Article at a Glance:
- Skin is the body’s largest organ, and it’s important to protect it as much as it protects you.
- Maintaining healthy skin is not only vital for your protection and thermoregulation; it also plays a key role in mental health.
- The state of your skin could be indicative of what is happening inside of your body.
- Natural aging, as well as environmental and lifestyle causes, can impact the appearance and health of your skin.
- Healthy skin starts at a cellular level.
As the saying goes, beauty is only skin-deep — but the importance of skin, and keeping it healthy, goes much deeper.
Why are Skin and Skin Health Important?
Skin is the body’s largest organ, and its most basic function is to create a boundary between you and your environment. It holds your body’s fluids, protects you from dehydration and harmful microbes, and provides you with nerve endings so that you can sense things like heat, cold, and pain (or pleasure). Think of the skin as the ultimate biological shield against the elements; it is an integral component of the immune, nervous and endocrine systems(1). Without it, your body would be exposed and more susceptible to infections (bacteria or fungi) and disease (viruses).
In addition to protection and thermoregulation, healthy skin plays an important role in the quality of life and psychosocial functioning. For example, those with skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and skin cancer (which are typically visible) may be more likely to face psychologic challenges, such as being self-conscious or fearful of interacting with others. (2) This, in turn, can negatively their confidence, mood, relationships, and how they show up in the world every day.
What are the Signs of Healthy Skin?
In a society that sets perpetually glowing, radiant skin as the beauty standard, it’s common to assume that being blemish-free is the same thing as having healthy skin. The reality is that healthy skin looks different for everyone — even if you have occasional acne, birthmarks, or sun damage. Still, it’s important to be aware of the state of your skin because it could be indicative of what is happening inside of your body.
From a medical standpoint, here are a few signs that you have healthy skin:
- Well-hydrated: Your skin feels supple to the touch and bounces back when you press and release it.
- Even skin tone: Generally speaking, having a consistent skin color is a positive sign that your skin is healthy and free of some common skin diseases.
- Smooth texture: By this, we don’t mean perfectly smooth with absolutely no texture at all. When you look at your face closely in the mirror, it is entirely normal to see regular irregularities that are your pores and the tiny peaks around your hair follicles. But your pores should appear small, tight, and feel smooth to the touch.
- Normal sensations: You should not feel irregular sensations such as stretching, burning, or itching.
What Affects the Appearance and Health of Your Skin?
Of course, as you age, it’s normal for your skin to appear older too — making fine lines, wrinkles, and spots more visible. Environmental and lifestyle causes can influence the elasticity and appearance of your skin too. Examples of this include:
- sun exposure
- air pollution
- poor nutrition
- sleep deprivation
How to Promote Healthy, Beautiful Skin
So often we only talk about the skin at the surface level, but healthy skin really starts at the cellular level with your mitochondria. These organelles are responsible for producing ATP (energy), which directly influences how well your cells function. When your mitochondria do not produce the ATP that they should, you have mitochondrial dysfunction, which is one of the main characteristics of aging and disease. (3, 4)
Here are some basic things that you can do to help improve the appearance and health of your skin:
- Drink water: There have been varying recommendations over the years as far as how much water you should actually drink each day – where you live and how active you are key variables in determining the right amount for you. Proper hydration may help reduce redness and dryness, improve elasticity, and skin’s surface texture. (5, 6)
- Get consistent, quality rest: In short, sleep gives your skin time to repair itself. Conversely, lack of sleep can inhibit wound healing, promote inflammation, and cause acne breakouts. If you’re having trouble falling and staying asleep, consider reducing your light exposure at night by wearing TrueDark sleep-hacking glasses and/or limiting your screen time. The intense blue light from screens not only disrupts your circadian rhythm but may also cause hyperpigmentation and the breakdown of collagen in your skin. (7)
- Eat nutrient-dense foods: fish with omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts, avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and peppers are all examples of nutrient-dense foods that can help reduce inflammation, provide antioxidant properties, and improve hydration and elasticity in your skin. (8)
- Use non-toxic skincare products: The key here is to look for products that only use natural ingredients rather than synthetic formulations or harsh chemicals – specifically the “BIG 12”:
- #1: Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol
- #2: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- #3: DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)
- #4: Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
- #5: Sodium Hydroxide
- #6: Triclosan
- #7: DMDM and Urea (Imidazolidnyl)
- #8: Parabens
- #9: Alcohol, Isopropyl, SD-40
- #10: Mineral Oil
- #11: FD&C Color Pigments
- #12: Fragrances
- Do not touch your face with your hands: Dirt, oil, and bacteria buildup on our fingertips, which can very easily lead to skin problems – irritations or infections – if you’re touching your face.
- Natural Ultraviolet skin protection: Opt for natural mineral (zinc oxide) or vegetable alternatives such as Red Raspberry Seed Oil which has a natural SPF between 28 – 50 as well as Sea Buckthorn Seed & Berry Oils which are known for reducing the damaging effects of the sun’s radiation.
- Use LED light therapy: This painless, non-invasive, and drug-free form of treatment delivers “bioactive” light to the body’s cells to help boost ATP production. It is more of a complementary tool than a replacement for skincare basics (eat and sleep well), but it is an excellent way to support your mitochondria and help heal the body’s skin, muscles, and other tissues from the inside out. TrueLight® LED light therapy devices use a patent-pending combination of light (including deep red, red, near-infrared, and yellow light) to do just that in as little as 20-30 minutes per day.
When it comes to refining your skincare routine, just remember that it takes time, patience, and a little bit of experimenting to get the perfect skincare cocktail for you. [Healthy] skin is in!