There is nothing like a clear sunny day, whether it is spring, summer, fall or even winter. A bright sunshiny day brings a healthy feeling, in part because it is associated with high barometric pressures. But too often we hear that the sun is bad. The only bad thing about the sun is when your body is not healthy enough to benefit from it, or when you abuse it. The fact is your skin was made for the sun.
Of course, too much sun can be harmful, such as sunning for hours with just a bathing suit, or less. But if you spend a lot of time outdoors, you are doing what your body was made to do.
It's only when you don't follow healthy dietary habits that you become unnaturally vulnerable to sun damage and disease. Avoiding sunburn at any age, but especially early in life, is a key to preventing skin cancers later in life especially melanoma, perhaps the most serious form of skin cancer. Unfortunately, studies show that significant numbers of children still experience sunburn.
While the sun gives us nutrients and other benefits, it can also use up nutrients. Consider that sunlight helps control stress, sunlight on the body and its stimulation through the eyes actually influences the adrenal stress hormones and can be very therapeutic, and prevent and treat the common problem of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Throughout the year, the sun hitting your skin produces natural vitamin D. Interestingly, one cannot overdose on natural vitamin D from the sun, even with day-after-day exposure, whereas synthetic vitamin D supplements can easily cause vitamin D toxicity.
Sun exposure causes reductions in Vitamins A & C, folic acid, Vitamin E and lycopene, and changes the oils within your skin's cells. If your intake of these nutrients is low, sun exposure can be a negative influence on your health, including reduced immune function. These nutritional factors are discussed below.
The fact that sun causes skin aging, skin cancer, cataracts and more, is all true. But the problem isn't the sun, it's the way your body reacts to the sun. The rates of skin cancer, for example, are rising 7 percent per year and doubling every decade. But humans have been living in the sun since the beginning. So the problem isn't that we're in the sun more.
If that were true we wouldn't be seeing increases in vitamin D deficient rickets and bone calcium problems in the elderly. The real problem is that most people no longer consume natural chemo-protective agents in the diet.
Here are some of the key issues to consider:
Limonene is an oily phytonutrient prevalent in the skins of citrus fruit. It has been shown to successfully prevent and treat skin cancer. Unfortunately, most people drink citrus juice but toss the skin, which contains most of the limonene, as well as many other nutrients. Other sources of limonene include cherries, spearmint and peppermint, caraway and dill. It's no coincidence that these plants often grow in southern climates where the sun is strongest.
WARNING: It is crucial to point out that limonene is mentioned here in strictly a nutritional context. Please note that oils or fragrances based on limonene OR limolene are photo sensitisers and should therefore NEVER be applied to the skin and exposed to UVR.
Human skin normally contains oils stored in the cell walls, and may be susceptible to the sun's ionising radiation. Consider when you heat cooking oil on your stove it can easily burn with too much heat. What types of oils are stored in your skin? If they're mostly omega-6 polyunsaturated oils, they're vulnerable to chemical breakdown by the sun's rays and your risk of skin damage and disease is higher. These situation is worsened if your vitamin E levels are not adequate. The oil in your skin is directly related to what's in your diet. Omega-3 & Omega-6 oils, such as fish and flaxseed oils are vital for healthy skin due to their powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
A healthy diet high in vegetables and some fruits is also high in natural antioxidants and other phytonutrients. These nutrients are vital in normal environmental adaptation, especially to the sun's rays. They not only protect the skin from cancer, but also protect the eyes from the sun's rays, which can make you susceptible to cataracts. Antioxidants include vitamins C and E, the carotenoids, selenium and others found in yellow, orange, purple and other vegetables.
Certain phytonutrients, such as lycopene, found in tomato products and green tea, are also important for the skin during sun exposure.
Raw and cooked leafy vegetables contain folic acid, another key nutrient important for sunny days. Folic acid in its natural state (virtually all folic acid supplements are synthetic) is important because sun exposure reduces folic acid in the body. There are thousands of other reactions in the body that deplete folic acid, and it's normally replaced through a healthy diet.
If you've ever had too much sun, you know inflammation is a painful part of the process. Chronic inflammation is an early condition of skin cancer development. This is an extensive topic discussed in my lectures, newsletters and on our web site.
Some drugs can significantly increase your sensitivity to the sun. These include NSAIDs, certain antibiotics and anti fungals, diuretics, various psychiatric drugs, and many others.
Still more food for thought....
About the Author
New Zealand born Florence Barrett-Hill is an internationally acclaimed dermal science educator, practitioner, researcher, and author with over 30 years of experience covering all aspects of professional aesthetic therapy and paramedical skin care.
Florence is the creator of the internationally recognised Pastiche Method of advanced skin analysis, and spends her time travelling the world teaching and presenting to skin treatment therapists, practitioners and medical professionals.
