Friday, March 18, 2011

Your Skin Type – The Lie That’s Hurting Your Skin

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The bad news is… you’ve been lied to. This lie is the worst kind of lie. It is systematic, motivated by profit, and has shaped your view of yourself. This lie has cost you hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars. It has made you unhappy, frustrated and self critical.

The good news is... you can correct the situation. All it takes is a little information.

The lie? You have a skin type.

Seems innocent enough, but I believe this is the worst kind of lie. It is motivated by greed, gets embedded into popular culture and leads people into a cycle of frustration and self criticism. So, starting now, let’s make it absolutely clear that this is not true. You do NOT have a skin "type".

Of course, it’s not that easy to remove this idea from your mind. After all, you are TRAINED to believe that you have a skin type. You are told – from a very early age – that your skin needs to be classified as normal, oily, combination, aging, sensitive… whatever, forever. As a result, you now believe you must only buy products for your 'type'. When in truth, your skin is all of these things… and more. Your skin is a major organ. It requires you to treat it as you would any other part of your body. You want to practice good health for your skin.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why you have never found that perfect product for your skin type? Why you move from one product to the next, hoping THIS time things will be different. THIS time, you will find the perfect product for your skin type to achieve the results you desire.

The truth is… you will never find the right product for your "skin type" because skin type is an illusion… a marketing construct intended to make cosmetic companies money. Their priority is profit pure and simple by expanding their products into classifications called 'types'... not healthy skin.

If you want beautiful skin, you need to stop torturing it with harsh products intended for a specific skin type. Skin is very much like any other aspect of health. Just as you would eat right and exercise for a healthy body, you need to practice good skin health too. First and foremost, dermatologists agree that surface characteristics of skin vary based on a number of factors, including age, general health, diet, exercise, and the state of your immune system. If you have an unhealthy diet or are intensely stressed out, for example, you will see this reflected in your skin. In order to maintain a healthy heart, lungs, or any other organ, we must pay attention to the healthy lifestyle guidelines. Same goes for your skin.

Besides the general healthy lifestyle guidelines (i.e. don’t eat garbage, drink water, manage your stress levels, etc.), as a health professional, I recommend the following practices for health skin:

  • Remove Dead Cells: Your skin has a natural life cycle that involves cells dying and new ones regenerating. A solid skin care regimen involves gently removing the dead cells. (If you allow dead cells to accumulate, the skin will appear dull, rough and may even break out.) I recommend using a non-abrasive scrub used 2 to 3 times per week.
  • Fruit Acids: Skin should have a pH of between 4 and 5.5, which is on the acidic side. The outer layer of your skin has a natural protective layer of acidic oils (the "acid mantle") that protects the skin from infection and harmful bacteria. If the acid mantle is stripped by harsh skin care products, bacteria can attack the skin causing rashes, discoloration, acne and other unattractive and irritating skin conditions. Rather, your best bet is using a fruit acid, such as Alpha Hydroxy Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid or Ascorbic Acid, to treat and protect the outer acid mantle layer and rejuvenate your skin. These acids can also improve skin texture by clearing away blackheads and reducing fine lines, acne scaring and uneven skin tone.
  • Essential Nutrients: A quality facial mask featuring essential nutrients will help to deep clean and exfoliate the skin. I recommend a mask with kaolin clay as it will help stimulate circulation, leaving your skin revitalized, smooth and silky, without drying it out.
  • Dead Sea Mud: I am a huge Dead Sea Mud advocate because it is rich in antioxidants and protects the skin against aging. It is also excellent for treating acne, psoriasis, eczema, and most skin irritations. It not only delivers important nutrients to the skin, but it also helps to hydrate the skin naturally.
    Shea Butter: Shea butter is excellent for moisturizing the skin without clogging pores and has natural sunscreen as well as anti-aging benefits. Look for shea butter in its pure form, rather than modified, synthetic or mixed versions.

Likewise, just as there are healthy things for your skin, there are also unhealthy ingredients to avoid. Surprisingly, a lot of these ingredients are featured in popular skin care treatments, including skin care for sensitive skin. This is because some of these ingredients have the benefits of culture mythology (i.e. it’s natural so must be good!) or yield temporary benefits. Unfortunately, these ingredients are not only popular, but they are harsh, irritating, and even damaging. They can lead to skin conditions and generally unhealthy skin.

  • Antibiotics: If acne is due to infection, antibiotics can be used temporarily, but long-term use can lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Aluminum Sulfate: This ingredient (common in deodorant) can be irritating to your skin.
  • Botanicals and herbal ingredients: Just because it is natural, it does not mean it is good for you. Plant extracts and essential oils can be highly irritating and have side effects. Used in their proper context, herbs have been used to treat medical conditions for centuries. They do not belong in every day use products or you may suffer with side effects of the particular plant.
  • BHA: Often touted as an antioxidant, BHA is a strong synthetic irritating ingredient that I recommend avoiding.
  • Barium sulfate: Used primarily as a whitening agent in cosmetics, I also recommend avoiding barium sulfate as it is quite harsh.
  • Fragrance: Avoid strongly fragranced products including those featuring salicylates and other irritating natural or synthetic plant oil ingredients.
  • Isopropyl alcohol: This alcohol is an irritant found in many products that strip the skin.
  • Lanolin: Lanolin is a common additive that is derived from sheep glands and may contain contaminants. I recommend avoiding products with lanolin.
  • PABA: Commonly found in sunscreens and highly irritating.
    Salicylic acid – Salicylic acid is a commonly used anti-inflammatory ingredient added to skin care products to reduce redness. Unfortunately, it can cause irritation and salicylic acid allergy if used for prolonged periods of time.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): Strong industrial detergent, used for foaming properties in many products, including toothpaste.
  • Sodium silicate: Irritating antiseptic commonly used in cosmetics.

Have questions about your specific skin issues? Visit www.cleure.com or contact Dr. Flora Stay directly at 888-883-4276 or customersupport@cleure.com.

About the Author: Dr. Flora Stay has practiced dentistry for over 25 years. She is also a published author, a professor at the USC School of Dentistry and a leading authority on health and wellness. Dr. Stay founded Cleure, a premier manufacturer of fluoride free and SLS free toothpaste and dental health products, as well as personal care products for salicylic acid allergy and sensitive skin care products.