Like all living things our skin, hair and nails, require nourishment to stay healthy and to carry out repair when damaged. A wide range of nutrients is needed including essential fatty acids.
As long ago as the 1930s it was known that essential fatty acids (EFAs) were vital for healthy skin, hair and nails.As essential structural components of cell walls they ensure the flexibility of cells, this flexibility gives our skin its smoothness and suppleness. EFAs (Vit F) also prevent water loss from the skin. As water is lost the skin becomes dry, rough and loses its firmness.
Insufficient intake of essential fatty acids (which occurs when we reduce our fat intake) results in loss of skin elasticity and dryness and increases our susceptibility to premature ageing.
The first barrier you have to overcome is the FAT THING! From teenage years, right through to maturity, a good portion of women "watch what they eat".
This generally means instead of being selective of the fats they cut out everything including our precious EFAs.
In that pursuit of a trim figure, they have been unknowingly creating a bigger monster for later years, namely an ageing skin!
It is now understood that the skin is the last organ these essential fats reach - the body's vital organs consume them first, and any lack of EFA's means the skin often gets no share of these valuable nutrients.
Unfortunately no one told us about the importance of Essential Fatty Acids for our skin, hair, wound healing, immunity to name but a few.
In fact, every important biological function in our bodies is governed by EFAs.
Essential Fatty Acids help to:
Breakdown saturated fats.
Normalise skin lipids.
Balance the acid mantle.
Assist in oxygen transfer.
Helps the immune system.
Increases the metabolic rate.
Assist in the formation of ceramides.
The following are some of the vital functions of EFA's in relation to the skin.
Normalising Lipids (Oil)
The top layer of the skin (stratum corneum) is made up of layer of keratinised cells bound by both lipids (oil) and water (bilayers). Skins lacking in lipids appear dull, coarse and unpliable. In severe cases, we see evidence of conditions such as eczema and dermatitis, with scaling and cracking. Essential fatty acids from within are a vita component on normalising these epidermal lipids.
We are at last realising the importance of the epidermic lipids for the health of the skin and body as far as preventing dehydration, by acting as a barrier to lock in moisture. Topically applied it is believed that EFAs may be metabolised by the skin and the resulting free fatty acids incorporated into the lipids making up the barrier, decrease the evaporation of water from the skin.
Balances the Acid Mantle
Protection is the primary function of the skin. The acid mantle, which has a high content of free fatty acids, is the first major deterrent we have for penetration of unwanted compounds. Thus, here again we see the importance of external and internal application of EFAs.
Assists Oxygen Transfer
EFAs encourage the oxygen transport through the body, across cell membranes to assist with the oxidation of foods for energy.
Vital for the proper functioning and formation of Ceramides
Ceramides represent a major percentage of the stratum corneum lipids, and are thus important for the maintenance of water in the skin. The essential fatty acids Linoleic Acid has been found to be linked to the formation of ceramides and therefore the presence of EFAs is vital for the ceramides found in the bilayers of the stratum corneum.
Increases the metabolic rate
An increased metabolic rate burns for saturated fat into carbon dioxide, water and energy.
Helps our immune system
To resist and fight infection and to prevent allergies.
Along with skin ageing comes joint stiffness and pain, perhaps the result of earlier injuries or just years of wear and tear.
Improved energy levels and a relief of skin dryness are the most common benefits gained from taking Essential Fatty Acids. Of particular importance during and after menopause is the role of EFAs in increasing calcium absorption from the diet. This enhances calcium levels in the body and helps maintain strong bones.
So where do we find these treasures?
Essential Fatty Acids come largely from vegetables, nuts, seeds and cold water fish. There are different types of essential fatty acids but the two important families are called omega 6 and omega 3.
Omega 6. Head of the omega 6 family is linoleic acid. Good sources are oils from safflower, sunflower, sesame and corn. Linoleic acids is converted in the body to gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is also in abundance In human breast milk (deficiency of GLA may be linked to babies suffering from skin problems such as cradle cap).
Omega 3. The omega 3 family is alpha linolenic acid, found particularly in flax seed (linseed) oil, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. This converts in the body to
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are found in cold water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines.
