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Skin Book Inflammation

Written by Pia Kynoch | Verve Beauty Therapy on June 15th, 2016.      0 comments

The lifelong journey to your healthiest skin is travelled one step at a time. By being thoughtful with your choices you can cleverly adjust for the many confounding factors, unexpected turns of events and lifestyle circumstances that all impact your skin health. Where you live, how you live, what you ingest and all the things that come into contact with your skin will definitely change the way you age! Despite the many scientific advances in biology and genetics, the mysteries of ageing that control our lifespan – and the way we look - are still yet to be completely unravelled.

What exactly is ageing? A complex collaboration involving epidemiology, psychology and cell biology, there is no single theory that satisfactorily explains all aspects of ageing. A host of molecular, cellular, structural and functional alterations are affecting tissues and organs, occurring at the same time psychosocial factors exert their influence. Endogenous (or intrinsic/internal) ageing factors include our genetics, hormone levels and all our metabolic processes. Exogenous (or extrinsic/external) factors include UV light exposure, pollution, ionizing radiation, chemicals, toxins and other physical injuries.
Large individual differences in how we age are to be expected – we are all so uniquely different from each other, no matter our comparative age, location, socioeconomic or dietary status. It can be a little bewildering to know how to age ‘gracefully’, especially as some scientists maintain that ageing begins from the time you are born! Scientists do tend to agree that age-related loss of function is a feature of virtually all ageing organisms, and that your ‘calendar’ age is not a true determinant of ageing.
So with that in mind, and especially knowing that the average age of the entire world population is steadily increasing, I truly believe it is time to demystify the ways in which we can maximise our ageing potential!
Increasing awareness about the best choices for your inner and outer health is the perfect beginning. Start small, improving one thing every day, or week or month and you’ll be seeing tremendous positive changes sooner than you think. It IS possible to facilitate successful ageing!

Ageing is closely allied with both nutrition and inflammation, with recent research also suggesting that our nerve cells are also closely involved with the entire regulation of our ageing processes, as they are very sensitive to nutrient and environmental stressors (Deleidi M, 2015).  The dysregulation of our immune system is another well recognised effect of ageing, as a result of both cellular ‘senescence’ and an increase in the production of inflammatory cytokines. Chronic low-grade inflammation is a consequence – and thus a vicious cycle of cell destruction begins (Deleidi M, 2015).

FYI: Senescence is the irreversible loss of the power of division and growth of cells, often caused by damaged DNA. Senescent cells disrupt normal tissue structures. Cytokines are cell ‘messengers’ or signallers that can influence what another cell is doing. They regulate our immune responses by interacting with our immune system cells, as well as mediate many other cell processes in the body. There are many different types of cytokines.
‘Inflammageing’ is the popular term used to describe the intimate relationship between low-grade chronic inflammation, immunity and ageing, with a large body of evidence signifying the affiliation between low-grade chronic inflammation and the susceptibility to many age-related diseases (Candore G, 2010).
Consistent inflammation will ultimately manifest visually in and on your skin in the form of wrinkles, pigmentation and a loss of elasticity, with signs of redness, itchiness, flaking, breakout and dullness also often present. In short – it’s not fun, and it ain’t pretty. Let’s take a closer look…
Inflammation isn’t always bad – in fact, a properly regulated inflammatory response is essential for our survival! Inflammation is a normal defensive mechanism our body initiates to maintain homeostasis (internal equilibrium) and remain healthy. Inflammation works to protect us from stress/injury (mental, physical or chemical), infection caused by invading pathogens (bacteria, virus, fungi, protozoa), radiation exposure, very high or low temperatures, or autoimmune processes (Jenny N S., 2012). Acute inflammation is characterised by some familiar signs; redness, swelling, heat, pain and loss of normal function (from a cellular to organ level, depending upon the severity), and although chronic inflammation can display some or all of the same signs it can also be totally invisible (Candore G, 2010).
Chronic inflammation can be triggered inappropriately by allergies (hypersensitivity), autoimmune diseases or ongoing stress/injury. Chronic inflammation involves a loss of tolerance to recurrent stimuli and/or inefficient internal regulation, and can present major issues. The physical extent, duration and effects of chronic inflammation can vary incredibly with each individual depending upon the cause of the injury and the individual’s innate ability to amend cellular damage… the more stressors you are subjected to, the lower your innate ability to deal with any injuries. These injuries could also be mental – it is worth noting that an ever-expanding body of evidence clearly links depression with both a chronic low-grade inflammatory response and impaired immune-regulatory processes (Berk M, 2013). Chronic inflammation has also been linked to declines in cognitive function – so it seems that if you want to stay smarter, you must work harder at keeping inflammation at bay!

