Chances are you are already aware that your skin serves the following 4 main functions:
-To protect: It physically and functionally protects your internal organs from your environment by preventing pathogens from getting into your body, as well as to protect your body from the harmful effects of u.v rays and radiation.
-To regulate: Your smart skin is also in charge of regulating your body’s temperature and adjusts to its environment’s so that you sweat and cool off when it's too hot outside and vice versa.
-To prevent water loss of & hold in any essential body fluids (which our bodies are made up of 72%, no one likes to look like a dehydrated raisin now do we?)
-to detoxify and eliminate toxins: through sweat, it eliminates waste and toxic substances through sweat.
-to give you sensation: All types. It’s the sensory organ for touch, heat, cold etc.
Now that we’ve stated the skin facts, let’s get into debunking skincare myths concerning your stratum corneum, a rather ugly name for a rather incredibly beautiful body part: your outer layer, protective barrier of the skin.
1. The more you moisturize your skin, the better. False.
Your skin barrier, the outer most layer of your skin is actually meant to be relatively dry. It separates you from your environment and serves as a wall. Your body is wet (72%) and our environment on this (awesome) planet earth is rather dry, for this reason, our skin is perfectly made to be “hydrophobic” — hate water. It ensures the water that keeps your cells from functioning, your brain and vital organs from functioning, as well as your skin from looking beautiful, does not evaporate out of your beautiful body.
Just like when you pour a drop of oil in water it separates, that outer layer called stratum corneum is meant to be dry because it locks in the moisture of your body rather than to blend in with it and let water out into the dry environment. It’s made up of dry skin cells making their way up to flatten and flake off, (for visualizing purposes let's call them bricks) along with the fatty acids/natural oils your body produces referred to as sebum (the cement), and together they create an incredible protective wall from unwanted toxicity coming in, and unwanted, well water loss.
Here's the thing: if you are using too much cream, you’ll actually be flattening it out, wetting it, therefore making it more susceptible to "blending" with your body's moisture and easier for your body to loose water or let in unwanted toxicity/pathogens/age quicker.
2. Exfoliation should be done every 1-2 days. Negative. So, so negative.
As mentioned in point 1, your stratum corneum is meant to have a certain balance of dead skin cells to natural oils, as they along with the natural oils you produce respect the balance ratio and serve as a wall from your outer environment. If you are stipping your body from either these oils, or skin cells, your body could get into panic mode and overproduce sebum causing you to suddenly breakout (that's how smart your body is, it can't live without that wall and if you're damaging it, it will overcompensate with an overproduction of sebum). If you strip your skin from those oils by using harsh cleansers or overly remove those somewhat protective dead skin cells: you no longer have a strong wall for protection and are left with a weak skin barrier — not good, you'll age quicker not only in your skin but in every other organ that has a lipid-based membrane (which nearly all your organs do!).
Now, what should I do to strengthen or maintain a healthy skin barrier?
Think for yourself, and try not to follow what trends are telling you to do, nor for your overall health nor for your skin. Just like the trends began quite long ago pushing us all to overly shower, and cleanse our bodies with strong necessary soaps and toxic ingredients, the trends are now pushing us to overly spend on products based on fears for example SPF, antiaging ingredients, etc. This is actually extremely similar to what went down in the 80s when companies instilled this newfound fear of fats, which over the years evolved into a newfound fear of sugars, which then also evolved into a newfound fear of empty sugars. Our bodies should be supported in doing what they already do so miraculously. They self-regulate, they self-detoxify themselves, and they truly know what they’re doing sometimes more than our own minds do! It’s how our bodies have evolved, and just the way it is.
For skincare, for health, for nutrition, in our books there really is only one way to do things right: gather information, find brands you trust, find experts you trust and look up to, try to eliminate as many bad habits as you can, progressively but also keep this in mind: companies take advantage of the fact that we don’t look to find information ourselves, feed us information that makes it okay for them to sell us products based on fears they instilled in us. Think for yourself, go organic, go as natural as possible, and whatever you add to your routine make sure it simply supports your natural processes and body’s functions: nothing too harsh or drastic unless you truly need medical treatments, while still incorporating daily rituals of mindfulness, detoxification and skincare to ensure your body has all it needs to work well, and keep you happy, healthy and glowing!