Let's start with the fact that skin is not aging due to an accumulation of dead skin cells and that "new" skin underneath those dead skin cells isn't new so much as it is immature, vulnerable and not quite ready for the transition to the outer layer of skin we are pushing it prematurely towards.
So what is happening?
Reactive oxygen species is not something you likely have heard of and it is not something that is commonly mentioned when discussing aging or skincare in general. The beauty industry is always looking for ways to over-simplify things with flashy metaphors and the occasional half assed science, which is understandable to an extent; people’s eyes do tend to gloss over when information tends to get too in depth. But that isn’t how we do things here at Skin & Bare It; we believe in really understanding the skin in order to properly address it, otherwise we tend to believe and fall for casual marketing which is always trying to sell you the next best thing regardless of fact or fiction.
If you can understand what is really going on underneath the surface, then you can better understand what you actually need and why, and more effectively filter through the smoke and mirrors.
Back to Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)...
Skin is a major target of oxidative stress due to reactive oxygen species which originate in the environment and even in the skin itself. This means that ROS (as we will refer to Reactive Oxygen Species from this point on) is a natural part of normal cellular function, but it can also be generated in excess due to things like UV radiation. Our body is typically capable of minimizing the damage caused by ROS, but as we age, as exposure levels rise, as we are further exposed to pollutants, UV radiation, stress and a number of other facts and ROS accumulate within the body.
The health of overall functions within our body naturally slow down and declines with age, so to does our body’s ability to minimize damage cause by this oxidative stress. With that decline, inflammation levels throughout the body rise and our skin is no exception here.
Continuous, low-grade inflammation builds up with time and gradually causes tissue damage. It is considered one of the driving forces for many age-related diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Alzheimer’s and ultimately skin aging. There is mounting evidence that indicates aging is driven by the pro-inflammatory cytokines and substances produced by our body’s innate immune system.
In fact, because research and data on this process as it pertains to aging is so prevalent and currently being analyzed so thoroughly, they have dubbed the whole thing “inflammaging”.
Now hopefully you have somewhat more of an idea as to why the people who know and understand skin drone on and on about SPF (because if I'm sick of hearing it, I'm sure you are too). It is simply because an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure and slapping products on your skin once this process is already in full effect is certainly not going to yield the overnight results so often promised by those aggressive treatments mentioned before.
So then why do they make those claims and why do they offer those treatments?
Ahh yes, the constant conundrum of why. For most cases it is simply a lack of education and that they just don't know better. Education in the beauty industry is severely lacking so it's a tough war to wage! Ultimately the reason people think they want to offer resurfacing treatments and get aggressive is theoretically to influence and trigger a “healing” response in the skin. So let's say that you are already experiencing continuous low-grade inflammation as we age (which we know to be the case), and you then opt to add in these aggressive treatments, which may trigger that healing response in the skin as desired, sure, but in doing so they also trigger an inflammatory response in the skin.
Inflammation can mimic results where skin is concerned; it temporarily plumps the skin, adds a bit of color and a certain “glow” that many are constantly on the hunt for, but this is going the be at the expense of your skin’s overall long term health, because ultimately what you are doing is contributing to that oxidative stress and compounding issues by kicking them down the road.
This is especially true if the skin barrier is not addressed properly and if inflammation is not properly managed post treatment. In my professional experience, more often than not, those things are both not addressed properly. It can be tempting to see immediate before and afters and be completely wowed, but what they just don't show you is the skin a few days later, a week later, a month later....
"Inflammation can mimic results where skin is concerned; it temporarily plumps the skin, adds a bit of color and a certain “glow” that many are constantly on the hunt for, but this is going the be at the expense of your skin’s overall long term health"
So what can we do to truly support the aging process and ensure that we are offering our skin the support it needs rather than playing whack-a-mole and chasing the next temporary glow? We can support the skin by treating it like the complex organ it is rather than attempting to peel back layers of aging to hunt for the youthful skin underneath, because sadly, that narrative is 100% false. The skin you have is the skin you have so instead of removing it or abusing it, it is important to protect and nourish it.
PROTECTION AND PREVENTION IS KEY
As I mentioned earlier, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… we’ve touched on how what we do today can impact our skin and bodies negatively down the road. But if we are careful and conscious about what we put in and on our bodies, if we make an attempt right out of the gate to limit inflammation by eating right and avoid damage by practicing safe sun protection early on, we can also minimize the damage we have to deal with later on.
Skin contains natural antioxidant defenses, which allow our bodies to naturally tackle ROS including free radicals produced excessively by UV exposure. Unfortunately these defenses will be overwhelmed if the dose of UV light is high or frequent enough. This results in free radical damage to cellular components such as proteins, lipids and DNA ultimately leading to cellular death.
Ensuring that you are using quality antioxidants in your skincare regimen, especially during those summer months when UV exposure is heightened is crucial.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Featuring a highly bio-available form of Vitamin C, which strengthens collagen, brightens the complexion and supports the appearance of smaller pore size.
Both internal and topical anti inflammatories speak for themselves when we recognize aging for the inflammatory process it truly is. Increasing the anti inflammatory properties of every step of your skincare regimen can help you combat this natural process to ensure your skin remains healthy for longer. As mentioned previously, inflammation can lead to many age related diseases. The skin is an incredibly large organ, the largest in fact, and as aging skin begins to break down, the immune system releases small inflammatory proteins to signal that there’s inflammation in damaged areas of the skin. These tiny inflammatory cytokines can leak into the body’s circulation system, and trigger body-wide inflammation. Recent studies have shown that caring for the skin in a manner which prevents this breakdown ie providing moisture, hydration and protection, can actually help lower your risk of age related diseases such as dementia.
AnteAGE 2 step system Serum and Accelerator (and their more potent MD Serum and Accelerator)
Some of the most potently anti-inflammatory and healing products we have come across and a favorite of clients who are regularly microneedled in the treatment room. These products are powerfully anti aging, antioxidant, anti inflammatory and regenerative. They do it all.
BARRIER REPAIR AND SUPPORT
Your skin barrier is your skin’s biggest defense against inflammation. Supporting this protective barrier and ensuring it remains healthy at all times is the only way to ensure all of the above efforts are maximized and not in vain.
About the Author:
Dru Pattan is a Licensed Esthetician who specializes in acne while taking a skin healthy approach to sustainably healthy skin known as Corneotherapy. She believes that we don't need to beat the skin into submission to make it comply. By monitoring the skin's needs and offering nourishment we are able to heal common ailments which can often seem lifelong and defeating.
Dru has been licensed since 2014 and has spent the majority of that time relentlessly hunting down advanced education within the industry. When she herself is not studying, she is offering education and support to clients and other professionals within the industry.