March 06, 2020 5 min read
Everyone is talking about staying healthy/ avoiding germs/ building up your immune system right now, and with good reason-- sickness and viruses are no joke. But thankfully, there is a lot of stuff we can do to support our immune system. Things like:
That’s right! Your skin is the first line of defense when it comes to coming in contact with outside “germs” (bacteria, viruses, and fungi). Building and maintaining strong skin is a way to support your immune system.
Keep your skin clean. The best way to do that is simply to use soap and water. Wash them for at least 30 seconds (not forgetting the tops of your hands and sides of your fingers.)Soaps work to take grease and oil (fats)offof things because the tails chemically grab (bind to) the fats, and then the heads grab only water molecules, allowing the grease to be washed off, dissolved into water. (read more about this here)
Keep your skin moisturized. Dry skin has breaks in its lipid barriers which lets germs in; however, moisturized skin stays flexible and whole allowing your skin to be an effective barrier. Moisturization comes from water staying in your skin. Hydration comes from your skin cells having water. For hydration, drinking water, and having a humidifier is a huge help. Natural ingredients that help with hydration are things like aloe and hydrosols. For effective moisturization, you want to pat your skin dry, and then, while it’s still damp, apply a moisturizer (something that will lock in the water). After being in water, a shower, or even a face wash, your pores are the most open, so adding an additional layer of oils will not only allow the nutrients of the oil to sink down deep but will also lock in any water still on your skin.
Keep the good bacteria alive. That’s right-- we have good bacteria that lives on our skin that helps with processing dead skin cells and fighting foreign bacteria. There is a lot we don’t know about the microbiota, the good bacteria on our skin, but here are a few things we have learned about the importance of its health (and the surprisingly complex effect it has on our immune system).
Skin is a barrier that's one of the first lines of defense against harmful microbes. Specialized immune cells within skin tissue also help to fight invading organisms. The skin's surface is home to surprisingly diverse communities of bacteria, collectively known as the skin microbiota…. “We often have a sense that the bacteria that live on our skin are harmful,” says study co-author Dr. Julie Segre of NHGRI. “But in this study we show that these bacteria can play an important role in promoting health by preventing skin infections from becoming more prolonged, pronounced and more serious.”
“Certain inflammatory disorders of the skin have been linked to a change in the nature of the bacteria that we have on the skin, but the relationship between this change and disease was not clear,” Belkaid says. “Our findings provide a mechanistic link showing how these bacteria can manipulate immune responses and inflammation.”
" Beneficialbacteria on the skin of lab mice work with the animals’ immune systems to defend against disease-causing microbes and accelerate wound healing. We explored how the microbiota was sensed by the immune system and the defining properties of such responses. Here, we show that a skin commensal can induce T cell responses in a manner that is restricted to non-classical MHC class I molecules."
There is so much cool research going on in this field! I can’t wait to learn more about the connection and interaction between the gut and the skin’s microbiota.
Now that we have looked at ways to strengthen our skin, to support our immune system, what would weaken our skin or tax our immune system)? In other words, what should we AVOID putting on our skin?
Choosing products to put on your skin can seem overwhelming-- there’s already so much to think about, reading one more label can feel exhausting. So here are two lists to help you--
Skin detoxing ingredients
Antioxidants really can help thwart the negative effects of environmental toxins by interrupting the free radical damage they cause when used as a part of your daily routine.
And don’t forget to sweat- Help your body get rid of toxins on your skin by working up a sweat. Either through exercise or a shower or bath.
Natural antibacterial ingredients
Skin strengthening ingredients
*some oils are thicker than others, [ check outthis comedogenic rating of oils article for more information ] so be mindful of what oils you put on your face
Other things to help keep your body functioning with its parasympathetic nervous system (to keep detox going on in your body) and to keep stress down:
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