Misty Blue Farm Blog » Skin Care Advice from Ben
This is hands-down the most frequently asked question we receive here at the farm formulary, and as so many of our products are designed to specifically address this issue, I'd like to delve further into the specifics of how your skin's moisture barrier works and how you can keep it healthy.
Your skin's moisture barrier or barrier function is located in the stratum corneum or the top layer of your skin's epidermis. It is comprised of flattened skin cells called corneocytes, ceramides which are waxy lipid molecules, fatty acids and cholesterol. This mix is covered by a hydro-lipid film. The hydro end of that film is your skin's acid mantle, and we discussed acid-mantle maintenance in a previous blog post.
The lipid aspect of this film keeps your skin soft and supple and prevents trans-epidermal water loss. These lipids also act as a shield in keeping out harmful bacteria, pollutants and allergens.
If your skin's moisture barrier is compromised or not working properly, your skin can be dry, flaky, red, irritated and inflamed. You might present signs of dermatitis or eczema. You might experience breakouts and dry skin at the same time.
So, how does the skin's moisture barrier become compromised? Let me count the ways:
First of all, as we age, our skin tends to produce less of the lipids and fatty acids and other compounds our skin needs to stay healthy. That's why as we get older, our skin becomes drier and wrinkled - just compare the skin of a 6 month old to that of a 70 year old. This is natural aging.
Secondly, environmental and lifestyle factors such as sun and wind exposure, smoking, and excessive alcohol or illicit drug consumption can effect your skin's barrier health.
And finally, our personal care habits more than likely contribute the most to a compromised moisture barrier function. How is this? Well, overuse of harsh cleansers, exfoliating too often, not using sunscreen, and overindulging in medi-spa treatments like microblading probably cause the vast majority of barrier function problems for people under 40.
The good news is that with time and proper care, your skin's barrier function can be restored and you can enjoy fresh, healthy dewy skin once more.
Here's some tips on how to restore and/or maintain your skin's moisture barrier:
Do away with harsh surfactant cleansers. Our pure, all-natural soap bars are perfect for getting your cleansing back on track. If you prefer oil cleansing, our soon-to-be-released Balm-to-Milk Emulsifying Cleansing Balm will dissolve all traces of your water-proof makeup and sunscreen while leaving your skin soft and silky, not stripped and tight. And it rinses clean away.
Do not over-cleanse your face. For most of us, our skin needs to be cleansed with soap or a cleanser just once a day. For example, cleansing before bedtime is preferred so that any overnight treatments are allowed to work on freshly cleaned skin. In the morning, a simple splash of cool water or a few spritzes of toner are all that is needed before indulging in the rest of your morning skin care rituals.
Avoid over-exfoliating - both manually and chemically. I recommend light manual exfoliation just once per week and no more. Daily chemical exfoliation (i.e. acids or vitamin C) should be targeted to formulas that are gentle and non-irritating. Use only one or possibly two of these types of products at any given time. If you are trying to repair your moisture barrier, I suggest manually exfoliating once per month and foregoing any products containing acids or Vitamin C until your barrier is restored.
Drink plenty of water. If your body is dehydrated, your skin will be, too.
Avoid heavy sun and wind exposure. If you do plan on spending an extended period outside, make sure to remember your sun hat and wear an appropriate sun screen.
Look for products containing humectants like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and propanediol and skin restoration ingredients like ceramides and peptides. Our soon-to-be-released Moisture Barrier Support Serum is perfectly designed to help you maintain a healthy, working skin barrier.
Use skin care products with high quality lipids and fatty acids. Look for products containing cold-pressed rosehip seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil, borage oil, red raspberry seed oil and others. Our Alli Facial Serum is a perfect nutritive primer for skin that is stressed out and in need of a fast-absorbing lipid infusion.
Avoid skin care products with a lot of coconut oil, as it can be drying and irritating for some. Avoid soy oils in skincare products entirely, due to allergen issues.
And finally, relax and enjoy time spent with yourself. Take time out for your care each day and learn techniques to de-stress. A healthy, happy you is always beautiful!
So, you're nervous now after reading the label on your legacy-brand skin cream - there's a lot of ingredients on there that sound scary, and you're determined for a change. Or perhaps you've had a recent health scare and you realized that your current luxury skin care brand isn't as clean as you'd like and may have been actually contributing to your skin concerns all along. Either way, these products from the skincare industrial complex are doing your health and well-being no favors. Well, bravo to you for seeking out alternatives! It's never too late to detoxify your skin and green up your skin care rituals with truly handcrafted, luxurious products. Let me explain....
