Importance of skin hydration for cell turnover
Most people understand that skin hydration is important for healthy skin. After all most people apply a moisturising cream on daily basis in an attempt to stop their skin from becoming dry.
However skin hydration is much more than dryness. Hydration also affects the skins ability to renew in the dermis and for skin cells to shed effectively from the epidermis. If the skin is lacking in hydration (often referred to as dehydrated skin), then enzymatic function cannot occur. This leads to a build up of cells on the skins surface. The obvious response would be to exfoliate the skin at this point. However is this correct?
I take an ‘Advanced skin approach’ to skin health. I am sometimes asked by clients what this means. ‘Advanced skin’ can mean different things, depending on the practitioner you speak to. However to me the ‘advanced skin approach‘ is an analytical, diagnostic and corrective approach to skin treatment. It means going beyond the basics of traditional skincare.
The Advanced Skin Approach
The traditional beauty approach when faced with a ‘dehydrated skin’ and a build up of epidermal cells (notice I don’t call them dead, as the stratum corneum is very much alive) would be to exfoliate and moisturise the skin. While this improves the symptoms, by removing the cellular build up and hydrating the upper layers of the skin, it fails in one major area.
It doesn’t stop to ask the question ‘Why?’. To me, this is where the ‘Advanced Skin Approach’ is different. It’s an analytic approach using an in-depth understanding of skin science and physiology to ask ‘Why is this happening?’. Then putting together a corrective plan to prevent it long term, rather than repeatedly treating symptoms.
In terms of cellular build up and the skin not exfoliating (desquamating) itself effectively, it needs access to free water in the epidermis. Water plus an acidic environment are needed for the protease enzymes to function. These enzymes breakdown the bonds holding cells together. If water is unavailable, the enzymes can’t function effectively and the bonds remain intact. Leading cells to become clumped together and giving a ‘flaky’ appearance on the surface of the skin.
So do we need to use more moisturiser? Seems a logical thought process I guess, if the skin is lacking in water we need to add more water. This is the premise for most beauty treatments and products.
While its true we need to ensure the skin has access to more water, it’s important to understand where from. For this we need to understand where the process of desquamation begins. Cells are eventually shed from the upper stratum corneum. However the desmosome bonds that bind cells together actually begin to degrade deeper within the epidermis, in the stratum granulosum layer. If this process doesn’t start well, its affected later on and results in cellular build up.
Now lets consider that most moisturisers (with the exception of low-level hyaluronic acids) only hydrate the upper stratum corneum only. The stratum granulosum sits below our skins lipid bi-layer structure, therefore water-based ingredients can’t pass through. Unless they are encapsulated in a liposome delivery system.
Just while we’re on the topic of the stratum corneum – Did you know to remain healthy the water content should be only around 15%? The rest is composed of Natural Moisturising Factors (NMF), ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids. So by over-applying moisturisers you could be effectively saturating the skin and causing further imbalance.
The water therefore must be available from within the skin. The dermis and deeper layers of epidermis. So how do we ensure skin hydration and free water available to facilitate enzyme activity? Firstly keeping the body hydrated is fundamental. The skin is always last in priority, so if the body is lacking enough water then skin hydration will always be the first to suffer. So drinking around 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day can help to maintain overall hydration levels. H3O Hydration and H3O Night Repair provide superior cellular hydration. Both supplements contain electrolytes that provides minerals and ions that are key for hydration. This allows cells in the body to utilise water better than drinking plain water.
Improving Skin Hydration
However one key factor is the integrity of skin barrier function. Providing you’re drinking enough water, the barrier function ensures the skin is able to retain it effectively. If the skin barrier is compromised then it loses too much water, too quickly. This leads to all sorts of skin issues. Including poor enzyme activity and desquamation, leading to a build of cells on the surface.
Coming back to the topic of exfoliation. Aggressive exfoliation is one of the leading factors of compromised barrier function. Therefore it makes no sense to fall into the perpetual cycle of regular exfoliation to help with a build up of cells. If done correctly with purified gentle AHA’s and enzymes, then exfoliation is beneficial. However done too regularly using AHA’s such as glycolic which exfoliate on a deeper level, can cause irritation which leads to a compromised skin barrier.
Instead consider using Retinaldehyde, a form of Vitamin A proven to restore the barrier function. A purified AHA’s such as L-Lactic Acid, proven to boost ceramide production and act as a humectant. Also Trioxolane, is a highly bioavailable, stabilized oxygen molecule. The skin and body use it to fight pathogens, repair oxidative damage and improve overall immunity to repair the skin barrier.
Focusing on skin barrier support rather than exfoliation alone, helps to retain water in the deeper layers. Ensuring the process of desquamation begins correctly so cells shed individually from the upper layers. This prevents that the ‘flaky’ appearance of cellular buildup and maintains a youthful, dewy complexion.
To learn more and to ensure your skincare regime is ‘corrective’ rather than simply treating symptoms, book an appointment for an Advanced skin consultation and in-depth skin analysis.