk about the importance of healthy skin.
The skin is the largest organ we have, and just like the heart, lungs, and stomach, it requires nutrients and care to perform optimally.
In today’s modern world of selfies and video chats, however, it’s easy to get wrapped up more in how skin looks than how healthy it is. We see these pictures of ourselves and go, “Ugh, there are those fine lines, there is that hyperpigmentation, there is that dryness,” and out we go to try to find ways to cover all that up.
The problem is that cover-ups rarely work. The result is a heavily made-up look that appears unnatural and overdone. In the end, it’s healthy skin that is the most beautiful skin, so if you want to look your best, you need to take care of the skin from the inside, out.
Why Healthy Skin Matters More Than Pretty Skin
The condition of your skin matters for a number of health reasons, but the first one is protection. Your skin is your first line of defense when it comes to bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other potential organisms that can harm you.
These organisms are always looking for a way to get inside your body. If your skin is healthy, hydrated, and has a strong outer barrier, it will keep these microorganisms away, stopping them from gaining entrance into your more vulnerable interior tissues.
Healthy skin also has specialized immune cells that help fight off invading organisms. These are disease-fighting immune cells that combat dangerous microbes like Staphyloccoccus and various types of fungi. And these specialized skin cells are able to protect you without triggering inflammation—a bonus, since an immune reaction often involves inflammation.
If skin is dry, flaky, cracked, or inflamed, however, the skin is less likely to be able to shield you from these little bugs, which increases your risk not only of skin infections, but of the cold and flu or other illnesses as well. Unhealthy skin is also less likely to protect you from potentially dangerous chemicals, like preservatives and sulfates in your personal care products. These ingredients can more easily penetrate dry and thin outer layers to sink into the bloodstream, where they may cause damage.
Skin that is unhealthy is more likely to become inflamed, which leads to redness, accelerated aging, and acne breakouts. Inflammation in the skin causes elastin and collagen to deteriorate and eventually collapse, which leads to that saggy baggy look that nobody likes. Inflammation that is not addressed can also lead to other skin problems like eczema, rosacea, and dermatitis. All of these conditions involve an unhealthy outer layer, leaving skin vulnerable to environmental factors that can cause allergic and other chemical reactions.
The skin is also home to its own unique collection of beneficial bacteria. You’ve heard how you have good and bad bacteria in your gut, right? And you can feed the “good” bacteria by consuming probiotics in foods like yogurt and kefir. Well, turns out the skin has its own group of beneficial bacteria, just like the digestive system, and these bacteria are very important for skin health.
In a 2018 study, scientists discovered that some of that skin bacteria may be responsible for protecting you from skin cancer. They compared mice that lacked a certain type of bacteria in their skin to those that had the bacteria, and found that those without the bacteria had more skin tumors after they were exposed to cancer-causing ultraviolet rays.
“There is increasing evidence that the skin microbiome is an important element of human health,” said Richard Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Commenting on the fact that the study identified a strain of bacteria common on healthy human skin that could inhibit the growth of some cancers, he said, “This unique strain of skin bacteria produces a chemical that kills several types of cancer cells but does not appear to be toxic to normal cells.”
Skin also helps hold body fluids in, preventing dehydration, and makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun, which is critical to long-term health. It can alert you to health issues, as well. If you’re skin is super dry, for example, it may indicate another health problem, like high blood sugar levels or an underactive thyroid. If you’re breaking out, it could be a sign of excessive stress or an unhealthy diet. If your skin is dull and lifeless, it could be that your circulation is not as good as it should be, or that you need to get more antioxidants in your daily diet.
Tips to Keep Your Skin as Healthy as Possible
We’re now officially entering the warmer part of the year, so to protect your skin and make sure it’s as healthy as it can be, remember to always follow these tips:
- Protect from the sun: It typically takes only about 15-30 minutes in the sun to get all the vitamin D you need. If you have fair skin, though, you may want to rely on vitamin D supplements instead. Most of the time, protect your skin with hats, umbrellas, clothes, and a safe sunscreen like zinc oxide.
- Stay hydrated: Healthy skin is hydrated skin, so drink plenty of water throughout the day, eat water-rich fruits like melons and citrus, and regularly use a moisturizer that’s appropriate for your skin. If you’re out and about or flying on a plane, use our Rescue + Relief Spray to give skin that instant hydrating boost.
- Opt for safe and natural skin care products: Avoid harsh sulfates and other inflammatory ingredients in standard products and nourish your skin with real oils, vitamins, butters, and other solutions that keep skin healthy.
- Adopt a healthy skin–care routine: You know how to keep your teeth healthy—with regular brushing and flossing, right? You need the same sort of daily commitment to good skin care. Every morning and night, you should be cleansing and moisturizing, using serums between those two steps to help counteract aging. Consistently careful skin care is the key to your most optimal skin!
How do you keep your skin healthy?
Nakatsuji, T., Chen, T. H., Butcher, A. M., Trzoss, L. L., Nam, S., Shirakawa, K. T., … Gallo, R. L. (2018). A commensal strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis protects against skin neoplasia. Science Advances, 4(2), eaao4502. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aao4502
NIH. (2015, September 22). Skin Microbes and the Immune Response. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/skin-microbes-immune-response