The fundamental principles of naturopathy include treating the whole person. This means addressing physical, mental and emotional symptoms with the belief that the body, mind, and spirit are central to good health. This approach also applies when we are caring for our skin. We must look at the interconnected story of our health and well-being to support the skin to come back to homeostasis. This follows the belief that when nurtured correctly, the body has an innate ability to heal itself. It is through acknowledging the whole person, our whole Self, that we can identify what is the cause of the symptoms that are arising and begin on the path of restoring our health. Our largest organ, our skin is a canvas for our internal state of health. While it can be easy to become frustrated when our skin health isn’t how we want it to be, the wonderful thing our body does is to show us symptoms so that we can be alerted to the disharmony that is happening within. Next time you experience a skin condition, let it spark your curiosity and ask what is this condition trying to tell me, what can I do to support my skin? As always, the key is to look at the causative roots of the symptoms. There are some common areas of our health that when dysregulated can have an impact on our skin health. This is where your inquiry should begin.
Dry & Dehydrated skin - essential fatty acids and hydration
“Dry” and “dehydrated” are often used interchangeably to describe the skin, particularly in winter when we may be consuming less water, having hot showers and using additional heating. These terms do however describe different issues. Dry skin is related to reduced oil production, whereas dehydration is related to the reduced water content of the skin. Dry skin generally feels irritated, itchy and can be flaky. Whereas dehydrated skin generally feels tight and can appear dull. Your skin can however be dry and dehydrated at the same time. When you are not producing enough oil, your skin becomes dry. The skin barrier then becomes compromised and will struggle to keep moisture locked in, causing dehydrated skin. While nourishing our skin topically is important, we must also add moisture and hydration to the skin from the inside out. For dry skin, it is important to consume essential fatty acids (EFAs). These help to seal in moisture by supporting the skin's barrier function, protect the skin from environmental stressors and play a role in the appearance of the skin. EFAs can be obtained in the diet by eating chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, tofu, tempeh and dark green leafy vegetables. You can also look at supplementation. The Bestow Beauty Plus Oil can be added to food (porridge, muesli, yogurt or a smoothie works well) and contains an array of beneficial oils - flax, safflower, hemp, coconut, evening primrose and blackcurrant seed as well as vitamin E. If your skin is dehydrated, look to increase your water intake and consume water-rich fruit and vegetables, soups, stews and broths. Adding in The Beauty Chef’s Hydration Inner Beauty Boost can also support your hydration levels.
Sensitive & Reactive skin - lifestyle, environmental and topical irritants
Sensitive skin is often associated with dry and dehydrated skin however it can also be experienced alongside combination or oil-prone skin. Sensitive skin may feel tight, be flaky and have a patchy texture, it can be prone to redness, blotchiness and is easily irritated. Sensitive skin is often genetic, however, it can also be caused by medication or health conditions. Many people believe that they have sensitive skin, however, their skin has actually become sensitised from environmental and topical irritants. Alcohol, fragrance, parabens, phthalates and other synthetic chemicals in skincare and cosmetics can irritate the skin. Over cleansing or exfoliating, the over-use of potent ingredients and even exposing the skin to overly hot water can irritate the skin. Exposure to environmental pollutants such as poor air quality, hard water and toxins within our food also plays a role. Like dry skin, sensitive skin usually has a compromised skin barrier. Once this is compromised, not only is there dry and dehydrated skin, the skin becomes vulnerable to topical irritants, making it more reactive and prone to inflammation. As you now know, it is not just what we put on our skin that influences our skin health. However, it is very important to look at how we treat our skin. The skin is incredibly porous, so what we put on our skin has a huge impact, especially as it absorbs into our bloodstream. All of our products at Tonic Room meet strict criteria of purity, efficacy and luxury. You can shop our range of skincare and cosmetics online.
Acne - stress, hormones and nutrition
Acne is often interlinked with our sex and stress hormones. It can be the result of dysregulated hormone levels (namely the balance of androgens and oestrogen), sympathetic nervous system dominance (our fight-or-flight mode) and/or impaired detoxification of these hormones. Increasing water intake, exercising, and introducing high-fibre foods such as legumes, and increasing fruit and vegetables can support detoxification and help to rebalance hormone levels. Using supplementation or herbal medicine can also help. Check in with our in-house naturopaths for more support, especially if you have other signs of hormonal imbalances such as irregular or painful menstruation. Inflammation, oxidative stress and low levels of dietary antioxidants have also been associated with acne. Oxidative stress is a process that occurs naturally through breathing and it is also linked to inflammation. A whole food diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and void of processed foods can help to counteract this. Our skin needs to be nourished through proper nutrition so it has the building blocks that allow it to function optimally. Many nutrients are indicated to support skin health, and some deficiencies can contribute to skin conditions. For example, acne that is worse before you menstruate may be an indication that you need more vitamin B6, B9 or zinc, and slow healing of the skin may be an indication that you have a zinc deficiency. Not only is it important that we receive an array of nutrients to support our skin, but our digestive system must also be functioning optimally so that we can obtain the nutrients from our food.
If your skin needs extra support, you may wish to consider our Holistic Facial. This includes a 45-minutes consultation with our qualified naturopathic skin expert and a 60-minutes therapeutic bespoke facial. Together they will provide you with a treatment protocol that helps you to gain a deeper understanding of your skin's own unique requirements and allow you to feel confident caring for your skin at home. The holistic facial and naturopathic skin consult costs $260.00 and you can book online here.
Please be aware that this information is generalised and the above recommendations may not be suitable for you. If you would like to know more or need support, please reach out to one of our naturopaths. We can support you in-store, via phone or by email.
Written by Naturopath & Medical Herbalist Natasha Lubas