Images of pure and healing water reflect the impression
of a fresh and smooth young skin. The young grape gradually turning into a
dried raisin arouses fearful pictures of a past glory.
But what does this mean?
Where is the water, how does it get there and do we have actually have a
shortage of water in our skin? The reality is less frightening, but more
complex than previously thought. Our body consists of living cells bathing in fluid.
On average we are 70% water. The outside world, however, consists largely of
air. Without a solid shell, we would soon dry out and shrivel. Therefore,
nature has provided us with a skin that buffers the sharp transition from a wet
inner layer to a dry outer layer. Naturally, our inner water resources evaporate
through the skin, even with a well-functioning skin barrier. A concept that we
call Trans Epidermal Water Loss. By taking in one or two litres of fluid a day,
we can compensate for this loss easily. On a warm day, the sweat glands get in
action to dissipate the heat and as a consequence we lose extra fluid from the
deeper layers. To drink even more is the message.
The skin is a
partially-permeable film that seeks to reduce this evaporation to a minimum.
This film is composed of several layers of skin cells filled with
"water-binding proteins" and that stick together with oils. This
structure is often compared to a brick wall where the bricks (the cells) are
stuck together by the mortar (the oil). This close-knit structure provides a
good water reserve in the depth and adequate moisture to the surface. A case of
a deficiency in protein or oils, water will leave the skin too quickly and this
creates a feeling of dry skin.
cells are alive in the depths where they divide regularly to create new cells. The
older cells migrate to the surface where they eventually die and transform into
fine dry flakes. In a healthy skin a proper division rhythm or cycle there is
just enough flakes to ensure the skin's natural renewal. Too many flakes gives
the impression of a poor, dull or dry skin.
means as much as keeping a good level of water content in the skin while maintaining the deep water
reserves of the body by avoiding too rapid evaporation. Many tasks for a single
simply call "to hydrate" requires essentially three different operations
that have nothing to do with adding water to the skin. We have indeed enough
water in the depth. Even more, we consist of water! Our task is to properly
manage these reserves.
The first act
is to remove the excess dead and dry skin flakes by regular and gentle
exfoliation (scrubbing the skin with an exfoliating cream is a ritual in itself
and will be discussed extensively in a later article). This ensures not only a
smooth surface free of loose skin flakes, but stimulates also the cells to a
healthy generation of young cells from the depth. This normalizes the division
cycle and avoids unnecessary accumulation of dead cell layers.
act is to grease the skin with "good oils" from the outside or the inside
by eating good oils such as avocado or nuts. Since cholesterol is one of the
main fats of our skin, people suffering
from high cholesterol receiving cholesterol reducing medication, often tend to
have a dry skin. At cold temperatures, the oils in our skin "harden"
and we can suffer from an unpleasant dryness.
measure is to add "water binding proteins" (NMF also called Natural
Moistening Factors) to our skin cells. This can easily be achieved by using
creams that contain NMF’s or from the inside by eating proteins like fish.
Salmon and mackerel are ideal because they contain both good fats and good
already understood, we don’t bring moisture in the skin, but we ensure that the
moisture from the depths can slowly and appropriately evaporate. During that
process, all elements of the skin are bathing in water in a gradient ranging
from much water in depth to little water at the surface.
the application of water on the skin (swimming, bathing and washing) has the
opposite effect. The fats on the skin that function as an insulating film,
disappear, leaving the skin to dry out.
balance between these three factors - flakes, oils, proteins - is the key to a
well hydrated skin. Unfortunately this is not an easy task.
Which of these three factors is dominating can be determined during a brief but
professional skin analysis. The risk is great indeed that the skin receives an
abundance of one element and falls off balance, with all its consequences
(acne, irritations, etc.).
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