I was recently reading the information given to acne sufferers from the dermatology department of a hospital and I was surprised to find that these patients were advised that their diet played no part in the condition of their skin. However, the skin is completely reliant on the body for its nutrition, waste removal and immune response it is basically created and nourished from the inside.
The skin functions as our largest organ within a system of organs. We can see how it reacts to changes within our bodies when we consider its role as an excretory organ. If the body becomes overloaded with toxins and the liver, kidneys and bowel cannot cope; the skin will excrete the excess.
This is only one example of the skin's inter-relationship with other organs of our body.
One of the most direct ways of influencing the condition of our skin is by supporting the health of our bodies. We can certainly do this through diet and because our modern diet is becoming more and more inadequate, through vitamin and mineral supplementation.
So what can we do as therapists to help our clients suffering from acne?
There are many causes of acne and occasionally we do come across acne caused through contact with comedogenic substances such as machine oils, coal tar derivatives, chlorinated hydrocarbons or ingredients within makeup or cosmetics.
However, most commonly acne is a response by the skin to an internal imbalance within the body. These imbalances can be hormonal due to the changes associated with puberty, our menstrual cycle or stress a medication or a dietary deficiency such as low levels of zinc, potassium or Vitamin B6.
Acne caused through contact with comedogenic substances can be addressed by removing the offending chemical or protecting the skin with the application of a fine layer of grapeseed oil. However, for acne caused through internal factors such as stress or hormonal imbalances our best weapon is diet and nutritional supplements in addition to the external support we can offer with our skin care lines.
For example, when acne is caused through stress, we need to look to the adrenal glands. Over stimulation of these glands often results in an increase in androgens like testosterone, which promotes the rate of keratisation and sebum production in the skin. Vitamin C is vital for the correct functioning of the adrenal glands. In fact, the adrenals are the only place in our bodies that Vitamin C is stored. Vitamin C also aids in the production of the anti-stress hormones and interferon. Bach flower remedies are also worth considering. They provide a safe and effective treatment that can be individually blended to address the type of stresses affecting the client. Another option is herbs; for example Siberian Ginseng is a well-known adaptogen, helping the body deal with stress on a cellular level. However, a qualified herbal practitioner should prescribe this herb.
When acne is the result of a hormonal imbalance whether naturally occurring or through medication such as oral contraceptives, steroids or certain anti-epileptic drugs, then we should support not only the adrenals but the liver as well. This is because the liver is responsible for breaking down our waste hormones so they can be excreted. The herb dandelion contains many trace elements that support the function of the liver. Milk thistle is another useful herb which can actually repair liver tissue. Again these herbs are best prescribed by an herbal practitioner but an easy liver tonic you can suggest to your client is the juice of a lemon in a glass of water taken every morning upon rising.
Our liver also processes the fats and oils in our diet. The types of fats we eat also influence our skin health. To put it simply, a diet rich in saturated fats creates sebum that is thick, viscous, easily blocking the pores and even irritating the skin. In contrast, essential fatty acids are an excellent skin food, encouraging the skin to heal, soothing it and it has even been suggested that they can help dissolve blockages in the pores.
Evening Primrose Oil is one of the best sources of the Omega 6 essential fatty acids and I generally recommend that my acne clients take 1000mg of EPO per day for the first month and then reduce this to 500mg. I encourage clients to take this in conjunction with a supplement of Vitamin B Complex as this must be present for the body to process EFAs. Vitamin B Complex also improves the blood flow to the skin making it a valuable supplement for the acne sufferer especially when we consider that acne can be a sign of Vitamin B6 deficiency
We can also support the skin by ensuring that it is not required to excrete an overload of toxins from the body. Encouraging our client to drink lots of water will flush the kidneys and a high fiber diet will keep the colon clean. Yogurt is another useful food, providing us with a good source of B Complex and helping to maintain healthy intestinal flora.
No acne treatment is complete without Vitamin A. This important vitamin regulates the secretions of the sebaceous glands, strengthens epithelial tissue and forms antiseptic agents found in our hydro-lipidic film. Vitamin A also promotes tissue humidity, which is important, when we consider that most acne skins are dehydrated due to the harsh treatment they receive with more commonly available acne products.
I usually recommend that clients take betacarotene supplements, which is converted in the liver to Vitamin A.
Many other nutrients play an important role when treating an acneic skin. Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin D encourage the skin to heal quickly, reducing the possibility of scarring. Acne can also be a sign of deficiency of potassium, Vitamin B6 or Zinc so it is important to encourage our client to eat foods rich in these elements to eliminate this as a possible cause.
All of these lovely nutrients are useless if our bodies are incapable of digesting them. Check to see if your client suffers from flatulence or indigestion, if so, this can mean an enzyme supplement is also necessary.
