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Take Care of your Skin with Nutricosmetics

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

In this new post, I will talk about the skin, how to take care of it through cosmetics, diet and micro-nutrition.

Skin is the first barrier against external aggression and during the summer, between sun, sand, and heat (cocktails as well 😉), it is very poorly conducted!

You should be aware that 47.9% of the European population over the age of 18 declares at least one skin infection during the year and, further each year, the skin absorb an average of 2 kg of chemicals 😨. So here's a bit of physiology and some micro-nutritional tips to help you protect it.


Skin Physiology


To have beautiful skin, you must first respect some parameters of skin physiology.


Skin PH

It must be between 5.5 and 5.6. It therefore has an acid PH! However, most cosmetic products, shower gel, creams, soaps... display a "neutral PH", that means equal to 7. further, respecting the PH is essential to balance the two other important physiological parameters for a beautiful skin : skin flora (or microbiota) and micro-lipid film.


Skin Flora

Like the intestine, the skin has its own microbiota which is made up of more than 1000 billion micro-organisms. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and even parasites which, in balance, constitute a real protective army against external aggressions. This microbiota is unique to everyone, and varies according to age, sex, pH, temperature and humidity. Like the gut microbiota, the state of the person's immune system highly influences the skin microbiota. And obviously, all products (cosmetic, household or other) applied to the skin will influence its health. Its composition in terms of diversity also changes according to the places of the body. This microbiota is closely related to the micro-lipid film.


Skin microlipidic film

It is made up of sweat and sebum. Its composition and balance are influenced by the same parameters as the skin microbiota. Its role is to fight against external aggressions while allowing the presence of microorganisms of the microbiota. It also regulates the hydration of the skin and helps maintain its acid PH.


Skin Chronobiology


This is another important parameter to respect.


Morning

The skin wakes up and needs hydration. It is cleaned to remove the impurities of the night and a moisturizing serum is applied (with an aqueous phase more important than the fatty phase). At 11 a.m., the skin is quite beautiful and awake (Notice to Instagrammers: it's time for selfies 😜).


Midday

This is the time when the skin secretes the most sebum. So do not panic if the skin shines a little, and apply an anti-pollution lotion.

In the evening:

At night:


Evening

cleanse the skin with a tonic lotion to gently eliminate the waste accumulated during the day and rebalance the PH.


Night

this is when the skin regenerates, so apply a cream with enzymes and other organic compounds that promote cell renewal.


But obviously, like us, the skin ages despite everything! This is called skin aging: the skin cells are less efficient and therefore the regeneration, repair and skin defense systems too. The skin is drier, duller, loses elasticity and wrinkles appear.


Skin Aging


Several molecular mechanisms lead to skin aging. The good news is that something can be done to slow down this natural process.


Repeated external aggression such as stress, poor diet, pollution, toxins (endocrine disruptors, household products, cosmetics, etc.) are responsible for the increase in oxidative stress. This leads to inflammation, DNA damage, telomere shortening, micro-RNA damage and the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).






DNA damage

It leads to the formation of non-functional, toxic cells or simply cell death.


Telomere shortening

It causes damage to the DNA of the cell. Telomeres form the terminal part of the DNA strands of chromosomes and their role is to ensure the conservation of genetic material. Their shortening no longer allows them to fulfill this role and will lead to an alteration of the genetic material of the cell which ages prematurely and dies.


Micro-RNA

They are organisms that are responsible, among other things, for regulating the expression of collagen and elastin. It is therefore easy to understand that their alteration will necessarily have an impact on the skin.


AGEs

They are formed by adding a sugar or a lipid to a protein through the Maillard chemical reaction. Excess blood sugar and how food is cooked are two of the main factors leading to this reaction. An excess of AGEs promotes deposits in the arteries (which can then become clogged = atherosclerosis), diabetes, and kidney disease. So beware of high temperature cooking, barbecue, grill and frying! To give you an example, the dark coloring of your meat on the barbecue is certainly appetizing, but it is 100% Maillard reaction!


Skin and Stress


Stress is a major factor in skin disturbances through two main mechanisms.


First, because in times of stress, we often tend to take refuge in “comfort food”, generally fatty and sweet. This kind of diet will disrupt the intestinal microbiota (=dysbiosis) leading to an insidious inflammation called chronic low-grade inflammation. It is a chronic inflammation that affects the whole body, including the skin. Skin inflammation is seen in particular by excessive sebum production.



