1. Over-cleansing the skin!
Did you know over-cleansing the skin is one of the worst offenders you could be doing?! Over-cleansing the stratum corneum (outermost layer of the skin) with harsh alkaline washes or toners and/or just simply over cleansing with a really good pH balanced cleanser, can lead to skin barrier impairment which can trigger the loss of diversity of the skin’s natural microbiome. Woah! What does all this mean?
Skin is covered by a film called the acid mantle and functions as a protective oil and water barrier derived from the natural oil and water secretions of the skin, and is home to an ecosystem of bacteria known as the skin’s flora or microbiome. The acid mantle is designed to protect and defend you against the outside environment, as well it provides lubricating properties for the skin as it slows down the evaporation of water loss from the body. This, in turn, keeps your skin nice and hydrated as well as protected from environmental stressors and aggressors. Your acid mantle relies on a delicate pH balance of around 5.5 to function correctly, and when the skin barrier has been over-cleansed this can lead to an imbalance of the skin’s pH levels and trigger loss of microbial diversity between residential and transient (temporary) bacteria that come into contact throughout our day-to-day lives. Over-cleansing can cause redness, irritation, dryness and flakiness which is an indication of an impaired acid mantle and microbiome.
2. Over-exfoliating the skin!
Not only is over-cleansing considered detrimental to your skin’s barrier function, but so too is over-exfoliation! Disruption of the acid mantle, stratum corneum and upper layers of the epidermis can invoke stimulation of many cells and systems within the skin – and NOT always in a good way! Did you realise removal of the stratum corneum on a continual basis will result in activation of the innate immune system, where cells and systems are encouraged to perform in a hostile environment? Yes! This, in turn, triggers cellular inflammation and results in a poorly formed barrier defence and can age the skin prematurely – contributing to loss of structural integrity, fine lines/wrinkles, congestion, acne and pigmentation.
There is a time and a place for exfoliation, and believe it or not, when the skin barrier is functioning accordingly, our skin cells naturally turn-over and leave us without requiring the use of an exfoliator! Did you know that every person (age/site/lifestyle dependant) naturally sheds approximately 1000 skin cells per minute?! Of course, as we age, cells and systems of the skin do decline and we may need some assistance to remove those obsolete corneocytes (skin cells) that accumulate on the surface of the skin, however, always think of exfoliation as a practical “tool” to support skin barrier defence and not the “answer” to an underlying problem that is causing you to pick up the exfoliator more times than you should in the first place! Please, keep your “roof” intact and speak to a professional Practicing Corneotherapist about when and where to exfoliate as no two people have the same fingerprint, and no two people have the same skin.
3. Using incorrect products for your skin type and condition(s)
Did you know that your skin has its own “type” and “conditions?” Not many people know their skin type and unique conditions so it’s really important to speak to a professional Practicing Corneotherapist about the products you’re using on your skin as cosmetic chemistry i.e. your skin care, has the ability to cause major skin barrier impairment simply by using a cleanser that is NOT suited for your skin type. A lot of people confuse their skin type with their skin conditions, and this can be a recipe for disaster! For example, some people might assume their skin type is “oily” because they are experiencing acne breakouts, however, this is not always the case. Often in-clinic, Practicing Corneotherapists will see a really lipid-dry acne as a result of very little surface oil secretions due to the client having stripped their skin down to skeleton.
By using topical modalities aimed at treating “oil” because one has associated their acne with having oily skin, is far from the truth and can be extremely detrimental to the skin! Did you know one can have an intrinsically lipid-dry skin type with the conditions associated with having acne breakouts? Yes! The only way to truly know and understand your skin type and its unique conditions is to speak to a professional therapist about what it is your skin requires and how it can be improved with topical skin care as well as internal therapies.
4. Harsh treatment modalities!
Did you know your stratum corneum (outermost layer of skin) that we have been making reference to throughout this blog is only two-hundredths of a millimetre thick? (That’s really, really, really thin!) When performing ablative treatment modalities such as microdermabrasion, did you know you remove almost all of it?! The stratum corneum is composed of corneocytes (skin cells) that are all playing a vital role in cell-to-cell communication while providing effective physical and water barrier functions within the skin by slowing down water evaporation from the body. Your corneocytes are the first cells to have contact with the outside environment and are responsible for activating your immune system during times of stress; so, any disturbance to this barrier function will promote cellular inflammation and have a damaging knock-on effect to the viability of the skin barrier and its defence systems.
Let’s think of your stratum corneum like a “brick wall” as I explain this analogy to you…
Underlying epidermal cells undergo a process of migration and maturation where they give rise to the corneocytes that make up the stratum corneum. Corneocytes are surrounded by multiple sheets of oil molecules which encase the corneocytes in a “bricks” and “mortar” type theory and contain water molecules known as Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF), which maintain your skin’s hydration levels. Corneocytes are tethered together by protein connectors that anchor into the sides of each adjacent corneocyte for proper alignment of the skin barrier or AKA the “brick wall.” This, in turn, works to ensure that the brick wall does NOT crumble and end up with damage to its infrastructure.
I understand post a microdermabrasion treatment that your skin may feel as though it’s healthy, glowing, plump and hydrated, but the underlying truth is that you have removed important lines of skin barrier defence and exposed immature skin cells to pollution, UV radiation and oxygen long before mother nature intended. Please seek professional advice from a Practicing Corneotherapist to ensure that your skin barrier remains in-tact and/or help to rebuild your skin barrier post a course of harsh treatment modalities with products and treatments that are designed to work with the skin and not against it.
5. Not protecting your skin from UV radiation!
Did you know the sun is the biggest causer of premature ageing and skin cancer? By the time we are 18 years old, our skin has already accumulated around 80% of cellular damage induced by UV radiation exposure… crazy, right?! The catch here is, the accumulated level of cellular damage is not always seen until later in life. Always wear a broadbrimmed UPF50+ (Universal Protection Factor) sun hat, polarised sunglasses, topical antioxidants and sunscreen to protect your skin as this will support age-management (anti-ageing) and prevent the development of skin cancers and unsightly pigmentation. Please, speak to a Practicing Corneotherapist about skin barrier protection as well as going in for regular skin cancer checks with your GP and/or Dermatologist as this absolutely crucial to the health of your skin and should NOT be neglected!
Find your local Practicing Corneotherapist here, in our Clinic Finder and look forward to beautiful SKIN 💙💙💙