Dehydration is the first step in all skin conditions. Dehydration is a lack of water.
When the skin is dehydrated, SCCE’s (Stratum Corneum Chymotryptic Enzymes) become inactive (stop working). This means that the skins natural desquamation process ceases, resulting in a build-up of dead cells.
Cell build-up can make the skin feel rough, become blocked (acne or ingrown hairs) and worsen the appearance of pigmentation.
Cellular communication fails when the skin is dehydrated. This means our sebaceous glands can’t adapt sebum production to the current skin condition and the skin may become oily or dry.
Product absorption is effected by hydration levels. Hydrated skin will absorb what is applied to it much more effectively than dehydrated skin.
Dehydrated cells take on an upwards curved shape as they dry out. This means the skins physical barrier function is impaired and, as a result the skin is more open to invasion.
Dehydrated skin is much more prone to sensitivity
The water we drink amounts for around 13% of the hydration in the skin. The main cause of Dehydration in the skin is a weakened Acid Mantle. The Acid Mantle has 3 main roles:
- Preventing TEWL (Trans Epidermal Water Loss) – Water escaping/evaporating from the deeper layers of skin.
- Slowing down the absorption of active ingredients.
- Provides a pH balance (4.5-6.5 pH) which keeps out bacteria and pathogens.
If a skin has an impaired Acid Mantle:
- We see TEWL occurring
- Higher chance of infection due to the higher permeability of the Stratum Corneum.
- Higher instance of sensitivity and inflammation.
- 97% of Australians have dehydrated skin
We need a strong Cell Membrane to produce a strong Acid Mantle.
Healthy lipids within the diet will increase the bodys ability to create strong cell membranes which in turn produces a strong Acid Mantle.
In general, Australians are very deficient in Essential Fatty Acids. This has a huge and negative effect on the skin.
To repair or maintain the Acid Mantle, we must avoid using stripping ingredients on the skin as these will destroy the delicate balance of the Acid Mantle.
A helpful question to ask when trying to find out if a client is currently using any stripping ingredients is “How does your skin feel after… cleansing, toning etc?” If they tell you it feels dry, tight, flakey etc, chances are they are using ingredients that are stripping the oils from their skin.
Supplementing with Essential Fatty Acids will support Cell Membrane development and hence Acid Mantle creation and maintenance.
Dosage of Essential Fatty Acids will depend on the severity of the skin condition: Dehydrated skin – no other issues – 3000mg EFA per day (maintenance dose). Dry, Irritated, Inflamed or a few breakouts – 6000mg EFA per day.
Flaky, Rosacea or Acne – 8 – 10,000mg EFA per day.
Exfoliation: As the SCCE’s are inactive in a dehydrated skin, it is important to take over this function to avoid excess dead cells building up in the Stratum Corneum.
As the skin isn’t strong enough for strong acids at this stage (they will penetrate too quickly as there is no barrier and cause irritation), the best methods for exfoliation are enzymes and physical exfoliants as they work on the surface of the skin.
Infusion modalities such as Iontophoresis, Sonophoresis, Direct Infusion are all great for improving the hydration levels in the deeper layers of tissue.