Second, by disruption of the hypotalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, in other words the circuit between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal glands. This axis is responsible for the secretion of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, GABA and acetylcholine) in response to acute stress, and cortisol when stress becomes chronic. Some neurotransmitters are born and/or become active in the intestine under the influence of the microbiota. So I emphasize it once again: the health of the gut microbiota is very important, even to have beautiful skin! These neurotransmitters have many functions, including a cutaneous action (vascularization, sweat and sebaceous secretions, production of melanin, hair health, healing, etc.). And that highlights the gut-brain-skin axis. Because yes, we are talking more and more about the gut-brain axis, but it extends to the skin too! Not so surprising when you know that skin, intestine and brain are part of the same embryonic tissue.


Skin and Sun


The sun's rays consist of various wavelengths, including the famous UVA and UVB.



UVA rays penetrate the deep layers of the skin and cause the formation of free radicals (compounds that promote oxidative stress) which attack the DNA of the cell. As a result, either the cell dies or it becomes dysfunctional.

UVB rays only reach the superficial layers of the skin. They enter the cell itself and cause the cell to die or mutate. Cellular mutations might cause cancer.




Fortunately, the body has natural protective barriers:

- The melanocyte cells responsible for melanin secretion: the higher your melanin level, the darker your skin, and the better your protection against the sun's rays.

- Anti-oxidants such as vitamin E and C, β-carotene, lycopene, etc. which mainly protect against UVA rays.


How to protect your skin from aging, diseases and sun


1. Skin and external aggressions

Obviously, my first advice will be to protect it from external aggressions. The worst enemies of the skin are:


Stress: which increases oxidative stress, cortisol levels, disrupts the microbiota and the secretion of neurotransmitters, leading to an inflammatory state.


Cigarettes and alcohol: I don't think I need to explain to you why... The good news is that quitting smoking and/or alcohol can reverse the trend and delay the aging of the skin of the face (scientifically proven, so up to you 😉).


Bad fats or imbalance of intake: an insufficient intake of fat or an imbalance of lipid metabolism (such as cholesterol) can be responsible for skin disorders or even serious illnesses.


Sugar and high temperature cooking for the Maillard reaction and the formation of AGEs that this generates.


Sleep: short nights and/or poor quality sleep hinder cell regeneration and repair.


2. Skin and cosmetic, household and other products

• Use products adapted to the PH of your skin. Ideally, it should be around 5.5-5.6 and in any case, it should never exceed 7. Products with the claim "neutral PH" means that they have a PH equal to 7 and therefore does not respect the PH of the skin.


• Avoid excessive showering and hand washing as well as the abuse of antiseptic products.


• Hydrate the skin with emollients (products that soften the skin) that promote the diversity of skin microbiota such as shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, and cocoa butter. Avoid applying high-fat creams before going to play sports or any other activity that makes you sweat. Indeed, creams that are too rich in fat clog the pores and prevent perspiration from escaping. However, perspiration is one of the body's means of evacuating toxins.


• Dry the skin gently by patting it rather than rubbing it. Make sure to dry the areas of skin folds that retain moisture.


• Choose the most natural cosmetic and household products possible, of biological origin (even if this does not guarantee that the product does not contain toxic substances).


• Respect the chronobiology of the skin.


• Aluminum, pesticides, endocrine disruptors and electromagnetic fields disrupt the hypothalomo-pituitary-adrenal axis and therefore the production of neurotransmitters and cortisol.


3. Skin and Sun

Difficult to advise against exposure to the sun. First, because it allows the synthesis of vitamin D, and second, because we all want beautiful tanned skin for the summer. It is enough to expose yourself to the sun in a reasoned way by respecting a few rules.


• Exposure to the sun must be done gradually, avoiding the hours when the sun is at its peak (between 12.00 and 16.00). Beware of sand and water which greatly increase the reflection of the rays from your skin (like snow for those who have planned to go to the North Pole for their summer vacation 🙄). Finally, avoid prolonged exposure, limiting yourself to 1 hour a day.


• Choose sun protection that protects against UVA and UVB rays. To be applied after each swim and every two hours, even if your product has the marketing claim “water resistant”. Also beware of the claim (always marketing) "total screen" because total protection does not exist 😂! The maximum is 50+. You should know that the protection index is calculated for an application of 2 mg of cream per cm2 of skin... So unless you empty the tube of sunscreen at each exposure, there is little chance of actually reaching the protection index indicated… So favor very high indexes (50 and 50+).