Antibiotics are a common form of treatment for our acne clients and some people can become dependant on them. There are however many alternatives, for example, garlic is a naturally occurring antibiotic, echinacea helps by cleansing the blood and Chromium Picotinate aids in reducing infections.
It is also worth cautioning your client against a diet too rich in saturated fats and advice that they avoid alcohol because it is damaging to the liver and adrenals. If my client exercises excessively, I recommend they ease off as this can make them more sensitive to androgens.
Externally I use skin care products containing nutrient-rich herbs. Plants provide a valuable source of treatment because they are very compatible with the skin, penetrating deeply and promoting blood and lymph flow, encouraging cell regeneration, aiding in the healing of the skin, they have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and are capable of regulating the glands of the skin.
Some examples of useful herbs and flowers are:
Balances the oil glands, healing, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Stimulates circulation and promotes the blood flow to the skin.
Estrogenic which helps to counter-act the effect of androgens.
Anti-inflammatory, healing and soothing.
Sedative, soothing, healing and anti-inflammatory.
Healing, astringent and soothing.
Healing, contains Vitamin A and essential fatty acids.
We can most certainly influence the condition of the skin through diet and supplementation. This is particularly true in the case of acne as it is so often caused by a response of the skin to internal imbalances. This approach is more effective than just treating the skin externally and gives us far better results. It also provides the client with the opportunity of actively participating in the healing and wellbeing of their skin.
Balch, P & J. (1997). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. (2nd Ed). New York - Avery Publishing Group
About the Author
Janine Tait - ITEC, CIDESCO, CIBTAC, ABThNZ
Janine Tait is an internationally qualified beauty therapist with over 30 years experience in the beauty industry, a dermo-nutrition expert, and educator with a particular interest in skin health and wellbeing.
Call the appearance of dimpled skin what you will or even, as some do refuse to acknowledge that there is such a concern as Cellulite/ Orange Peel skin The appearance of the body skin is usually of great concern and one of the main reasons for clients to seek body treatment in salon.
So what is cellulite/orange peel skin and can we, as skin care therapists do anything about it?
This is usually a female concern. On average, women have 35 billion fat cells compared to 28 billion for men. What aggravates orange peel skin? Highly refined foods, fizzy drinks, alcohol, coffee, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, hormones. A lot of these factors are more within the clients control so thorough consultation is important and the client needs to have realistic expectations. There is no recognised origin or single cause of cellulite, but a range of predisposing factors.
These may initiate, worsen and perpetuate a cellulite process, mainly in women. The involvement of estrogens is evident, as demonstrated by the emergence and/or presence of cellulite in times of hormonal changes (the problem often starts after puberty and worsens during pregnancy or estrogen therapy during the menopause).
Including sex, race, fatty tissue distribution and characteristics of the hormone receptors on the affected cells.
Less than ideal habits, with abundance of carbohydrates or fat; salt excess and low water intake produce liquid retention (oedema).
Sedentary life worsens the problem because muscles get reduced, local fat accumulations appear, muscle flaccidity increases, and blood circulation is altered. Tight clothes, inadequately supportive shoes, or extended periods of time in the same position also impacts circulation.
Tobacco alters microcirculation, alcohol augments lipogenesis and some medications also contribute to the development of cellulite.
The Why & How
Not only do men have less fat cells they have another difference!
In women, fat cells are organised in cylindrical chambers by surrounding (inflexible) connective tissue. In men, fat cells are organised as smaller diagonal units, this diagonal construction allows for increase of fat cell size without the rippling that occurs on skin with cylindrical fat cells.
Fat cells swell, and capillary walls become excessively permeable slows circulation which leads to slow
lymphatics and slow removal of excess fluids. Adipose cells cluster and are further bound by collagen which further impedes blood flow, connective strands stiffen, pulling down on anchor points giving the orange peel effect. So you can see the problem is not just a matter of fat but a problem with connective tissue, lymphatics, diet etc so needs a multi pronged attack.
Making the grade
When looking at cellulite/orange peel skin in clinic we need to have a grading system:
Stage One: No visible dimpling, some excess fluid apparent. The patient observes only minor symptoms. Thickening of the areolar stratum (the outermost layer of the adipose tissue, which is in contact with dermis), increased capillary permeability,uneven size of adipocytes and micro hemorrhages can be observed. It is a short lasting stage not usually observable to the naked eye.
Stage Two: Excess fluid, jiggly appearance to skin. No dimpling when standing or lying down. Dimples visible when pressed/pinched. The vascular problem worsens. Paleness, lower temperature and decreased elasticity. Minimal alterations appear on the skin surface. Hyperplasia and hypertrophy of the adipocytes and fibres in the area of capillary dilation, micro hemorrhages and thickening of the capillary basal membrane are observed.
