Imagine a cake with several layers. Then imagine icing spread between each layer. The cake is wrapped in saran wrap to keep the pastry fresh, and the saran wrap — a thin, smooth layer — takes on the consistency and quality of the layers underneath it. The saran wrap will only be smooth and flawless if the icing is spread perfectly.
This is the analogy that the University of Iowa Hospital’s dermatology department uses to describe the way healthy skin works. While many people treat the surface of their skin, it’s the layers underneath that have the greatest effect on the skin’s outward appearance. Skin, like all crucial parts of the body, benefits from a multi-faceted, holistic approach to care.
Culprits of Unhealthy Skin
Several factors contribute to skin health. These factors can be broken down into five categories:
A hormone imbalance in the body can cause excessive androgen production, which in turn causes enlargement in the sebaceous glands. When these glands enlarge, they also increase their levels of sebum, a natural lubricant and human oil that gets trapped in hair follicles that lie under the surface of dead skin cells. The sebum mixes with the dead skin and clogs the pore, creating a pimple. The pimple will grow under the surface for a few days until the hair follicle breaks through the skin, bringing the sebum with it.
Teenagers are most susceptible to acne during puberty. But among adults 20 years old and over, roughly 30% of women and 20% of men experience acne due to a hormone imbalance.
While some studies have concluded that stress is not a factor in an acne outbreak, other research demonstrates that stress stimulates the adrenal glands, causing them to produce additional hormones. These hormones can cause an imbalance that slows down the acne healing process and actually worsens symptoms.
An unhealthy diet comprised of processed foods can also cause acne breakouts, especially when the diet does not contain foods with high nutritional value such as fruits and vegetables. Drinking the recommended amount of water per day will also help rejuvenate the skin. It’s also helpful to avoid or limit alcohol intake, because alcohol dehydrates the body and the skin.
Sleep is the best tool in a person’s beauty regimen. Seven to eight hours of sleep every night will keep a person’s hormones in check. Additionally, getting enough sleep prevents baggy eyes and splotchy cheeks, giving the skin a radiant glow.
Because the environment can also irritate skin, limit exposure to air pollution such as smoky environments, the sun and harmful UV rays, and harsh weather.
Most dermatologists recommend washing the skin twice a day to clean pores and remove excess oils from the face. Clogged pores do not receive sufficient oxygen, often leading to breakouts. Furthermore, people who struggle with acne often misuse or overuse cosmetics, which can exacerbate imbalances in the natural oils on the surface of the skin. Follow directions on the label and use products that work best with your skin type.
Holistic Methods to Treat Healthy Skin
In addition to avoiding factors that irritate the skin, there are also plenty of holistic treatments that can clear up skin and give it a healthy glow. These include:
Most cosmetologists recommend using a mild facial cleanser to remove makeup, oils, and environmental contaminants twice a day: in the morning before leaving the house and in the evening before going to bed.
When seeking treatment from a dermatologist, consider a vitamin A infusion peel and a double infusion medi-facial. The vitamin A infusion peel eliminates scar tissue, helps prevent further acne scarring, and strengthens the immune function of the skin. The double infusion medi-facial uses a blend of hydrogen peroxide, acids, and enzymes to combat any skin problems with a deep clean.
Additionally, weekly or twice-weekly exfoliation removes dead skin cells and oil from the surface of the skin. Instead of buying expensive creams and lotions, which are often full of preservatives, you can also make custom mixtures at home. Here are some helpful recipes for facemasks:
- 1 tsp. of clay, ½ tsp. sandalwood powder, ¼ tsp. of rose leaves powder, and a dash of turmeric powder mixed into honey
- 6 rose petals, 2 tablespoons of rosewater, 1 tablespoon of natural yogurt at room temperature, and 1 tablespoon of warmed honey
- 1 tablespoon of finely ground oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of natural yogurt, and a few drops of honey
For each recipe, mix all the ingredients together in a small container. Apply the facemask mixture to the face and neck one to two times a week. Each time, let the mask dry for 10-15 minutes before washing it off with a warm, wet cloth.
Drinking at least half an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day helps flush toxins and bacteria from one’s system. Switching to a diet that’s free of common foods that cause allergies, including wheat, gluten grains, dairy, and legumes, will help keep breakouts from happening. A diet high in fruits and vegetables will help with detoxification, and the nutrients in these foods will keep skin glowing.
Facial acupuncture kills acne bacteria, helps the skin heal faster after acne breakouts, and boosts the overall health of the treated skin. You can also try a traditional body acupuncture, which goes below the surface to address hormone imbalances that cause acne in the first place.
These techniques approach skin comprehensively, by addressing all of the factors that determine skin health. The right mix of holistic methods can help you understand the fundamental determinants of skin health and maintain strong, healthy, glowing skin.