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Our skin does an excellent job of protecting us from infection, disease, and foreign bodies. But, even the body's strongest protector needs our support to stay in excellent condition. The key to taking care of your skin is not only understanding how it works, but what we can do to bolster its defences.
Comprising three layers (epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis), our skin is the body's first line of defence against infection, microbes, and other harmful elements. It also helps us to regulate temperature while providing us with a crucial sensation—touch. All in all, our skin has a lot of functions to juggle, and, being the largest organ in our body, it's no surprise that sometimes it struggles to keep everything in check.
In situations where the skin is damaged or weakened, a variety of skin conditions can manifest. Left unchecked, these conditions dampen the skin's natural ecosystem, making it difficult to restore the balance it needs to look and feel at its best. However, with the right skincare routine and support, many common skin conditions are only temporary.
While there are hundreds of possible skin conditions, some are more prevalent than others. With that in mind, let's take a look at common ailments.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a widespread skin condition that causes patches of itchy, dry, and cracked skin. While it's more common in children, it can still occur during adulthood, and one of the worst things is, stress can exacerbate eczema—something there's no shortage of as an adult!
Regrettably, there is no known cure for eczema, but it can go away over time. Researchers also don't know what causes eczema to occur in the first place, but they’ve highlighted a list of possible triggers, including:
• Extreme temperature changes
• Hormonal imbalance
Fortunately, most cases are mild, and, with the support of eczema creams, symptoms are very manageable. The key is identifying possible triggers and working to reduce or remove them.
Despite being synonymous with teenagers, acne can occur at any age and is one of the most habitual skin conditions. Acne occurs when skin follicles become blocked with dead cells and natural oils, manifesting as whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Severe symptoms also include lumps under the skin (nodules) and cysts.
Unlike eczema, we have a better idea of what causes acne, making the condition easier to manage. However, some genetic factors contribute to acne's severity. No matter the seriousness, possible triggers include:
• Hormonal imbalance
Hormonal imbalance is a common trigger, and partly the reason why acne is more frequent among teenagers. Diet is also a widespread trigger, but probably not the foods you'd expect. You'll be happy to know that chocolate and greasy foods don't contribute to acne—carbohydrate-rich foods are the true culprit.
Another prevalent skin condition among adults is psoriasis. With psoriasis, cells become confused, rapidly multiplying until a build-up of dead cells sits atop normal skin. Symptoms manifest as red, bumpy, and irritated skin with white scales. Skin is also usually very itchy, creating a lot of discomfort. Any distress is made worse by the fact that the risk areas include the scalp, elbows, and knees.
Psoriasis is another skin condition whose exact cause remains a mystery. However, it tends to run in families, which leads scientists to believe there may be links to a genetic abnormality with the immune system. Other potential triggers include:
• Medications (including blood pressure and antimalarial medication)
• Cuts and breaks in the skin
• Strep infections
Despite not knowing the exact cause of psoriasis, there are lots of treatments available. Most involve specialised creams and ointments, with some severe cases benefiting from light therapy and steroid programmes.
Although sunburn isn't a skin condition in the same sense as the cases highlighted above, it's still an all-too-common occurrence. This time, however, we know exactly what causes sunburn—prolonged sunlight exposure. More specifically, it's UV rays from the sun that burn the skin's outer layer, but that's just the damage we can see. UV rays can also damage DNA, leading to skin cancer.
While protection against sunlight is essential for everyone, not all people experience symptoms at the same rate. Your skin type, the sun's intensity, and how long you're exposed all play a part in the severity. Symptoms usually take a few hours to appear, and include:
• Patches of red skin
• Peeling and itching
It's important to note that the impact of sunburn doesn't purely show itself in the skin. Overexposure can also lead to flu, chills, nausea, and headaches. Again, relief comes in the form of creams, gels, and ointments, but the best cure for sunburn is prevention!
Healthy, balanced skin is not only more resistant to disease and disorder, but it looks and feels great too. And, although our skin usually does an excellent job of protecting us, a few simple lifestyle changes can give it a much-needed boost—especially if the potential triggers highlighted above are unavoidable (we're looking at you, stress).
With that in mind, let's quickly run through six practical tips for taking care of your skin.
Sounds simple, but with the stressors of modern living (more on how to manage those shortly), it's all too easy to neglect your body's largest organ. The best part is, loving your skin doesn't have to be complicated. There are dozens of simple, no-nonsense ways to keep your skin looking and feeling great, from regular exfoliation to avoiding harsh chemicals, moisturising, and using hypoallergenic products.
It will probably come as no surprise, but what we eat daily has a significant impact on our skin's health. A balanced diet has myriad positive effects depending on what you consume. If we had to recommend a few standouts, they would be omega-3 to help with skin dryness, olive oil for healthy-looking skin, and green tea to rejuvenate skin.