Inflammatory reactions are always characterised, and can be measured by, the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and cell signalling cytokines (Berk M, 2013). Factors that affect and temper the circulating levels of these inflammatory mediators include over-nutrition and obesity, poor nutrition, dietary (energy) restriction, high cholesterol, medications, infections, physical activity level, sleep deprivation, UV exposure, pollution and chemical exposure, high alcohol intake, altered gut microbiota, and the impossible to avoid age-related declines in sex hormones (Candore G, 2010). Chronic mental stress affects the glucocorticoid-mediated anti-inflammatory responses, leaving our ‘normal’ stress hormone responses impaired. Many of these listed factors we actually have either some or total control over. Now that’s (anti-inflammatory) food for thought!
Still, there is more… As we age our natural skin pH level decreases, provoking a disturbed skin barrier function. Abnormalities of our epidermal barrier are known to link to several inflammatory diseases. An impaired skin barrier stimulates protease activity (proteases play a key role in skin homeostasis and are crucial signalling molecules involved in several cellular pathways), and a notable increase in matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) activity (Candore G, 2010). Lots of confusing sounding words, yet what we all need to recognise is that MMPs degrade collagen and other proteins, and that their overactivity totally compromises your skin structure.

Basically, an overabundance of uncontrolled MMPs lead directly to sagging and wrinkles! There is also a decreased ability to quench overactive reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to damage of vital cellular structures including DNA, lipids and proteins. Reactive oxygen species is a term which you may have heard of - the close association between ROS and lifestyle-related ageing and diseases is well known (Schieber M., 2014).
ROS often gets a bad rap, yet this is another necessary physiological process that occurs in any air breathing species, and without them we wouldn’t survive. ROS are formed as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen, with the production and detoxification of these reactive molecules simply needing to be in balance to control any potentially harmful effects. Our modern lifestyle just does not substantiate this! ROS can get out of control very quickly if enough anti-oxidants are not present to combat the ROS. Think of an overabundance of ROS as being guests at a party – their numbers swell and suddenly they get super rowdy … they are intent on destruction, and without the protective influence of our anti-oxidant ‘security’ molecules they will wreak havoc very quickly. Studies have shown that an overabundance of ROS within our immune cells will create a hyperactive immune response. This leads to being super sensitive, a difficult state of being.
Most ROS occur naturally as a result of our typical metabolic processes, although it is the externally produced sources that create the most damage. These sources include both first and second-hand cigarette smoke, other almost impossible to avoid environmental pollutants such as emission from cars and industries, the easier to control or avoid consumption of alcohol, dietary trans-fats and sugars, exposure to radiation, and bacterial, fungal or viral infections. As well as contributing to premature ageing, dysregulated ROS are also known to play a role in rosacea and other forms of acne (Schieber M., 2014). ROS function is inherently related to both body fat and exercise – keeping within your BMI weight range and even mild to moderate daily exercise will assist in the regulation of ROS (Handschin C, 2008). Obviously food choices are a big component of weight gain, and anti-oxidant activity, and will affect ROS.
Anti-Inflammatory Treatments
Prevention, mediation - and even reversal - of ”inflammageing” is entirely possible. Dietary choices are a top priority, a topic I will elaborate further on in another article. What you do need to know is that by using a wide variety of topically applied products containing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients you can really change the way your skin ages! Of course, these products need to be highest quality ingredients (food grade) and cleverly formulated with a skin synergistic delivery system that ensures excellent penetration.

I’ve found that the very best are liposomal delivery systems made of phosphatidylcholine, or PC, which are clever little spheres that carry the active ingredients deep into the epidermis. As the spheres break open inside the layers of the epidermis, the PC (which is a lipid component found naturally in the skin) then becomes part of the lipid matrix that forms your skin barrier… genius huh, and makes perfect skin sense! Get those old scholl (yet still very much in use) synthetic liposomal shells outta here! Keep in mind that without an inbuilt delivery system even the best ingredients in the world will have difficulties gaining access to the cells in your skin.

