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Your skin is an organ of your body – just like your heart, brain, liver, kidneys etc.
It is also the organ you can see from the outside, so can sometimes provide insight into what is going on internally. When you go to the Dr with a skin problem, often the treatment approach is external only – but from a naturopathic point of view, this is only one side of the story. We will investigate & attack from all angles – looking at the systems involved in supporting skin health from below, as well as what’s going on at surface level. Below are some of the best natural tips to support healthy, radiant skin at any age:
1) Circulation is paramount – both blood & lymphatic.
Get that blood pumping through all the teeny tiny vessels that supply your skin with oxygen, nutrients, immune cells etc – & remember that your lymphatic system (which is like your body’s garbage disposal system) cannot pump anything without exercise to help it along. Expecting to have healthy skin without exercising is like expecting to have great skin whilst going to sleep in your makeup each night – you need to be cleansing the ‘gunk’ away from the inside as well as from the outside!
2) Remember your skin microbes!
Just like your gut, your skin is absolutely crawling with microbes (don’t be grossed out – they are mostly good guys) who are there helping us clean up / keep out invaders / maintain a balanced, protective ‘ecosystem’ to surround ourselves with. Just keep your microbes in mind next time you’re in the pharmacy reaching for the ‘antibacterial-kill-everything-type-cleanser’. The aim isn’t hospital-like sterile skin, but to have a happily balanced layer of natural bugs – that’s the way we’re designed. Obviously, this system can be interfered with when we use copious amounts of chemical product on our skin, so keep in mind you’ll be healthier with balanced bugs than sterile skin – get outside into nature regularly, hug some trees, roll in the fields, swim in the ocean, play in the mud, dig in the garden, pat the dog, visit a farm…studies show that more bug exposure = healthier humans. Get dirtier :)
3) Support the gut & liver.
Most of us who take notice of how our bodies’ react to food, will know that our skin can totally reflect what is going on in the gut & the liver. Supporting the digestive system & liver means we’ll have more efficient elimination of toxins, better hormonal balance, less inflammation & an immune system that behaves as it should (not too reactive, just reactive enough). Gut again is home to our helpful microbes – these are crucial to our digestion & absorption of nutrients, to maintaining a functional gut-lining, & to keep up the correct communication with our immune system. These microbes need a diverse range of fibre to eat – so keep sending it down to them! Gut & liver hate antibiotics, medications, processed foods, sugar, alcohol, excess animal products, gluten…steer clear of these as much as possible, & go for loads of fibrous fresh veg, nuts, seeds, fermented foods, oily fish, gelatinous bone broths, & green smoothies). Gut & liver working well = healthy blood, less toxicity, less inflammation, healthy immunity. Skin thrives when the supporting systems are strong.
Goes without saying – but so often we forget! Our skin will look very sad if we are all dried-up on the inside from lack of fluid! Best skin beverages are water & herb teas.
5) Sunshine – (in moderation)!
We need sunshine on our skin to make vitamin D – obviously don’t overdo it & get fried, but getting some sunshine (in moderation) is very skin-healthy.
6) Nutrition – good food builds good skin!
Protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants…your skin needs them, & you can’t cover up a junk food diet with make-up (well not for long anyway!) Our skin cells are constantly renewing themselves, always rebuilding (which requires many nutrients for it to work well). Anyone who is malnourished will show it in their skin – just look at the skin of those battling with anorexia, alcohol & drug addiction – & how it can change so rapidly with recovery. Nourishment from within = radiance from the outside! Avoid or test yourself with the common skin triggers like wheat / gluten, dairy, soy, poor quality oils, fried foods, sugar, alcohol etc).
7) Nourish from the outside too!
A certain amount of whatever you rub into your skin will end up inside of you. Not ideal then to be using products made from chemicals…many of the ingredients found in our daily skin routine are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (they mess with our hormones) or just plain toxic. There are many natural products available now, without the toxicity – & full of nourishing & cleansing botanicals – like aloe vera, herbs, good oils, minerals from clays etc…you can even make your own products from inexpensive ingredients like oats, honey, clay, avocado, lemon juice, etc etc – there are many recipes to be found online – look for those formulated by either a beauty therapist, aromatherapist or naturopath for best results! Or experiment yourself if game – just remember to patch test first!
Here’s one of my latest skin experiments – with PondWater!
FOR A 15 MINUTE, SUPER SKIN TREAT…try this circulation-boosting, nourishing, cleansing, softening SKIN MASK made with only 2 ingredients – super easy to make at home! All you need is PondWater & some clay!
1) mix 1tsp of natural clay mask – green, pink or white will work (available from any good health food store) with 1 flat tsp of PondWater & add a little water if required to turn it into a nice paste.
2) Massage gently onto the skin, & leave on until it begins to dry & crack, then remove with warm water, pat dry & feel the silky-smooth fresh skin!
3) Follow with a natural moisturiser, pure aloe gel, or coconut oil. This makes enough mask for 2 faces…so grab your mum / sister / besty / partner…& get green-faced together :)