We need two to three servings of any of these fish every week plus a good supply of nuts, seeds and their oils, so it is not surprising many of us are deficient in our intake.
So what should we eat?
To ensure you obtain sufficient EFAs in your diets your should include the following foods:
Fish: Two to three servings of fresh salmon, mackerel (preferably not smoked), herring and sardines per week.
Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, and pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, one to two tablespoons per day. Mix and store in the fridge, then sprinkle over salad or grind them up and have with yoghurt or cereal.
Oils: Flax, sunflower, corn, evening primrose and starflower oils. One to two tablespoons of flax seed oil daily initially.
Use oils on salads or vegetables but, for cooking, only use olive oil as the others become unstable when subjected to heat.
Vegetables: Green leafy vegetable, particularly spinach and cabbage. Aim to have five different types each day, including a good proportion of dark-green, leafy ones.
Experts tells us the skin is the last organ these essential fats reach the body uses them up first for vital internal organs which is why each of us should aim to have a soft, velvety skin.
If we do not, it is a sign we need more EFAs in our diet.
In addition, if we do, we can feel reassured we are properly oiled on the inside too.
Note: The Heart Foundation has an excellent source of reading material about foods and the Vitamins and Minerals they supply.
2001 Virtual Beauty Corporation
Having completed the last of my seminars for the 2006 year, I now have time to reflect on all of the comparisons of the skins I have seen during my global travels. Suffice it to say, I found plenty of evidence of how genetics and environment play a huge role in the way "genetically" northern hemisphere skins respond in both their own environment and when relocated to other parts of the world, and how important it is to be aware of this genetic location history during the consultation process.
It was in Ireland that I first noticed huge differences between New Zealand, Australian and South African skins and the rest of the world. The first major observations were made under black light, and then using my C&K SD202 digital diagnostic device. This device allowed me to determine oil/water/melanin and erythema levels and depth of damage.
On this tour, the Irish skin was the most beautiful showing a striking lack of dermal deterioration.
The structural integrity of the Irish skin was also strong and with greater density, and the lack of vascular damage and pigmented lesions were also evident.
These observations were noticeable across all ages with a similar work life style: they were all beauty therapists/aestheticians.
I immediately thought of the New Zealand and Australian population originally founded on the Irish and Scot immigrants (as was many parts of South Africa) and this prompted me to ask myself why was it that although we have the same genetic heritage of the Irish, our southern hemisphere skins didnt show the same strength.
In Germany, I began to record the highest lipid (oil) levels, even among age groups as high as the mid 50s. This was most unusual, as naturally high lipid levels are generally only observed in teenagers in other parts of the world.
It is apparent that the New Zealand, Australian and South African skins seem to be ageing the fastest, with extensive loss of structural integrity, thin skin density (vascular damage) and almost always zero lipid levels being the three most frequently observed and measured conditions.
A higher frequency of asthma, eczema and dermatitis was also recorded during the consultations conducted.
Skins can respond very differently when subject to environments different than their genetically "native" location
To put these observations into some perspective and to rationalize them made me think of many things, but genetics, nutrition and environment were the three points that seem to make the most sense and deserved more thought.
Genetic history as part of the consultation
Genetics is a subject that I have always found most interesting, and in recent years, aspects of it has been included as part of the Pastiche Skin Diagnostic Methodology. By including this parameter, skin treatment therapists and practitioners are able to evaluate Skin Risk Assessment.
This assessment includes establishing burn time, melanogenic dose and sun burn history as well as gathering data about client heritage and makes the simple determination of the client genetic heritage re the red head gene and the darker skin gene.
This type of consultation has historically been thin to say the least, and one hour is barely long enough to do the job properly. The imminent future development of skin diagnostic devices that will help to determine how much pheomelanin pigment (red) is present in individual skins will make it much easier to assess potential for skin cancer, irrespective of the colour of the skin.
Until then, a greater understanding of skin and genetics will need to be made. For example; where did the Irish come from, and what was their country of origin? So many questions run through my mind demanding to be answered, but they have to be put aside for another time.
Let us stay with what we know has happened over the last 300 years or so and keep it relevant to premature ageing of skins of our clients in New Zealand, Australian and South Africa.
