On How To Take Care of Your Skin
A homeopath, advocate of herbal medicine and lover of all things natural, Maeve Smith is a font of knowledge on skincare. She’s the founder of the organic eco-friendly Natural Wisdom range, and her ‘less is more’ ethos is hugely refreshing and very much akin to our own. Here she offers Queen of Retreats readers advice for healthy glowing skin at every age.
I began taking serious care of my skin in 2007 when I was 35 years old. I had recently returned from 3 months volunteering in Ecuador and once the tan had faded I realised that I had sustained significant sun damage. I was determined to get my skin back on track. Since then I have invested a huge amount of time, energy and attention into learning the language of our skin.
Our skin is our largest organ and literally the outside of our inside. It plays a huge role in the body’s digestive, excretory and hormonal systems. So what we feed our skin really does matter. An honest reflection of our internal health, once we get to understand our skin, it will show us when we’re tired, stressed or unwell, often before we feel it ourselves. It’s never too late to start taking more care and once you do you will look healthier and fresher.
- From a holistic perspective the health of the skin is a direct reflection of the health of the whole person. If your skin isn’t healthy look at your diet. The most common deficiencies include (but are not limited to) antioxidant vitamins including Beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and essential fatty acids like omega 3 (vegan sources of which include Hemp, Chia and Flax seeds and non vegan sources are fish or krill). A good quality multi vitamin/mineral supplement and Vitamin D3 spray (from Better You or Higher Nature), combined with advice from a qualified Nutritionist is often enough to highlight areas of the diet that may be contributing to poor skin health.
- Don’t be tempted to use more products than you need. The average face is a small area and skin can only absorb so much. It needs to breathe and not be smothered. It needs to be fed real skin food and not starved.
- If you smoke or you work in a smoky or polluted environment, be sure to take a minimum of 50-250mg of Vitamin C after every cigarette or every couple of hours. Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen and elastin, the skin’s building blocks. It is believed that taking large doses of Vitamin C once daily is less efficient and less effective than taking multiple smaller doses.
- Studies show that the skin is a more effective and efficient vehicle for absorbing Vitamin C than the gut, so applying a good quality product containing a Vitamin C derivative like sodium ascorbyl phosphate to the skin (morning and night) will complement your daily vitamin supplement.
- If you are in a very hot and dry climate, it is important to stay hydrated and use nutritious cold pressed oil products to protect your skin against moisture loss. While it may sound counter intuitive, water-based products especially those containing hyaluronic acid can actually dehydrate your skin further as they attract moisture from the skin.
- I believe that the majority of acute skin issues stem from the overuse of the wrong type of product (one with an incorrect ingredients or pH for a particular skin type), while many chronic issues stem from nutritional deficiencies, digestive disturbances or food intolerances. These stubborn skin conditions can be further exacerbated by products containing synthetic chemicals marketed to treat these very same conditions.
- The vast majority of conventional, mass manufactured skincare products tend to be completely empty of real nutrition. This is especially true of bright white skincare. Whatever the packaging tells you, natural ingredients are almost always very colourful and rarely transparent.
- Vitamin C and essential fatty acids rich in antioxidants and vitamins are great ingredients for topical use, as they are absorbed effectively into the blood stream and can benefit the skin in a localised and concentrated way.
- The body thrives on nourishing oils so I love using my Natural Wisdom balms after a shower or bath because a little goes such a long way, whereas most body moisturisers aren’t so economical. Our balms are all cold blended with concentrated food-grade seed oils which, unlike many other body oils, are never diluted with refined weak carrier oils or waxes.
- Persistent skin problems are very rarely skin deep. Chronic dry skin for example may be a symptom of dehydration or perhaps even a thyroid, hormonal or digestive imbalance that can present as dryness, excessive sweating or oiliness and inflammation in the skin. In situations like this, a good quality antioxidant superfood skin balm, oil or moisturiser can help the skin recover it’s elasticity, moisture balance and integrity, when used in conjunction with advice from a qualified medical practitioner.
- In my experience the most common cause of skin eruptions is the overuse of products on the face – used too often and in too great a quantity – in the mistaken belief that more is better, while the opposite in fact is true. As a dynamic organ our skin thrives on quality not quantity. Organic antioxidant-rich superfood skincare products applied sparingly twice a day can significantly help protect, nourish and repair the skin far more effectively than other products applied in a similar way.