The TRUTH About Dry Skin

Posted on March 09 2019

The TRUTH About Dry Skin

Dry skin is an incredibly common complaint, especially during the cold dry winter months. The first thing people do when their skin feels “dry” is slather on a moisturizer, only to have the skin feel just as dry or even DRIER as soon as the moisturizer is washed off. Why? Because dry skin isn’t a topical issue - it’s a metabolic issue.

Why moisturizers don’t work:
What most people experience as “dry skin” - that rough, scaly feeling skin - is actually HARD skin. Moisturizers simply soften the surface, alleviating the feeling of hardness, while doing nothing to address the underlying cause of dryness. Even the most expensive and perhaps efficacious moisturizers do little more than deposit a composite of wax, oil, glycerin, glycol emulsifier, water and preservatives to the skin surface barrier with a layer of goo which has little to do with skin “moisturization”.

The TRUTH is human skin should never be dry and the condition, which dermatologists call “xerosis” that affects millions of Americans, is more than a superficial inconvenience.

Dry Skin is a Metabolic Issue:

Now that we’ve established that dry skin is not a topical issue, it’s important to understand where the breakdown occurs - with the metabolic system.

First, we need to understand how healthy skin receives and maintains adequate levels of hydration. It happens in two ways:
Outside-in: the stratum corneum, or top layer of the skin, contains Natural Moisture Factor (NMF), which is highly humectant and binds water, trapping environmental water (read: humidity and/or skin care) within the surface layer of the skin.
Inside-out: lower layers of the skin (lower dermis and epidermis) are hydrated by internal bodily fluids. The ground substance, a component of the dermis, is made up of glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, and other connective tissues that bind internal water, provide transport of nutrients, hormones and waste products, and lubricate the various components of the skin.

So, in order to have adequately hydrated skin, we need NMF and connective tissues like glycolsaminoglycans and hyaluronic acid. But it’s not as easy as ONLY applying topical products that contain hyaluronic acid because, although helpful for the top layer of the skin, these molecules are too big to absorb into the lower layers of our skin and therefore only address a small part of the problem. The NMF and connective tissues REQUIRED for essential skin hydration are CREATED through chemical processes that are regulated by our metabolic systems.

The metabolism is the sum of all chemical reactions that are involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and the organism. We’ve all heard about our metabolism in terms of weight loss, but it’s really so much larger than that - our metabolism regulates all the processes that allow us to grow and reproduce, maintain our structure, and effectively respond to our environments.

Metabolic reactions are categorized into two states:
    Catabolic - the breaking down of compounds to release energy
    Anabolic - the building up of compounds, which requires energy

All metabolic reactions are fueled by food and nutrition, which provide the energy to run these cellular processes, and the building blocks with which to BUILD and MAINTAIN cellular structure and function. When there is a lack of adequate nutrition, the body enters a catabolic state, or a state of breakdown. This is when the body begins breaking down healthy tissues and structures, including our connective tissues, to provide fuel for basic function.

When our bodies enter this catabolic state, it opens the door for a host of issues, the first signs of which can present as dry, dull, tired skin, sagging skin, and overall sluggishness and tiredness. Like all the organs of the body, nutrition and hydration play a key part in the optimal functioning of the skin and helping maintain it is less about cosmetic appearance than it is about health and wellness.

To truly eliminate the cause of dry skin, you need to effectively fuel the metabolism. Internal nutrients, Vitamin A , Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids are vital. Because Amino Acids play a significant role in water trapping, make sure you’re ingesting enough protein. And, from a topical perspective, Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic, Lactic and Salicylic) can activate production of the skin’s natural moisture factors along with Vitamin A (retinol and retinoic acid) and Vitamin C to support the synthesis of hyaluronic acid and moisture-locking skin lipids (fats).

Now that we’ve established that dry skin is not just a topical issue, it’s important to understand where the breakdown occurs - with the metabolic system.

First, we need to understand how healthy skin receives and maintains adequate levels of hydration. It happens in two ways:

  • Outside-in: the stratum corneum, or top layer of the skin, contains Natural Moisture Factor (NMF), which is highly humectant and binds water, trapping environmental water (read: humidity and/or skin care) within the surface layer of the skin.
  • Inside-out: lower layers of the skin (lower dermis and epidermis) are hydrated by internal bodily fluids. The ground substance, a component of the dermis, is made up of glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, and other connective tissues that bind internal water, provide transport of nutrients, hormones and waste products, and lubricate the various components of the skin.


So, in order to have adequately hydrated skin, we need NMF and connective tissues like glycolsaminoglycans and hyaluronic acid. But it’s not as easy as ONLY applying topical products that contain hyaluronic acid because, although helpful for the top layer of the skin, these molecules are too big to absorb into the lower layers of our skin and therefore only address a small part of the problem. The NMF and connective tissues REQUIRED for essential skin hydration are CREATED through chemical processes that are regulated by our metabolic systems.

The metabolism is the sum of all chemical reactions that are involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and the organism. We’ve all heard about our metabolism in terms of weight loss, but it’s really so much larger than that - our metabolism regulates all the processes that allow us to grow and reproduce, maintain our structure, and effectively respond to our environments.

Metabolic reactions are categorized into two states:
    Catabolic - the breaking down of compounds to release energy
    Anabolic - the building up of compounds, which requires energy

All metabolic reactions are fueled by food and nutrition, which provide the energy to run these cellular processes, and the building blocks with which to BUILD and MAINTAIN cellular structure and function. When there is a lack of adequate nutrition, the body lacks the energy and fuel required to build, which results in the body enters a catabolic state, or a state of breakdown. This is when the body begins breaking down healthy tissues and structures, including our connective tissues, to provide fuel for basic function.

When our bodies enter this catabolic state, it opens the door for a host of issues, the first signs of which can present as dry, dull, tired skin, sagging skin, and overall sluggishness and tiredness. Like all the organs of the body, nutrition and hydration play a key part in the optimal functioning of the skin and helping maintain it is less about cosmetic appearance than it is about health and wellness.

To truly eliminate the cause of dry skin, you need to effectively fuel the metabolism. Internal nutrients, Vitamin A , Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids are vital. Because Amino Acids play a significant role in water trapping, make sure you’re ingesting enough protein. And, from a topical perspective, Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic, Lactic and Salicylic) can activate production of the skin’s natural moisture factors along with Vitamin A (retinol and retinoic acid) and Vitamin C to support the synthesis of hyaluronic acid and moisture-locking skin lipids (fats).

 

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