I often teach the paradigm that we are born with a skin that resembles something between silk or calico, and that skin is like a piece of fabric, with a weave, nap and bias.
The silk represents the thinner and more fragile skins, while the calico represents the denser, less opaque skins.
This analogy enables the therapist to diagnose, choose modality and treat skin more successfully.
The anaolgy between silk and calico can be quite useful when describing the structure of different skins
The fibroblast cell is genetically coded to produce a finer or denser collagen fibril, and this will ultimately reflect in the outward appearance of skin. This density of this collagen fibril also contributes to the premature ageing factor.
Silk is a fabric that has a fine thread with great strength and is able to be woven into a diaphanous and sheer fabric, and that is were the comparison ends. The fine skin, which is transparent and fine textured like silk, does not have the strength of its comparative thread silk. These skins are difficult to repair without leaving trace and scar or mark easily. Conversely, the denser the collagen fibril, the stronger it will be, with the predisposition to scarring, marking and damage reduced.
The fineness and fragility of the collagen fibril means a greater predisposition to early ageing when its environment is harsh with high exposure to UVR and nutritional requirements of the fibroblast are not met.
With the observation of the fine textured and slower ageing (Example: Irish) skin cocooned within its home Northern Hemisphere environment of long winters and shorter summers, it really reinforced the reverse effects of the same skin in the New Zealand, Australian and South African environments.
The long harsh summers, often with extremes of low or high humidity, plus warmer shorter winters combined with an outdoor mindset and sporting lifestyle will contribute to the premature ageing of the genetically northern hemisphere originating skins observed in these countries.
In addition, because many people where often unprotected from the elements as children, it will mean tissue damage (of the collagen fibril) and final cell damage occurs earlier than our Irish descendants in their native environment. (It is only recently that environmental protection has become commonplace for children in worldwide)
Outdoor lifestyles in non-native environments require more envionmental defense measures
Nothing new there you say; however how laterally do you think about these aspects during the skin analysis? Have you asked the question of sunburn history? Was the client born in New Zealand, Australia or South Africa, or did they emigrate? And at what age did this happen? Where did they spend their childhood years? Was that time spent mostly indoors, or outdoors? Was it spent nutritionally sound? Do they have any red head relatives in their genetic pool?
All these questions are relevant and provide important information.
Another marked contrast I found during my travels was regarding total skin lipid levels of the German skin compared to New Zealand, Australian and South African skins.
What I found was that irrespective of age, the German skins routinely measured higher surface lipid levels, and further observation of these excellent sebaceous secretions under black light.
This phenomenon was unusual to say the least because as we age, the sebaceous secretion usually declines in productivity and increases in viscosity.
When examining the skins of a particular country or culture, I always try to evaluate the nutritional (skin wise) well-being of a country by asking questions like: What quantity of oily fish is routinely eaten and what levels of oils like olive oil are consumed or used in cooking on a daily basis?
Quality of diet can be directly related to skin health
Of course with these questions, Im trying to evaluate the Omega 3 and 6 intakes. On my initial enquiry there didnt seem to be any great difference to other countries, however over the course of a week and by reading the dietary consultation of seminar attendees, I noticed there was a marked difference. German women generally eat healthily, and they eat more good foods in larger quantities. Their breakfast is always high protein.
This dietmust make a difference. We know we are what we eat (who said that?). The skin will reflect our nutritional well being in a balanced acid mantle, proper oil flows and rapid cellular repair.
The German skins I observed reflected health in all three areas, however there was unfortunately a high incidence of vascular damage and pigmented lesions.
This is due perhaps to the typical German women being naturalists at heart, and enjoying the sun whenever they can. This may be because of the long harsh winters and the nations love and need to be outside after months of confinement over winter.
This lifestyle is reflected in the many pigmented anomalies observed, but what has saved this nation from a high incidence of skin cancer? The answer is a marked lack of the red head gene.
A typical result of a genetically northern hemisphere skin prematurely aged by a life in the southern hemisphere
Very few of the attendees at my German seminars had a genetic history of read head relatives.