Sleep gives our body the time it needs to rest, repair, and recuperate. While you can quickly remedy a few restless nights with a comprehensive skincare routine, chronic sleep deprivation has a significant impact on skin appearance and ageing. Without time to rest and repair, our skin is one of the organs that shows a lack of restful sleep first. Aim for 7–9 hours of sleep, and you'll feel better inside and out.
We alluded to this earlier, but too much exposure to UV rays negatively impacts skin. That doesn't mean hiding away indoors, as sunlight is a vital source of vitamin D, an essential compound for well-being. What it does mean is taking shelter from intense sunlight by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding the hottest hours of the day.
Smoking has a plethora of damaging effects, not just on the skin, but the entire body. And, just like a lack of sleep shows in our skin first, so does smoke damage. Smoking not only contributes to wrinkles, but narrows blood vessels and damages the skin's elasticity. There's also an increased risk of skin cancers to consider. In short, you should avoid smoking entirely.
Although it sometimes feels easier said than done, keeping on top of stress is a fantastic way to look after your skin. In fact, managing stress is essential to physical and mental well-being.
Although the exact approach will vary from person to person, it's important to recognise when stress becomes chronic. Over time, the pressure will negatively impact our bodily functions, with skin being one of the areas most affected. Whether it's talking to a friend, keeping a journal, or regular exercise, it's crucial you find the time to practise stress-reduction techniques.
With "giving your skin some love" being number one on our list, it makes sense to dive deeper into the topic. A good skincare routine is vital to healthy-looking skin, but many people simply don't know where to start.
Although there are thousands of skincare products, healthy-looking skin doesn't have to be complicated. No matter what you use, the following three-step approach is not only the best way to keep skin feeling fantastic, but it works in tandem with your skin's natural processes.
Skin is your body's first line of defence against pollutants, dust, foreign objects, and just about everything you come into contact with. However, even the most robust barriers need a chance to recover. Cleansing removes the build-up of harmful elements so skin can encourage new cell growth and ultimately build a more durable defence.
The first step in any skincare routine should always be cleansing—removing these harmful elements from the skin and providing the perfect foundation for the next two steps: toning and moisturising.
With the challenges of modern living cleansed from skin, we have much better access to the skin's outer layer—the epidermis. Unfortunately, the epidermis is also the layer that shows signs of ageing, and, over time, loses elasticity. While this is a natural part of ageing, we can slow this process with the right approach, encouraging youthful, supple skin.
Applying a toner removes any lingering impurities, with the bonus of penetrating deeper than a cleanser. Toners also prime the skin for moisturisers (the third and final step) while balancing skin pH. A toner is a binding agent between the first and last skincare steps, making both more effective and helping to restore balance in the skin.
So far, we've focused our skincare routine on resetting the skin's delicate balance. With the skin primed thanks to cleansing and toning, moisturising helps to restore moisture and keep skin nourished.
Aside from supple skin looking and feeling great, it's also better equipped to deal with contaminants and pollutants. Smooth skin has fewer places for these substances to settle, whereas dry skin is a haven for foreign objects. Keeping skin moisturised also helps to reduce itchiness, a common symptom of eczema, psoriasis, and sunburn.
The key to healthy skin is working to enhance its natural qualities. From a balanced diet to a comprehensive skincare routine, everything we do is about working alongside the skin, not against it. So far, initial research suggests this is precisely the role CBD plays in skin care—working behind the scenes to bolster the skin, not overload or interfere with its processes.
CBD's unique interaction with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is not just specific to internal areas such as the digestive, immune, and central nervous system. The skin also has a vast network of cannabinoid receptors, and as such is a prime candidate for cannabinoid-based creams, gels, and beauty products.
CBD-infused products are not only straightforward to apply, but come in a range of formats. Finding a product that suits your skincare routine is simple, convenient, and, most importantly, a fantastic way to supercharge your skin's well-being.
Research is ongoing, but preclinical trials have investigated CBD’s potential to soothe inflammatory skin conditions, protect against ageing, and reduce red, sensitive skin. There's also the psychological impact of CBD to consider. The compound has been probed for a possible reduction in stress and anxiety.
Skin is an organ affected not only by physical factors, but mental well-being too. Addressing physical symptoms is only one part of a complete skincare solution, especially when stress is a prominent trigger in acne, eczema, psoriasis, and dozens of other debilitating skin conditions.
Fortunately, the all-encompassing nature of CBD is a strength that plays directly into the treatment of skin. After all, a complex organ needs a versatile solution! Combined with its lack of toxicity, the compound is proving a powerful ally to existing skincare ingredients and treatments.