In addition to inhibiting the key mediators of inflammation and ageing processes, ingredients such as Boswellia, Green Tea, Linseed, Kigelia, Vitamins A, B, C, E and Zinc will help reinforce, protect and boost the innate anti-oxidant response of the skin. A strong, cohesive lipid barrier is an integral part of reducing inflammation, even systemic (body wide) inflammation, and will also aid in enhancing the activity and penetration capabilities of these powerful topically applied actives. Repairing your skin barrier requires a very specific combination of cholesterols, fatty acids and ceramides. Your moisturising skin care needs to contain all three to be really effective – it is common to find one or two of these, and much less common to see all three. This is why it’s so imperative to know what’s actually IN your products – or work with a skin therapist that does! 

Successful, results driven salon treatments will always incorporate the rebuilding, reinforcement and protection of your lipid skin barrier, and most will also include targeted topical anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant care in the form of serums. Client education is important here also – the proper daily use of effective SPF is a vital part of reducing inflammation and ageing in the skin, everywhere on the body! Avoiding or limiting the use of any products containing SLS, ammonia, fragrance, Benzyl alcohol, harsh exfoliating beads and also shunning super-hot showers, harsh scrubs and over cleansing will be a good start in anybody’s daily routine. Dietary choices need to be addressed and referrals should be made where appropriate.

As a skin therapist I believe it is imperative to recognise that age is not the most essential factor when designing a treatment plan for the client. We are all just too unique! Taking into account all stressors such as past and current health status, previous medical interventions, sun exposure, type of skin, lifestyle, dietary choices including supplements, skincare product choices - as well as checking in with the clients’ skin goals and timeframe to achieve them - are some of the core factors when mapping out home and in-salon care. These key identifiers will help provide the information needed to create the most satisfying plan that delivers exceptional results (happiness for both the client and the treating skin therapist!).
Keep in mind that all the desired anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing effects on the skin are a continuous, step-by-step process. Ideally there’ll be a combinination of various technological modalities and skin therapist techniques that will cleverly and positively influence cell communication, bio-revitalisation, rejuvenation, and the careful restoration of each skin layer. In-salon treatment favourites are Mesotherapy Active Infusion plus LED Light therapy, and the at-home favourites always include lipid rebuilding ingredients plus serum actives (with the above mentioned skin synergistic lipids and delivery system) applied daily.

Great health and ageing well takes conscious effort! The process of maintaining and optimising skin radiance – and life -  for each of us is truly a constant and deliberate development of thoughtful decisions. The choices you make contribute to the preservation and enhancement of your internal and external integrity! Sure, it’s impossible to be perfect all the time, but being aware and increasing your knowledge are the first steps on your journey to being your best.

Share, enjoy, live, love!

Yours in skin health,

Berk M, W. J. (2013). So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from? BMC medicine, 2013, 11(1), 1.
Calder C, A. N. (2011). Dietary factors and low-grade inflammation in relation to overweight and obesity. British Journal of Nutrition, 2011, 106(S3), S1-S78.
Candore G, C. C. (2010). Low grade inflammation as a common pathogenetic denominator in age-related diseases: novel drug targets for anti-ageing strategies and successful ageing achievement. Current pharmaceutical design, 2010, 16(6), 584-596.
Deleidi M, J. M. (2015). Immune aging, dysmetabolism, and inflammation in neurological diseases.
Handschin C, &. S. (2008). The role of exercise and PGC1α in inflammation and chronic disease. Nature, 454(7203), 463-469.
Jenny N S. (2012). Inflammation in aging: cause, effect, or both? Discovery medicine, 2012, 13(73), 451-460.
Miller M, F. D.-H. (2015). Effects of dietary blueberry on cognition and in vivo and in vitro inflammatory status. The FASEB Journal, 29(1 Supplement), 900-2.
Schieber M., &. C. (2014). ROS function in redox signaling and oxidative stress. Current biology, 2014, 24(10), R453-R462.
Thorburn A N, M. L. (2014). Diet, metabolites, and “western-lifestyle” inflammatory diseases. Immunity,2014, 40(6), 833-842.




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