They generally exhibited long burn times and a higher melanogenic dose, and consequently many had not used sun protection products until later in life.
These observations all help to give you a bigger picture of a variety of skins and how genetic background, environment, diet and lifestyle play a role in how they respond to various situations and stimuli. The more we know about the physiological make-up of our clients skin the better we will be equipped to find effective treatment solutions.
May this article give you food for thought and encourage you to extend the consultation process into the genetic, nutritional and environmental history of your client.
2006 Virtual Beauty Corporation
Sunless UV Free tanning comes of age
Sunless or UV free tanning has enjoyed amazing growth all over the world in the last few years, and it is not too difficult to understand why.
For many salons, UV free tanning is providing a great new service to existing clients looking to enhance their traditional tanning sessions, however the biggest potential growth of use lies with clients who either cannot, or choose not to acquire a traditional UV tan.
Because UV free tanning is becoming so popular, business‑savvy beauty salon owners who understand that they need to present themselves as total sun care and skincare specialists, are looking to invest in a tanning booth so they are able to fulfil every tanning related need of their clients.
Salon owners and operators in the US, Europe and Australia offering both UV and UV free tanning services report that their businesses don't suffer the ups and downs of the tanning off‑season, and many report that incorporating UV free into their services has increased traditional UV tanning sessions.
Why is UV free tanning so popular?
UV free tanning delivers immediate gratification because it provides a cosmetic, tanned look within a few hours of application; some even faster if the solution contains a bronzer. This is perfect for social events and preparation for summer holidays etc.
With the more publicised dangers of UV exposure in this part of the world, more people with sun sensitive skin are choosing not to use sunshine or UV tanning devices, but still desire the healthy‑looking glow of a golden tan. Salons that recognise this can cater for their clients while they boost their profits.
Clients also use UV free products for a number of reasons including a quick fix when they are pressed for time, a tanning booster between traditional UV sessions, to touch up delicate or hard‑to areas such as faces, hands and feet, and to even out any pressure points, tan lines or uneven spots on the body.
Spray-on tanning comes of age
Emerging onto the scene a few years ago, spray‑on tanning units once were considered unthinkable to salon owners due to the type of technology then employed that often gave less than satisfactory results and the clean-up after the application. However, today's systems feature sophisticated designs and advanced technology that provide an even, all‑over tan to customers and offer salons that provide tanning services a more stable form of revenue that ultimately will increase traffic and profits.
With todays technology, customers enjoy the privacy of the spray‑on booths as well as the nice, even results, while salon owners welcome the booths automated systems that don't consume employees' time with cleaning and setup.
UV free systems
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most effective UV free tanning products contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient. DHA is a colorless chemical (it is derived from glycerin) that interacts with the amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown color change. Since these dead skin cells are constantly being shed, the color change produced by DHA usually lasts about five to seven days.
DHA is not absorbed through the skin into the body and it has no known toxicity. DHA was first discovered by the Germans in the late 1920's when DHA spilled on the skin produced a brown color. DHA has been listed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1973, and has been used in cosmetic preparations for almost 30 years.
While tanning booth systems are a popular choice for many salons due to the clients privacy, low staff time involvement, cleanliness, overspray and ventilation issues, there is still an popular demand for airbrush sunless tanning systems.
These units are relatively inexpensive compared to their spray booth counterparts, and provide salons with portable compressor units and UV free solutions that allow them to get up and running immediately.
The airbrush system appeals particularly to customers who desire a quick fix for their face or uneven tan lines.
While full body airbrushing does not have the same privacy factor as the spray-on booths due to the operator being present, they usually have a private room or designated area in the salon reserved for this service.
Huge market growth
Estimated figures from the US reveal that the sunless segment of the tanning market is growing at a phenomenal rate. Since 1999, the number of stand-up UV free units placed in professional tanning salons has grown about 200 percent.
Some salon operators state that use of traditional tanning units increased as much as 30 percent after they introduced a spray on UV free booth. A lot of tanners find that the brown they get from UV tanning is beautifully complemented by the golden brown they can get from a UV free tanning system.
By offering UV free tanning solutions, salons can satisfy yet another group of potential customers who may never tan indoors.
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