It can be a bit daunting to detoxify your life. One must be a veritable bio-chemist such as myself to wade through the mounds of information and research to determine what's safe and what's not, what's toxic and what's not, what's carcinogenic and what's not. We know you don't have time for that, and large skin care manufacturers also count on you not having time to do the research.
It's enough to drive one mad, and it makes for a skin care routine potentially fraught with fear. It strips the joy out of these small snippets of the day we take for our self-care, and we certainly don't want that to happen. Your daily skin care rituals are vitally important time you need to spend with yourself, so let me guide you away from fearmongering.
There are but a few simple tenets you need as a guide to navigate the purchase of natural luxury skin care products and restore the joy in your daily skin care rituals:
1. More is not more. Less is really more. Yes, this old adage still holds true. Does what you are using have 15 ingredients or less? Are each one of those ingredients there for a very specific purpose or are they there simply for marketing "puffery" or to fill up the bottle? You seriously need to question whether you need to be putting more than 15 different ingredients on your face and skin every time you use a skin cream.
2. Some common skincare ingredients have been shown to be potentially bad for your health. For example, parabens are an effective class of skin care preservatives, but there is evidence to suggest propylparaben and butylparaben particularly may have negative health effects. Phthalates, toluene, and formaldehyde are some other ingredients that may potentially be questionable for your health. Until fuller scientific studies are done, it is perhaps best to avoid these ingredients when possible. There are others to worry about, as well, but the above ingredients are found in many non-green skin care formulations. However, they are thankfully easier to avoid than ever nowadays with the plethora of new green skin care brands that formulate without these ingredients.
3. A preservative is essential for any skin care product containing water. Now, while some traditional preservatives are known to be potentially unhealthy for you (see parabens above), not all preservatives are bad, and there are quite a few that are actually Eco-Cert approved for natural skincare products. If the product contains water (including hydrosols, floral waters, aloe vera juice, witch hazel, etc.) it needs a preservative to keep it fresh and free from mold, bacteria and yeast. There is no debate on this. If your water-based product does not have a preservative or preservative system listed on the ingredients and/or the manufacturer cannot explain to you how the formula is effectively protected against microbial contamination, you should be concerned that you might be purchasing an unsafe product.
4. Some ingredients may not be bad for you necessarily, but they might be bad for the environment. This would include silicone-based ingredients such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which get rinsed off and end up getting washed into rivers, lakes and our groundwater. Petroleum-based products such as mineral oil and petroleum jelly are byproducts of the refining industry, and as such are not good for the environment. They are considered cheap fillers and should never appear in any luxury skin care formulation.
5. Avoid micas. Yes, they are naturally-derived, but mica is mined by children in some of the poorest regions of the world, and no one knows what the long-term health effects of this mining has on those children, so it is best to avoid micas entirely. And since mica is heavily processed to get it into a state in which it can be used in skincare products, it really does not resemble the naturally-occurring mineral it once was by the time it gets into your makeup and skin care.
6. Avoid palm oil or palm kernel oil unless it is organic and responsibly sourced. The world's demand for palm oil has created an ecological disaster in places such as the islands of Indonesia. Yes, palm oil is a wonderful natural skin care ingredient, but the environmental costs of harvesting it are too great to bear. If a product contains palm oil, make sure it is sourced from West Africa, where it is sustainably grown.
7. And finally, purchase from a brand you trust. Eco-Cert and Leaping Bunny certificates are all well and good, but they are marketing tools nonetheless. Companies can buy them even when their company practices are less than perfectly green. So, don't just look at labels or beautiful magazine spreads. Dig a little deeper. Reading a company's "About us" page and blog posts and customer reviews will give you a far better idea of who you are buying from than a short snippet in a glossy magazine or a beautiful ad.
Now you're ready and armed with some knowledge! Go ahead and feel good about taking control of your skin health and banish the fear. Are you ready to take the next step and glide into the world of luxurious handcrafted green skincare? We here at Misty Blue Farm Botanicals would be pleased to assist you on your skin care journey and help you discover the benefits of our collection of American grown skin care. Please visit our "About Us" page to continue the conversation or email our client concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an inquiry.