Skin; the largest organ of the body; the organ that perceives our surroundings through vibration. It’s delicate yet strong and absorbent yet resistant. We’ve all got it and we all want to keep it clean, protected, long-lasting and healthy.
There are three main layers of skin: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat.
The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin. It’s thick and consists of five sublayers. The epidermis is constantly regenerating new cells. Old cells die and fall off on the surface layer as the lower sublayers generate newer healthy cells. Your pores live in the epidermis, those little tiny holes/dots on your skin. These little, tiny holes are responsible for ridding the body of waste in forms of sweat and oil. When pores become clogged, unwanted conditions present themselves on the epidermis, like acne and blackheads. Other conditions that affect the epidermis are results from poor hygiene/bacteria, poor diet, allergies, irritations, genetics, and autoimmune reactions. Some of these conditions consist of dandruff, eczema, rash, boils, birthmarks and moles, bedsores, plaque psoriasis, discoid lupus, melanoma (skin cancer), etc.
The dermis is the middle layer of skin that lies beneath the epidermis and above the subcutaneous fat. This thick layer is the home to hair follicles, sweat and oil glands, lymph vessels, nerve endings, and connective tissue. The dermis has several responsibilities but it’s most important responsibility is to protect the inner organs of the body from harmful pathogens. It’s also responsible for preserving the structure of our skin because it’s made of collagen and elastin (the anti-wrinkle components.) Some conditions that affect the dermis are sebaceous cysts, dermoid cysts (hair follicle cysts), cellulitis (a skin infection, not to be mistaken with cellulite), dermatofibroma (benign lumps), and wrinkles.
The innermost layer is the subcutaneous fat; your cushion, shock absorber, and insulation! This layer of skin maintains your body temperature and keeps you warm. This is the layer that connects your outer layers of skin to your muscles and tissues below it. Some parts of the body have a higher density of the subcutaneous fat than other parts. This depends on genetic composition. Subcutaneous fat is not to be mistaken for visceral fat, which is an accumulation of fat in the abdomen due to diet, metabolism and lifestyle choices.
Our skin is quite easy to please. We can keep all the layers healthy through preservation of the digestive tract (through proper diet and intake of water), maintenance of hormones and stress, proper hygiene, massage, and a skincare routine.
First things first, how’s your digestion? This takes precedence to a healthy plate. You can eat all the healthy foods you want but if your digestive system isn’t functioning properly, you won’t reap the benefits of the foods you’re eating.
Here’s what a healthy digestive system looks like:
- You go #2 once a day, typically first thing in the morning
- It’s consistency is firm, shaped like a banana, and brown in color (doesn’t require much wiping)
- You have a healthy appetite for three meals a day
- The order of digestion is descending, like it should be (AKA, you don’t suffer from gas, belching, or vomiting)
If you can check off everything above, your digestive system is strong enough to absorb the nutrients from your healthy plate.
Here’s what your plate should look like:
- Include the 3 macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fats
- Include the 6 tastes: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent, bitter
- Include various colors, think veggies and the rainbow assortment of options they provide!
- Veggies should occupy half of your plate
- Satvik AKA pure, fresh, organic, never canned or frozen, never overcooked, not junk or leftovers, and never microwaved.
Water consumption is equally important, but there’s a time and place for it. You shouldn’t drink much an hour before, during, and an hour after you eat. Water dilutes your digestive enzymes and food takes longer to digest. This prolonged digestion due to diluted acids often creates toxins in the digestive tract. If you need a little water to help cleanse your palate between bites, sipping on a small glass of room temperature water is completely fine. Don’t overdo it while eating and don’t underdo it at other times of the day! Ever notice the more water you drink, the clearer your pee is? Yeah, your skin works the same! Urine is waste that leaves through the urethra. Sweat is waste that leaves through the skin.
Maintaining stress levels can be challenging at times but it’s not impossible! Great ways to destress are breathing exercises, yoga asana (postures), and exercise! Some people like to paint or read a book to destress. There are thousands of ways and no one way is right! When we keep our stress at bay, our hormone levels become more regular. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced and secreted from our endocrine glands, called adrenals, that live above our kidneys. When accompanying our healthy diet with methods of de-stressing, we begin to regulate our cortisol levels and all the other functions of the body begin to regulate as well, like properly ridding toxic waste from the body for better health and beautiful skin!
