A Skinful - Welcome to our “Everything Skin” Series
So many of our customers take Edible Health collagen to help improve and/or maintain skin health and vitality. As a result, we’re really excited to bring this latest series to you, which focuses entirely on the skin. In this series, we will share with you:
We explore the role this powerful protein plays in regenerating and maintaining the skin and how ageing and other factors can slow down our own natural production of collagen. By understanding the role of collagen in our skin health, we can become aware of the telltale signs that indicate levels are depleting, and seek alternative sources of this essential protein.
Moving towards a new equinox can influence change in our complexion. We look into the most significant of these, and discuss ways in which these changes can be avoided or managed so that our skin remains radiant and healthy.
Discover how decades of intermittent fasting have served as deposits into Corinna’s “bank of wellbeing”, and why she believes this (as well as collagen powder, of course!) have contributed to her and partner Simon’s enviable youthful appearance.
Plagued for years with this terrible skin condition, Anna’s hands would appear red, sore and itchy at best, or breakdown into painful open wounds at worst. Learn how an encounter with collagen resulted in remarkable and rapid improvements to Anna’s skin.
Could the problem lie not in the symptom, but in a deeper cause? Is your skin your body’s yellow canary, a sign that internal healing may be needed before external healing can truly begin?
This series is packed full of information! We really hope it helps you achieve your own personal complexion goals.
By way of introduction into this series, we feel it’s important to first to step back and have a fresh look at this incredible organ. So, without further ado, let’s remind ourselves what skin is made of and how remarkably it works. We might even raise some eyebrows as we look at how skincare has changed throughout history and from culture to culture.
What is the role of our skin?
Our bodies’ largest and heaviest organ, the skin has a hugely important and equally varied role to play. Included in this extensive list of features and responsibilities are:
- Temperature regulator - the skin helps to control the transfer of heat out of the body and is our very own evaporative cooler (the process of sweating)
- Barrier - it’s the layer protecting our insides from everything that could potentially harm us on the outside
- Sensory - through the sense of touch we are able to tangibly connect with and feel our environment
- Vitamin D - the only way we can naturally produce vitamin D, which is crucial to well-being, is through the skin’s exposure to sunlight. UV rays from the sun make contact with cholesterol in our skin cells, which creates the energy required for Vitamin D synthesis to occur
- Immunity - 20 billion T-cells exist on the surface of the skin. They not only protect us from wounds, but they depend upon contact with microorganisms from other humans and our environment to build up our immunity from the outside in.
What is our skin composed of?
Good question - it is so much more than what we see from the outside. There are three layers to our skin:
1. Epidermis (outer layer)
This part of our skin is what is visible, and its primary role is to protect the body. Because there are no blood vessels existing at this layer, the epidermis is reliant on the following layer (see the dermis, below) to access nutrients. Keratinocytes are the most prevalent cell within this layer, and their job is to synthesise keratin, the protein for making hair, skin and nails. A constant life cycle of cell renewal occurs as Keratinocytes originate from deep within the epidermis, gradually moving up to the outside layer before they harden and die off. By the time this happens, they are already getting replaced by the next cycle.
This process happens about every four weeks, but will occur faster in areas where the skin is rubbed regularly. As a result, these areas (think of your feet, for example) become thicker and often develop calluses. Moreover, some parts of our body naturally have thicker or thinner layers of epidermis than others. For example - the skin under your eyes or on your elbows is more delicate than areas that will receive more impact and use, such as the bottom of your feet or the palms of your hands. Sometimes the cycle is negatively impacted by illness.
It is the epidermis layer that contains melanin (a pigmentation and natural UV barrier), sensory cells (that can feel pressure), and cells that help to protect against germs as well as the millions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that compose the skin microbiota.
2. Dermis (middle layer)
This is the layer of skin that is composed of collagen, which gives skin its strength and elasticity. It is the layer that contains nerves as well as capillaries, which are responsible for carrying oxygenated blood around the body, and helping to regulate temperature. This middle section is important in that it supports and protects the deeper layers, and helps to facilitate sensation and temperature regulation.
3. Subcutis (deepest layer)
This layer is largely composed of fat and connective tissue. It helps insulate our body as well as protect bones and joints from impact, bumps and hits. This is where vitamin D is produced along with other necessary hormones.
The history of skincare around the world
In modern day times, it’s fair to say Western culture is borderline obsessed with the look and condition of skin. So, has this changed over time? We’re fascinated to discover the answer is a resounding no! It seems that, throughout history, humans have always been preoccupied with achieving great skin (however that may have been interpreted across time and cultures).
As humans, we’ve been fussing over our complexion since the dawn of time. The women of ancient Egypt turned to honey and milk masks to help moisturise, and used dead sea salts to exfoliate. In Greece, women also blended masks, but these often included wild berries or olive oil bases. In ancient India, the seasons dictated the skincare trends. A 1500 year old book of Ayurveda, the Ashtānga Hridaya, details six different formulations to be used for the six seasons of the year, whilst ghee (a form of fat) was and still is regarded as a fundamental tool in achieving and maintaining beautiful skin.
In Medieval times, animal fats were often the primary base for a skincare routine, honey was mixed with flowers or leaves to form facial pastes, and vinegar was applied to oily complexions. In dynastic China, it was not unusual for Empresses to apply mung bean paste facials in an effort to keep acne at bay, not to mention drinking regular teas and using jade rollers.
Things really got interesting during the Renaissance, with mercury, lead and chalk becoming go-to ingredients for giving the face a dose of colour. Later still, in the Baroque era, it became de rigueur to sweat it out - to purify the skin with sauna sessions. This was no doubt particularly necessary given that same period became somewhat obsessed with a quite literally painted face, and a coloured lip became all the rage.
One could, however, argue that they were late to catch on - women in Northern Africa had for centuries enjoyed a traditional hammam, which is both a ritualistic skin purification process as well as a female bonding activity. In the nineteenth century it was chic to be pale and blemish-free, so zinc oxide was applied (often with reactive, allergic consequences), as were lemon juice solutions to try and spot-whiten the complexion.
Although an organic approach might be relatively late-blooming in mainstream western skincare, it was the backbone to helping Japanese Geishas maintain their ethereal complexions. Rice bran masks, green tea, fermented foods and an abundance of seaweed and oranges helped feed skin with essential nutrients, and enable it to withstand the relentless routine of heavy make-up. When it comes to fresh fruit, Polynesian women have been known to rub pineapple on their skin whilst preparing it also for meals. The enzymes help slough dead skin cells and also act as a brightener.
We can’t help but be a little relieved we’re living in the 21st century and not succumbing to some of these treatments!
When it comes to more modern-day alternatives, there’s no end of advice, science and goodness, but there are also a lot of gimmicks. This series is all about helping you consider some authentic options now available to you. Be sure to check out our other articles on caring for the skin during changing seasons, fasting and the role of collagen supplements in achieving optimum skin health and appearance (but perhaps steer clear of mercury, lead and chalk eh?!…).
The information we have provided herewith, and all linked materials, are not intended nor should they be construed as medical advice. Moreover, the information herewith should not be used as a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions and consult your General Practitioner for advice specific for you.