Why Does Healthy Skin Matter?

by Marie Veronique Skin Experts

 

 

Having a glowing complexion is a wonderful thing! However, it’s important to realize that while beauty may be your primary motivator for adopting smart skin care practices, the reasons to take care of your skin go far beyond looking good. As we covered in our post about The Structure and Function of the Skin, the skin is the largest and fastest growing organ, and one we’re still learning about every day. Though it happens to be on the outside of our body, it’s integral to the health of our internal body as well. 

In this post we’ll go over some of the reasons taking care of your skin is critical to overall wellness. While we don’t expect you to be experts on anatomy and physiology (that’s our job), we do think it’s helpful to have some understanding of how the skin works. This will help you understand why our products work, as our products are biomimetic, meaning they mimic the body’s innate biochemical processes for achieving its optimal state. 

Before we dive in, it's critical to understand one thing: human skin has adapted to its changing environment over millennia. Along with that collection of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms known as the microbiome that resides in and on you, the skin is highly specialized to fulfill its mission: protecting and ensuring the survival of the entire organism. So keep that in mind when you choose your skincare products and practices – above all we want you to focus on strengthening your skin, not stripping it or otherwise disrupting its natural genius. (Note that using topicals is just one element of influencing skin health – our microbiome-friendly guide to skin care and our guide to delivering essential micronutrients topically offer valuable guidance for starting or building an effective regimen.)

 

Here is an overview of what we know about the skin’s most critical functions.

  • Protective shield against heat, light, injury, and infection. You may be thinking, “no kidding,” but it’s worth pointing out that your skin is the physical barrier between you and the rest of the world. As such, it has a big job. Not only does it serve the role of holding your organs and tissue in, but there’s a lot it has to keep out as well – toxins, pollution, light, etc. 


  • First line of defense against pathogens and disease/home to the microbiome. As the body’s guardian, your skin is the front line for all threats from pathogens. Your epidermis is inhabited by Langerham cells, which serve as messengers that activate the body’s immune response when a pathogen invades. Langerham cells are aided in the effort to repel pathogens by the skin’s microbiome, the colony of about a trillion different microorganisms of about a thousand different species that reside in and on you. When the microbiome is in balance, it helps keep pathogens at bay — and you disease-free.

 

  • Sensation of heat, cold, pain, pressure, and vibration. Your skin is also responsible for one of the five critical ways we’re able to perceive the world around us: the sense of touch. Touch is enabled by a massive network of receptors and nerve endings found throughout our skin that give us the ability to absorb and interpret bodily sensation, including temperature, pain, pressure, and vibration. Touch is also an important means of bonding with other humans. 

 

  • Regulation of body temperature and moisture. You can think of your skin as the body’s thermostat, as it’s responsible for maintaining the body’s temperature. When blood vessels in the skin are constricted, the body maintains heat, and when they are dilated, heat is released. Your skin also cools itself by activating sweat glands, which produces a cooling effect when sweat evaporates, and your body hair helps to keep you warm.

 

  • Storage of water and fat. The deepest layer of skin acts as a storehouse, holding water, fat, and metabolic products that are instrumental in other bodily functions. 

 

  • Synthesis of Vitamin D. Absorbing UV rays from sunlight activates the process of synthesizing Vitamin D, which our bodies require to maintain strong and healthy bones. It is possible to get enough Vitamin D from your diet and supplements if you’re thoughtful about nutrition, however it’s much more efficient to get it from sunlight. We recommend always using SPF on the face or wearing a hat, but direct, unprotected exposure on the body can be wonderful for your health. If you’re lighter skinned, aim for 10-30 minutes of sunlight on your body, and if your skin is darker, you may need a little more. Just make sure you’re being mindful of your skin’s level of sensitivity to sunlight. You want to strike the right balance between getting enough sun and avoiding sunburn. 

 

  • Growing hair. The follicles that grow your hair are located in the dermis, the skin’s middle layer between the epidermis and the subcutaneous layer. In addition to providing a lovely frame for your face, hair provides protection, helps regulate your skin temperature, and also assists in sensation. The phenomenon known as “goosebumps” happens when the tiny muscles known as arrector pili contract and pull our hair up in response to emotion or cold.

 

    • An outward sign of health. The condition of your skin sends a signal to the world about your overall health. Is it dry or dull? Itchy or greasy? Symptomatic or luminous? Or maybe even bright, even, and plump? The quality and radiance of your skin (or lack thereof) speak volumes in terms of your level of wellness and vitality. And that, as we all know, has many implications.

     

    • Healthy skin helps keep the skin healthy. One final, really important (and often overlooked) fact is that the healthier your skin is, the more resilient you will be to those unwanted symptoms mentioned above. Life is full of ups and downs, and stressors get thrown at us all day long (UV exposure, pollution, emotional stress + trauma, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, travel, hormonal fluctuations such as pregnancy or menopause, the list goes on). All of those stressors are more or less unavoidable throughout one's lifespan and all of them can negatively impact skin function. That being said, their level of impact is greatly dependent on the initial state of your skin’s health. For example, for many women, the postpartum period can be a stressful time that leads to a depleted system. However, if you go into your pregnancy with healthy functioning skin – a strong barrier layer and a flourishing microbiome – then even if you even experience extreme depletion, you will be unlikely to experience common inflammatory symptoms such as dermatitis, dryness and discomfort, redness, laxity, breakouts, and more. On the contrary, if you've been stripping, sterilizing, and otherwise not protecting or supporting a strong skin system, your chances of experiencing pathogenic overgrowth, pH imbalance, inflammation, and all sorts of symptoms are significantly increased! This theory can also be applied to getting a virus, going through a difficult emotional time, work stress, poor diet, and so on. 

     

    So there you have it. When we talk about achieving skin health, we want to not only be thoughtful about what products we apply to the outside, but to also work to support a healthy body on the inside. As we’ve seen above, fostering strong, stable skin results in a huge impact on the state of our internal health.

     

    Vetted by our team of chemists, bio-physicists, estheticians, educators, and holistic wellness practitioners, the Marie Veronique blog is a trusted resource for knowledge and advice on how to achieve optimum skin health. Learn more about our pioneering, values-driven approach to developing safe and highly effective skincare products here


      Have a question or need more information about how this applies to your specific skin concerns? You can email us for personalized advice from our estheticians, or browse our Product Recommendations.