Proper hygiene is common sense, right? WRONG! We do very silly things all the time without even realizing it. We press our germy phones against our face. We scratch our skin with dirt underneath our fingernails. We push our hair away from our face with the same hands that touches filthy doorknobs. We are often guilty of not washing our hands when entering a new space or after a long day of travel. We lay our faces on pillowcases we wash less frequently than we should. And we sometimes fall asleep without washing our makeup off. (A big one I am SO guilty of! Wash that sh*t off! It’s bad for your skin to begin with and then leaving it on longer than it should be just provides a breeding ground for bacteria to clog the pores.) But it’s okay. We all do it. But these are big contributors to unwanted epidermis conditions. Simple fix: wash your hands!
Since this article is all about skin, let’s talk about showering. It’s good to shower everyday. Water is so cleansing. It washes away dead skin cells, dirt, sweat, and germs. However, soap isn’t always necessary to slab all over the body. The only places you should use soap is in your armpits and anus region. Ladies, do not put soap near your vagina! It just kills your good flora and promotes bad bacteria and fungus to grow leading to UTIs and yeast infections. Men, be gentle down there. We all know it doesn’t feel nice to get soap inside your urethra. When you apply soap to your entire body, it dries out your skin. Your skin requires oil to prevent water and harmful chemicals from seeping into our bloodstream. The soap you use should be as natural as possible! Many soaps, shampoos and conditioners have sulfates and parabens that are known xenoestrogens/endocrine disruptors. We spoke about keeping the hormones balanced through methods of destressing. Chemicals in toiletries are just as harmful to the body as stress when it comes to producing and secreting hormones. They’re called endocrine disruptors for a reason. My favorite soap is chickpea flour and water because it’s simple and efficient! Take a tiny bowl of chickpea flour into the shower with you and add a few drops of water until you can make a paste. Apply that paste to your stinkiest places to keep your body clean.
Treat yo-self to a massage! Lucky for you, you don’t have to break the bank to get one. You can beg a loved one to do it for you or you can be the independent, strong human you are and do it to yourself. In Ayurveda, we call this Abhyanga. (I will write an entire article on the practice of self massage/Abhyanga because it is far too important to share an article with any other topic and deserves an article of its own.) Massaging your body stimulates all layers of the skin but specifically the dermis and subcutaneous fat where several small blood vessels live. Massage stimulates circulation, lubricates the body tissues and joints, encourages elimination of stagnant toxins in the body, tones the tissues and skin to prevent wrinkles and sagging, and improves immunity by promoting lymphatic drainage. Not only does it feel incredible and keep your body healthy, it leaves your skin plump and smooth!
Having a skincare regimen isn’t easy for everyone. I work with all types of people. Full time moms, traveling business professionals, college students, etc. A lot of them complain about not having enough time or being too tired to have a skincare regimen. I get that. Hell, I have a skincare line and my skin is covered in blemishes because I don’t always practice what I preach. We’re human! A full skincare regimen doesn’t have to be crazy long. A full skincare routine should look like this:
1. Cleanse- do this everyday!
2. Exfoliate- depending on your skin type, do this 1-2x a week.
3. Mask- depending on your skin needs, do this 1-2x a week.
4. Toner- do this everyday!
5. Moisturize- do this everyday!
If you’re looking for some recommendations, I’ve got you covered. Until we release our cleanser, exfoliator and masks, I recommend that you use chickpea flour and water as a cleanser, ground oats for exfoliator, and fresh aloe vera pulp for a mask! None of these things will break the bank or cause harm to your skin or endocrine system. As for toner, you know we’ve got your back at earth&water with our tenacious toner! As for moisturizer, we’ve got two options for you! If you are noticing that your skin is aging, our sansenescent serum is highly recommended. Our sansenescent serum is also beneficial for people with acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Otherwise, we recommend our morning dew moisturizer for everything else! earth&water is as natural as it gets. Our products are free of harmful preservatives and xenoestrogens that studies have linked to cancerous growths, birth defects, and other developmental disruptions. Your skin protects you from the outside world but more times than not, harm seeps its way past the barrier and into the bloodstream. If you won't eat it, don't feed it to your skin. Feed your skin earth&water. It's vegan, it's natural, it's sustainable.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body, it’s time we start treating it right.
If you have any questions about skin care you can always email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ve got to have thick skin. earth&water can help you with that.