• Finally, certain drugs and perfumes are photo-sensitizing and can cause brown spots which are witnesses to the oxidation of cells.


4. Skin and Food

As you will have understood, oxidative stress and inflammation are the main causes of aging and skin problems. By following a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, one can actually have an impact on skin cell damage and repair.


• Fruits and vegetables in sufficient quantity, colored and in season (red fruits, fruits rich in vitamin C, green vegetables +++) for vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.


• Semi-complete cereals (for those who have a high purine or uric acid level) or complete.

• Legumes twice a week minimum.


• Anti-inflammatory spices: turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, clove.


• Oils rich in omega 3 (flax, rapeseed, walnuts, camelina), olive oil and small fatty fish.


• Fair protein consumption: 0.8 to 1 g of protein per kg of body weight for cell repair and regeneration. I remind you that excess protein causes kidney overload and acidifies the metabolism which then becomes a breeding ground for osteoporosis (among others).


• Beware of excess salt or strictly vegetarian or vegan diets which have shown adverse effects on the skin.


• Drink enough water. Studies show that a hydration of 2 liters per day has an effect on the hydration of the deep skin. I'm a little more skeptical about this. First, because it is necessary to take into account the climate and the physical activity which make us sweat more or less. Second, water quality is important. Indeed, a water very loaded with dry residues will tend to give more work to the kidneys…


5. Skin and Gut microbiota

Due to the existence of the gut-brain-skin axis, it is obvious that the balance of the intestinal microbiota is essential.


• Increase the consumption of fiber (not ground) which increases the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFA).


• SCFAs are found in butter and dairy products. So stop consuming fat free yoghurts!


• Eat whole grains and legume cooled (pasta salad, rice, lentils, etc.): the structure of the starch changes as it cools and promotes the formation of SCFAs.


• Regularly eat leeks, asparagus, artichokes, garlic, psyllium and Jerusalem artichokes which contain FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) and feed bacteria that produce butyrate (one of the SCFAs).


• Spices: prefer turmeric, ginger, parsley, cinnamon, garlic and onion.


• Streptoccus salivarius is an intestinal bacteria beneficial to skin health which can be provided by a probiotic supplement. The latter must also contain bifidobacterium and lactobacillus.


6. Skin and Micro-nutrition


First of all, you have to take care of your mitochondria which are the basis of metabolism (see post of February 16, 2023 “mitochondria, these small organisms at the heart of the functioning of our cells”). Hence cosmetic products enriched with CoQ10: it limits cell aging and improves skin firmness.


Then, fight against oxidation with a sufficient intake of antioxidants: vitamin A, C, and E, and polyphenols. Unfortunately, the cosmetic application of polyphenols is still underdeveloped.

Here is a list of polyphenols and other antioxidants that have shown a positive effect on skin protection and aging:


• β-carotene found in orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin…

• Lycopene which gives the red color to fruits and vegetables: tomatoes, blood oranges, grapefruit, watermelon…

• Asthaxanthin and lipoic acid, two powerful antioxidants

• Phycocyanin found in spirulina

• ECGC in green tea

• Curcumin, active molecule of turmeric


Finally, it is necessary to ensure a good supply of anti-inflammatory minerals:

• Zinc

• CoQ10 for the proper functioning of mitochondria

• A balanced rate of iron and copper

• Iodine and selenium for proper thyroid function

• Vitamin A, D, C and E

• B (B3,B5, B8,B12)

• A good omega 3/omega 6 balance.


Zinc and omega 3, in addition to their anti-inflammatory action, have an action on tissue regeneration. Borage oil (omega 6) is moisturizing and anti-inflammatory. Finally, hydroxytyrosol (found in olive oil and more specifically olive leaf) is a powerful anti-inflammatory and promotes the rebalancing of the intestinal microbiota. So don't neglect the fat intake: you just have to choose the right ones 😉.


Some studies mention the interest of certain polysaccharides from seaweed, some mushrooms (agaric) and plants (Lycium). They would have a beneficial effect on immune function, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties, and antioxidant power.


And finally, a quick word on the current cosmetic trend: the famous collagen! Collagen peptides have anti-inflammatory (cytokine regulation), antioxidant properties, promote the synthesis of collagen and hyaluronic acid. The result is hydrated, elastic skin and a luminous complexion! Choose marine collagen powder coupled with vitamin C for maximum efficiency.


Taking food supplements is never trivial, and must be guided by a health professional.

 

For personalized advice and adapted supplementation, make an appointment.


 

Sources :




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