My skin care motto is: simplify.
Let me tell you a little about my background… Before becoming a full time Mommy I was considering going into Dermatology, so in medical school I took three times the regular amount of training in Dermatology as a result.
I also spent four summers throughout college working at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD… working with a research team who was investigating oncogenes.
And… as I mentioned in my sunscreen article last week, my father was a top scientist at the forefront of melanoma research, so in my lifetime I’ve gotten a little extra training in both the areas of cancer research and in skin care.
With this background, my gut feeling says that the more you chronically irritate something, the more likely you are to develop cancer in that organ.
As straight forward as that.
And that includes the skin, our body’s largest organ.
Most of the over the counter anti-aging products you can buy through drugstores, department stores, and even health food stores, contain ingredients designed to chronically irritate your skin.
This is because they’ve found that by chronically irritating skin at low levels… low enough that you may not even see any skin reaction visibly… you are chronically encouraging it to slough off and turn over new cells.
This is why low but consistent doses of retinal products and hydroxy acids and other skin acids (even all naturally derived fruit acids) works to give your skin a refreshed surface… chronically forcing new cell turnover.
While this is great in the short-term (you get fresher skin within a few weeks) in the long-term, chronic irritation and inflammation has been shown to incite cellular damage.
Chronic inflammation is turning out to be one of the major factors in all types of disease… from coronary artery disease (as I blog about here,) to stroke, to cancer.
So, my goal as a physician is to decrease the levels of inflammation and irritation in and on the body as much as possible.
It is routine practice now to try to decrease the level of inflammation inside our bodies… for example, decreasing the level of inflammation in our guts by avoiding certain foods (like avoiding gluten if you have celiac disease) or using prescription medications to decrease inflammation (like statin drugs for heart disease.)
But it is not generally addressed when it comes to skin care.
Yes, everyone understands that inflaming your skin to the point of sunburn is a serious no-no… that UV exposure can cause skin cancers… but what about the chronic irritation of the toxic chemicals in daily use of chemical sunblock?
This is starting to get more recent press and consumers are switching to physical sunblock over chemical ones, for good reason (as I blog about here!)
The same thinking goes for your facial care products.
Infrequent use may be fine, but daily (and sometimes twice daily, morning and night!) slathering on of anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti-this-and-that products intended to stir up your skin and cause enough low levels of irritation that it forces your skin to make new skin faster… 40 years of applying this to your face doesn’t feel right to me.
- If you had a chemical irritant would you smear it morning and night on the inside walls of your heart?
- Or along the surface of your kidney?
- Why does it seem so much more benign when we slather it onto our skin?
I’m not sure why, especially since skin cancers are no small concern… and with the advent of the newer delivery methods (micronized particles and nanosphere delivery systems) the ingredients do not stay superficial but rather are internally delivered.
So that is the platform upon which I recommend this very simple skin plan:
Do no harm.
Allow your body to do what it does best… cover you in sheets of beautiful, healthy skin, replacing it as needed… and support this process with moisture and occasional exfoliation.
1. For moisturizing, nothing beats coconut oil in my book.
- I have a huge jar of organic coconut oil in my bathroom, and I use it for everything. I put it in my hair once in a while before I shampoo, as a deep moisturizer.
- I use it on my face to remove make up, then put it on again after I wash my face as a moisturizer.
- I put it on after I shower and before I towel dry to give my entire body a moisture barrier.
- It is extremely well absorbed, smells great, and no irritation.
- Simple to find at most health food stores and grocery stores and on-line… really everywhere.
I’ve been known to grab my bottle of organic olive oil or grapeseed oil from the pantry in a pinch as well, but I tend to prefer coconut oil.
2. For exfoliation, nothing beats this simple ingredient you have waiting for you right now in your kitchen!
Watch this video… the advice in it is still as true today as the day I recorded it.
(If the video is not showing up here for you, scroll down into the comments section where I have re-posted it…)
3. And for wound healing and reduced chances of scarring?
You know I scour the medical literature on your behalf to bring you all the positive, uplifting, cutting edge and natural health advice possible…
So I was excited to read and share with you this article, published in the International Wound Journal (April, 2012) that reports the use of honey for wound care. Honey was found to:
- promote healing
- minimize necrosis
- minimize the amount of skin that sloughed off the wound
- reduced wound size, and
- decreased affected area around wound
I’d be happy to use honey as a topical dressing even if it only had a small chance of helping… but it actually made a measurable improvement in over 84% of wounds!!!!
We are talking:
- post operative wounds
- general skin wounds
- pressure sores and more!
Honey has well-known antimicrobial benefits, doesn’t spoil, is easy to have on hand and is portable (no refrigeration required!)
so it really makes perfect sense to use as a secondary wound dressing (keep a small bottle in your travel kit!) for use on adults and children older than 12 months old.
- First be sure to flush out any wound with lots of water… for a long period of time.
- Then, depending on wound type you may consider a topical antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, or antibacterial dressing, and then honey.
- For minor wounds, use deep cleansing and then honey as a dressing, but be sure to have any deeper or larger wounds evaluated by a physician.
Because honey is so safe and so effective for so many different types of wounds… and because it speeds healing and decreases the amount of skin that is affected by the wound, I feel that honey ultimately will be shown to reduce the appearance of scarring as well.
So for post operative wounds or acne infections or stretch marks or injuries that you want to minimize scarring in… bring on the honey!
Sweet news, indeed!
There is no way that my skin is perfect… not by a long shot. But it IS healthy and it is fully supported.
Coconut oil, baking soda, and honey. Just might be the perfect skin care triad!
Leave them for me below and I’ll respond to you with my thoughts!