Picture 9Your skin barrier consists of the acid mantle of sebum and perspiration. The hard outer skin proteins formed from dried and flattened skin cells, and the underlying mixture of cells and protein fibers.
Damage to the Skin Barrier and Skin Condition
When the skin’s barrier is compromised, the following problems can occur:
acneBacterial infections (acne)
Virus infections (cold sores)
Fungal infections (athlete’s foot)
Blotches and rashes
Less skin repair and more rapid untimely aging
Skin PH is a chemist’s term for Potential of Hydrogen. Many skin care companies taut how wonderful their product will “make your pH balance”-but most people don’t fully realize what “pH” really means.
Potential of Hydrogen is used to measure the acidity or alkaline in the “outer” layer of skin. (Your barrier). Without getting into scientific rhetoric, your skin needs a “neutral” acid level. A healthy acid level “protects” the skin in many ways.
Antioxidant- lipids (fats) are oxidized to protect the skin from excessive oxidation. As I mentioned in prior articles-this is why “whiteheads” which are oxidized sebum (natural oil in pores) turn into “blackheads” as the sebum is oxidized (hits natural light).
Water Repellent- a healthy skin barrier keeps water retained. Making the skin less vulnerable to dehydration from environmental factors such as sun and wind (for the outdoor active type).
Bacterial Inhibition- a healthy acid balance (pH) keeps skin healthier with less blemishes.
Certain Soaps Can Damage the Skin Barrier
Mainstream soaps have a higher than normal alkaline thus leading to a higher pH level. Inexpensive soaps with synthetic ingredients (actually detergents) strip away the mantle and protective keratin proteins. This makes the skin more vulnerable to the above mentioned damage to the skin barrier.
Increasing Skin Cell Turnover
A key to maintaining a healthy skin barrier is increasing skin cell turnover. Good cell turnover keeps a wonderful constant flow of cells moving “outward” in the skin with a fresh supply of outer skin proteins replacing the old cells.
Exercise is a key factor for healthy skin cell turnover. The dead, older cells need to be removed so other topical nutrients can better penetrate into the skin barrier. Retinoic acid can be irritating to some persons skin so natural hydroxy acids and exfolliants prove to be effective and gentle to the skin barrier.
Let Your Natural Bacteria Protect You
Bacteria is not as horrible as you think. Normal skin has a small amount of bacteria.
This normally harmless bacteria protects you from disease causing harmful bacteria by filling the niches in your skin’s environment that harmful bacteria could occupy. So don’t worry so much about bacteria, a not so fabulous word.
In closing, I must stress how regular “aerobic” exercise improves skin’s healthy barrier. It does remarkably improve skin quality. Exercise increases blood capillary density in the skin and improves the nutrition of cells.
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Inga Yandell
Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.