Friday, May 27, 2011

Looking After Your Biggest Organ.

When I was in my young teenage years getting all the unsightly skin problems normal teenagers do, it seemed like it was all about what product you were using on your face. Cleanser? Toner? Moisturiser? Night Cream? Blemish Control Gel? And if you didn't use them all then 'no wonder you have pimples!'

Now that makes me cringe. I've developed more ideas as to what makes 'healthy skin', and lathering your skin with chemicals twice a day isn't on the list. Good hygiene is important but to get great, healthy skin you need to work from the inside out.

Obviously hormones play the major role in acne during teenage years (and no blemish control stick will bring hormones under control). Teenagers with severe acne usually have an excess of androgen hormones, and an effective, natural androgen modulator is a combination of licorice and peony which you could get from anywhere with a herbal dispensary.

There are two main treatments for severe acne from GP's; Roaccutane and the pill (with included cyproterone acetate). Roaccutane is not something that I would ever want to ingest, one of those medications that falls into the category of their side effects being worse than what they were used to treat in the first place. None the less, I will say that it is effective.

In my opinion, you can control your skin (in teenage years and later on down the track) almost entirely with diet. Here are a few things from a naturopathic perspective to keep in mind when trying to achieve healthy looking skin:

-Keep a low GI diet. A low glycaemic index diet has been proven to reduce acne (even in teenagers with raging hormones).

-Drink 2L of water a day, helping to flush out potential toxins and to help your skin from drying out (also see below essential fatty acids).

-Consume antioxidants (like green tea, berries, sprouts). In your average 'night cream', they will usually put in some vitamin E as an antioxidant so they can claim anti-aging benefits. Antioxidants work just as well (even better) coming from the inside and will help to reduce wrinkle onset.

-Put some chlorophyll in your water - also great for eliminating toxins on a day to day basis.

-Don't eat greasy deep fried foods. Josh says that every time he eats KFC he will get a pimple, no exception. It's not really surprising, as eating oily foods will increase the amount of free fatty acids circulating the system (and subsequently coming out your sebaceous glands).

-Include essential fatty acids in your diet. Now this just gets confusing, because I just told you not to have oily foods, now I'm saying DO have oily foods. The difference is the type of oil. Really basically, if your sebaceous glands make sebum (the natural skin oil) with the type of oil that they get from say, deep fried foods, it can irritate the skin. If they produce the sebum with the type of oil they get from things like salmon, linseeds and olives, then it will have a calming effect on the skin. As a supplemental essential fatty acid I like Udo's 3-6-9 Blend.

-Get sweaty! Exercising (or alternatively, hanging out in a sauna a few times a week) is great for the skin because you sweat out all the toxins that can be held in the skin. But remember to drink extra water if you do this.

As far as using products goes, I always wash my face with a face washer, and about 3 times a week I use a natural cleanser on it. If I notice that I'm getting a bit of dry skin I'll also use a natural exfolliant. For moisturiser I use pure organic rose hip oil which I absolutely love, but I know that not everyone can get away with putting straight oil on their skin, it's just that mine tends towards dry rather than oily.

I would say that if you have 'problem skin' and followed everything I've mentioned above pretty strictly, I could almost guarantee you will see a difference in your skin.


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