Written by: Jelena Skendžić Ratkajec
Skin care is a real little science that, like a sinusoid, is followed by our personal experiences. From person to person, experiences vary which is perfectly normal and expected because something that suits your skin, maybe won’t suit mine and vice versa. Even when recent knowledge of skin care and skin protection postulates what is the "only right" way to achieve maximum effect on the skin or when we use the most advanced formulations recommended by top experts - our skin will show us whether it agrees with theory in practice or maybe it has some logic of its own. Because we are so different, it’s hard to talk about universal rules; about universally good ingredients and treatment combinations that have been proven to work.
But if your skin is sometimes as moody as mine, which is probably the motive that led you to open this article and learn more about your skin, you are probably still interested in the basics of quality care, and I will do my best to transfer them from my own private and professional experience.
What will you learn in this article?
- Gentle, pH balanced and not too frequent cleansing is extremely important.
- Hydration (a good ratio of moisturisers, emollients and lipids) is needed by all skin types, but it should be reduced to the appropriate application of products intended for our skin type. We can not neglect adequate hydration, but it is also not good to overdo it - especially if you have oily skin prone to imperfections.
- Skin dehydration should not be confused with dermatoses that also manifest as flaking, nor will abundant hydration help to eliminate flaking symptoms. If switching to a gentle cleanser and moisturiser doesn’t help with flaking, it is probably not just dehydration.
- Photoprotective cream (SPF) is probably the most important skincare tool you will encounter. Choose high to very high sun protection factors with a wide range of protection (SPF 30-50; UVA + UVB), and the texture of the product should be appropriate for your skin type: fluid if you have normal to oily skin; cream if your skin is normal to dry.
Our skin exists in symbiosis with microorganisms.
If you’ve ever wondered why we emphasize so much the importance of a well-adjusted pH medium when it comes to Skintegra products, perhaps this fact will answer that question for you. Human skin is naturally acidic and likes products that have a pH of around 5.5, and perhaps the most important among them are gel cleansers. What is this about?
Our acidic skin is inhabited by friendly microorganisms that successfully colonize it when the pH is undisturbed and thus protect us from pathogens: undesirable microorganisms that can cause skin inflammation. An excellent example of such microorganism is S. epidermis, one of the most numerous "friendly" bacteria that produces antimicrobial peptides and thus prevents colonization by other microbes associated with chronic inflammatory skin diseases.
Alkaline cleansers really are as bad as they sound.
Soap, which is naturally alkaline, has an antibacterial effect and non-selectively removes those (for our microbiome) "friendly" bacteria from the skin surface, leaving the skin unprotected and vulnerable to colonization by pathogens which then create a biofilm and lead to infection. That is why it is extremely important not to overdo it with skin cleansing, and especially to avoid alkaline cleansers. pH balanced cleansers and gentle surfactants clean without damaging the skin while sparing friendly colonies that strengthen the skin.
We all know what dehydrated skin is, but too few of us know what TEWL is.
TEWL is a term that refers to transepidermal water loss. It is the main culprit for the uncomfortable feeling of tightness of the skin after cleansing. You see, most of us imagine that dehydration can be solved by endlessly adding moisture to the skin’s surface, and we don’t understand that dehydration is actually the evaporation of moisture from deeper layers of skin through its surface because, for example, with cleansing, we removed its own lipid layer. Without this residual "dirt", the moisture evaporates quickly and leads to dehydration - a discrete surface "cracking" of the skin which resembles dry soil with an accompanying feeling of dryness. That is why it is important to hydrate the skin immediately after cleansing with a product suitable for our skin type and condition.
Too little is not good. Too much also.
If you think dehydration is your main problem because you see unexplained flakes on your skin, think again. The term "dehydrated skin" is well known to us and too often we consider it the main culprit for scaly skin changes, although there are dermatoses that also lead to flaking, and the cause of which is not only (by using wrong skincare) skin that is dried-out but something much more serious. Too many layers of hydration then usually worsen the problem. One such chronic condition is seborrheic dermatitis which is manifested by scales, most often located around the nose, eyebrows and along the hair line with the presence of redness and skin irritation. Seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, perioral dermatitis and other similar dermatoses are often mistakenly associated with skin that needs to be nourished with nutrients, while delaying a visit to the doctor.
Sun protection factor always. Or at least almost always.
SPF as part of daily care is an increasingly popular trend, and with good reason - it not only protects the skin from the mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of UV radiation, but also prevents premature signs of aging. The most common problems I encounter when it comes to this type of product are increased number of pimples as a result of clogged pores and irritations. Let’s start with the first: the increased number of pimples often follows from the fact that we put SPF as an extra layer on an already applied skincare routine which is wrong for all skin types except maybe dry or very dry skin. Too many layers will create an unnecessarily occlusive barrier on already oily or combination skin and lead to acne, even though the product itself would not be comedogenic at all. If the skin is oily, a toner or watery serum is all you need to apply under SPF. The fact that the skin needs to be thoroughly cleansed in the evening, I believe you already know for sure. The filters are designed to stay on the surface of the skin and to resist sweating, makeup, exposure to water - without thorough cleansing, of course they can clog our pores.
And there is irritation.
Another problem is the irritation often caused by UV filters. What is it about? Some (primarily chemical) filters can irritate sensitive skin due to the way they are formulated to adequately protect the skin from UV radiation. It is important to emphasize that when causing irritation, the "guilty" ones are more often filters of the older generation, but sensitive skin can react to any filter - even the new generation one, and even mineral. Sometimes the irritation can only affect the more sensitive skin of the area around the eyes. If we have the same problem with all filters, one way we can try to undo this problem is to try to switch to a lower SPF (for example, 30 instead of 50). A lower filter concentration will be less irritating. In addition, the only thing left for us is to experiment and look for the right combination and concentration of filters that will suit us to protect ourselves from UV radiation abundantly and regularly. Once the quest is over, and SPF becomes a part of our daily lives, we are on our way to a complete and rounded skin care that doesn’t have to be complicated to be visibly effective.