Stage Three: Larger areas of excess fluid. Orange peel appearance becomes more evident. Visible dimpling when standing, disappears when lying down. Minor pitting and indurations. Orange peel looking skin is observed. At the histological level, the adipocytes gather into capsules to form micro nodules under the dermal connective tissue. Sclerosis of the small arteries inner layer. If treatment is not applied at this stage, the problem tends to become chronic.
Stage Four: Cottage cheese appearance. Multiple visible lumps under skin. Visible pitting when standing and lying down. Moderate to severe dimpling. Implantation of cellulite is already definitive and the aesthetic alteration is important and observable. The most visible nodules are already palpable, can sometimes be painful.
Stage Five: mattress like appearance. Large, multiple hardened lumps under skin surface (macro nodules) Tender when touched (nerve compression) Major pitting and induration.
Once we have established the severity of the concern before we start any treatment/recommend any lifestyle changes/ recommend any product we need to remind ourselves of what is actually occurring within the cells/systems- which cells and processes are we dealing with and formulate the best way to deal with the malfunction of these systems.
Adipocytes come from stem cells, which are also able to produce other cell types such as muscle-cells or osteoblasts. When differentiated to pre-adipocytes, they can stay in that state or they can differentiate to mature adipocytes.
Differentiated adipocytes lose their ability to divide. However, they have a very long half-life and the ability to store increasing amounts of lipids!!
Adipogenesis is the differentiation process by which pre-adipocyte cells end up as mature adipocytes. Adipocytes are specialised cells regulating the amount of stored fat in the adipose tissue through the basic mechanisms of lipolysis and lipogenesis.
Lipolysis is a catabolic pathway, whereby stored triglycerides (TG) yield free fatty acids (FFA) and glycerol. This pathway is activated as the organism demands energy, which is produced by the subsequent oxidation of FFAs. The activating stimulus is mediated by hormones involving the cyclic AMP pathway such as glucagon and adrenaline.
The lipolysis process starts when these hormones increase cyclic adenosin 3-5monophosphate (cAMP) levels, which induces PKA (Protein kinase A) to phosphorilate a serine on the hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) thus activating it.
Opposite to lipolysis, the lipogenesis process is aimed at storing energy, in the form of TG, into the adipocyte. In this case, the FFAs re-esterify to yield TG. Notice that synthesis of TG requires glycerol phosphate, while lipolysis yields glycerol. Since no glycerol kinase is present in the adipocytes, the occurrence of lipogenesis requires glucose intake, since glucose can be transformed into glycerol phosphate.
The necessary FFAs for lipogenesis usually come in the bloodstream from the diet. However, they can also be synthesised from glucose entering into the adipocyte, with the participation of the enzyme FAS (Fatty Acid Synthase) in a process called lipogenesis de novo.
Solution in summary
So, how do we utilise this information and what responsibility does it confer upon our client, and how does it relate to treatment of our clients? You need to examine your treatment formula for three particular capabilities (and emphasise to the client her part in the process too) Your product supplier should be able to explain to you how their actives work on the following processes:
Adipogenesis inhibition - PREVENTION
Slows down capability of lipid storage (inhibiting those adipocytes from continuing to expand in size)
PREVENTION - Client's responsibility = Diet, EFAs, Water intake
Lipolysis activation - TREATMENT -
Elimination of already accumulated fat (minimising of adipocyte size)
TREATMENT - Client's responsibility = Exercise, EFAs, Water intake
Lipogenesis inhibition -v- KEEP-FIT
Avoids creation of new lipid deposits (inhibits differenciation from pre adipocyte to adipocyte)
KEEP FIT - Client's responsibility = Diet, Exercise, EFAs, Water intake
You must emphasise to your client that treatment of cellulite/orange peel skin takes commitment and that a lot of the responsibility for long term success rests with her.
As a therapist you need to look for ingredients and treatment modalities that target other factors also (apart from solely lipid storage in adipose tissue) such as actives/modalities that focus on improving blood circulation or skin refirming properties.
Remember to nourish the skin adequately (from the inside with diet/supplements) as well as supplying topically the gold standard for healthy looking skin Vitamins A, C E and a full brigade of Antioxidants.
About the Author:
Michelle Woodyard is an ITEC & NaSA qualified professional therapist/educator with over 15 years experience. With eight of those years as a business owner, Michelle intimately understands what level of expertise is required to keep ahead of the competition. Since moving into roles as a technical representative and educator (and currently GM) for leading skin care companies, Michelle (the eternal scholar) has grown both her own knowledge and that of her clients. She loves the industry and is excited to see all the changes occurring. She values her involvement with many inspiring salon owners and staff.