Suppose some of the approximately one trillion microorganisms that live on your skin are finding their living conditions objectionable, even intolerable. How would they let you, their god-like host, know about it? If you were a commensal microbe living on the skin, Staphylococcus epidermidis, for example, and you just wanted to go about your business keeping your little part of the world relatively pathogen-free, you might consider sending a message in the form of an acne breakout, a rosacea flush or an undesirable rash.
Consumers have had a considerable impact on the food industry by demanding more organic, natural, sustainable and local options. And since consumers have turned their attention to the cosmetics and skin care industry, demanding better accountability and more stringent safety standards, we’ve seen real progress when it comes to cleaning up our cosmetics and body care products, especially in the last decade.
When the goal is to prevent aging and correct existing damage, virtually all dermatologists will agree that daily retinoid use is the answer. The term "retinoid" refers to vitamin A and the various molecules derived from vitamin A—which itself is also known as retinol (ROL). This can lead to great confusion because while the official name of Vitamin A is retinol, the derivatives, called retinoids, belong to different categories. Beta carotene is a pro-vitamin A, while retinyl palmitate, unlike its successors in the conversion chain to retinoic acid, retinol and retinal aldehyde, does not convert to retinoic acid. This means you do not want to use these forms of vitamin A (unless you are looking for an oil-soluble antioxidant).
We’ve talked about the increasing presence of certain chemicals in our environment with lowering fertility rates. A 15-year study of almost 5,000 Danish men with an average age of 19 found that only 25% had "really good semen quality—that is the shape and concentration of the sperm." Though the study concentrated on PFCs (perfluorochemicals) and phthalates, found in plastics and cosmetic products, head researcher Niels Jorgensen, speaking at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual conference, also recommended abandoning sunscreens, much to the discomfiture of the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association.
There is no denying that climate change affects every aspect of our lives—even skin care. At some point in the upward trajectory of levels of heat, pollution and UV emissions, protective skin care will transition from a cosmetic option to a health necessity. And because we aren’t used to thinking of skin care in that way, it will be a non-trivial leap.
We are diehard enthusiasts for the benefits of vitamins A+C on skin health. Decades of academic research supports their efficacy and safety—administered properly, their positive effects are unmatched, especially when used together. Our skin and our systems need appropriate amounts of both of these vitamins to function, so we generally suggest a combination of topical and internal supplementation and diet.
Warmer days and brilliant bouquets are around the corner. But for allergy sufferers, springtime is no picnic. Those joyful transitions can also translate into an annual ritual of sneezing, sniffling and itchy skin. The first step toward relief is to identify your position on the rash spectrum and to remember that pollen in the air is only one factor in the skin irritation equation.