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Nature's Natural Skincare Process

How does natural skincare work?

Skin is an amazing living organism and is the largest organ in our bodies. We wash it and put products on it but do we really understand how it works and the need for natural skin care to keep it protected and looking naturally beautiful? Our skin is made up of three distinct layers. The top or outer layer is called the epidermis. The second layer is called the dermis. This contains blood vessels, nerve endings, hair roots and sweat glands. The third layer is the subcutaneous fat layer containing larger blood vessels and nerves. It is of course the top layer that acts as the barrier to the elements and all the day to day pollution that it is in contact with. It is this layer that we should look after with a proper washing regime and using the right moisturising creams.
When our skin is dry it often feels rough and flaky. This is because it does not contain sufficient moisture. This top layer or epidermis plays a key role in helping contain moisture within the skin and normally consists of around 15% of water. When this moisture content falls below 10% the skin starts to dry out and that is when we complain of dry skin. It starts to appear flaky, it comes off in small white flakes and as the drying continues, the skin can crack ultimately leading to itching, irritation and even soreness. Some skin types are more prone to dry skin than others and most of us suffer from dry skin in the cold winter months when the sweat glands that are secreting moisture into the epidermis are less active. The skin has a constant process of rejuvenation, growing new cells and shedding the old dead cells. This natural process of exfoliation can usefully be aided by creams but they should not be so abrasive as to destroy healthy tissue or remove too much of the skin's natural defences.
Advertisements for skincare products often refer to the skin as being 'plumped up'. What this refers to are the tiny amounts of fat, salts and amino acids and liquid particles which are packed between the individual cells. This is nature's natural skincare process acting as a natural moisturiser for the skin, reducing moisture loss and keeping the cells plumped up visually, reducing the tiny lines that can detract from our skin's natural beauty and it is these lines that are visually ageing. However, we can easily destroy the skin's natural moisturiser through washing with caustic soaps and through exposure of the skin to the elements, with all the toxic chemicals that are around in today's environment. Altering the skin's natural balance can also effect its efficiency in cell regeneration and if new cells are not being grown the old ones will not be shed as efficiently leaving the skin looking dull and lifeless.

Helping nature's natural skincare process

Today's busy lifestyle means that our skin takes a battering from the elements and from all the chemical contaminants that we unavoidably come across at home and in the workplace. Recent research showed just how many unwanted chemicals we now have in our bodies. Some of these undoubtedly have been absorbed through the skin and most of these chemicals did not even exist 50 years ago. Unfortunately our quest for ever more cost effective cleaning, beauty and garden products has meant the introduction of new chemical concoctions, some of which are now being identified as potentially carcinogenic and dangerous and others as toxic. Our grandparents lived lives where natural skincare was the norm and undoubtedly skincare is more complicated today. But if we take time out to study the ingredients in our skincare products and chose them carefully we can chose the best natural skin care products.
Moisturisers are now an essential part of keeping our skin healthy and beautiful. A moisturiser is important in adding water to the skin to reinforce the skin's own natural process and to keep the skin fully hydrated. This has the effect of keeping the skin plumped up and taught, reducing those lines and keeping the skin subtle and youthful. When a good moisturiser is used the skin becomes slightly more translucent bringing out its natural skin colour and skin tones. Moisturisers not only hydrate the skin but a good moisturiser will also act as a barrier to slow down the evaporation of that important water content from the skin's cells and also to help prevent unwanted pollution from penetrating the skin's defences. Regular use of moisturisers is particularly important for those of us with dry skin or when the cold of winter dries up the natural secretion from the pores of the skin and the skin is shed too fast.

Helpful vitamins for natural skin care

In addition a good moisturiser should contain vitamins to enhance the skin's own defences. The number one natural helper is Vitamin A. This comes under a number of names of which Retinol is perhaps the best known. Vitamin A helps reduce fine lines and has restorative properties. The second key vitamin with great skin benefits is Vitamin E. This vitamin helps repair dry and rough skin and has has a proven ability to help retain moisture in the skin. It is also widely regarded as a healing vitamin. Vitamin B is another important vitamin having moisture retention properties and is sometimes used in place of vitamin E for those with very sensitive skin. Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant and defender against 'free radicals' which are molecules that age the skin as a result of pollution, smoking and sun exposure. Vitamin C can also enhance the synthesis of collagen which is an important skin protein that strengthens the resilience of skin. Finally vitamin K helps repair skin and is particularly effective against those dark eyes through tiredness and for spider veins.

You may want your natural skin care products to have a fragrance but you should always ensure that these fragrances are organic essential oils. Try to avoid products which contain synthetic fragrances which are usually alcohol based concoctions of chemicals. Essential oils in moisturising creams will be the subject of my next article.

Natalie Schunker is an authority on natural skincare and natural skin care products. Apart from writing about her passion she works with a small family business making quality hand made moisturising creams for the face and body.

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