When you look at your skin what do you see? Healthy skin is smooth, with no breaks in the surface. It is warm and not hot or red and neither dry and flaky nor moist and wrinkled. Healthy skin is a mirror of a healthy body.
Did you know we can sometimes look without really seeing? Regarded as inattentional blindness it occurs when we physically receive sensory input, but it is processed without us really understanding it. This can cause us to miss valuable information that is right in front of our eyes regarding our state of health.
Healthy skin matters every day! Founder and CEO Sahil Singh of dr.dermal® an advanced award winning South African cosmeceutical skincare brand offers some illuminating perspectives about your skin health and discusses the biggest concerns of today, namely pigmentation, premature ageing, and uneven skin tone.
Together with his partner, clinical aesthetician Thejal Singh who operates the SKIN by dr.dermal® clinic in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal they provide treatments and deliver cosmeceutical grade active ingredients to your skin in high concentrations that deliver noticeable repair and results.
Understanding your Skin Health
Sahil Singh is practical, knowledgeable, and passionate about skin care health: “It is important to understand that your skin is an organ that reflects the overall of health your entire body. We must look at our skin as a link and barometer to our complete well-being. Our skin is not just a separate organ to put treatments on top of and hope for fantastic outcomes and results while we ignore our internal state. It is as much about what we are putting into our body in terms of nutrition and our activity level that has significant impact on the state of our skin’s health.
“Many skin health issues are a direct result of a poor lifestyle and personal care, and we want to make people aware of the bigger picture and the effects our daily habits can have towards looking healthy, vital, and beautiful every day.
“Our products are tried and tested and our goal is to deliver results from the first use, but for the best effects and the most long-lasting skin health, the entire picture must be understood.”
dr dermal: Understand What Your Skin is Saying:
Imbalance: Pigmentation is one of the biggest issues we address in our SKIN by dr.dermal® treatment room. It is commonly linked to modern lifestyles and poor dietary habits that encourage excessive levels of glucose in the body, which can lead to insulin resistance and other hormonal imbalances downstream.
Trauma: Pigmentation indicates that your skin is experiencing some sort of trauma and is attempting to protect itself. It is a defensive action of your skin to create melanin to act as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Hormonal: Pigmentation can present at various stages of our lives whenever our hormones become imbalanced, such as fluctuating degrees of oestrogen and progestogen which are triggered by levels of activity, diet, and obesity. Some pigmentation may be transient and flair up during menstruation, pregnancy, when using contraceptive pills or during menopause, further illuminating the hormonal link. Insulin resistance is often indicated by dark velvety patches on the skin called acanthosis nigricans, usually in the folds of the neck, armpit and elbows and knuckles.
Exposure: Pigmentation can also be caused by sun exposure. Most people are unaware they need to use sun block indoors as much as outdoors due to UV light entering windows and causing free radical damage.
Collagen loss: The commonly known symptoms of ageing are wrinkles, sagging skin, uneven skin tone and thinning skin texture. Wrinkles and sagging are due to collagen loss which we can pre-emptively address when we consider that we lose between 1 and 2 percent of collagen a year after the age of 20. Collagen loss is also accelerated by UV damage and over exposure to free radicals. Early action is ideal to prevent degeneration, but improvements can be made at any stage of the progression with a good treatment plan.
Glucose overload: Much of the damage of premature aging is due to elevated levels of glucose that triggers a reaction called glycation in our body. Glycation involves the non-enzymatic reaction between sugars and proteins and/or lipids. This uncontrolled reaction creates something called an advanced glycation end product or ‘AGE’. The body doesn’t have any natural means of removing these AGE’s and they cause inflammation and oxidative stress. All types of carbohydrates in our diet turn into glucose in the body. When the glucose levels are elevated, insulin follows since glucose can’t be transported into our cells without insulin. When your insulin is persistently elevated then metabolic concerns and bigger health issues appear down the line.
Glycation: Glycation is caused by high carbohydrate diets; the glycation process causes excess glucose in skin fibres which triggers a reaction where sugar molecules attach to the collagen and elastin proteins which normally keep skin firm and supple. Instead, these reactions make collagen rigid and contributes to making us look older than we really are.
Inflammation: Excess glucose is also the cause of inflammation since AGEs are not recognised by your body and so they are treated as foreign bodies and inflammation occurs. The damage in your skin caused by glycation is also an indicator that other tissues in your body are being damaged by excessive glucose.
Insulin resistance: While our bodies efficiently remove glucose from our blood by shuttling it into cells for energy, converting it into short term storage as glycogen, or into long term storage as fat, our fasting glucose levels can remain at normal levels for decades while our insulin levels persistently rise to cope with the consistent glucose burden we place on our systems. By the time patients are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they may have been insulin resistant for up to twenty years prior. Insulin resistance is not something that is routinely tested for; however, your skin can provide tell-tale signs of insulin resistance. Skin conditions such as skin tags, acanthosis nigricans, and dark patches on the knuckles are indicators or symptoms of insulin resistance.
dr dermal Lifestyle Solutions:
Audit your lifestyle and understand the reality of your everyday actions and lifelong habits. If you have a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits, we can offer advice about changing your diet to reduce glucose levels and inflammation. It is difficult to get people to implement change and it is usually met with resistance, but we plant the seed and hope the individual will take it seriously.
Implementing Change: Start by adopting good habits. Reduce all sugars from your diet, including grains, flours, rice etc as all grains and starches become glucose in your body. Avoid foods that are processed or come in a packet or box. Get active daily. Eat less, move more.
TIP: Source organic and unprocessed foods. Find out who your local grocer or butcher is and focus on farm style eating instead of city style eating.
Eliminate all seed oils: Avoid using seed oils including sunflower, canola, soybean oil and most commercial cooking oils. These are poly unsaturated fats that are molecularly unstable. Think of how the top of your oil bottle lid starts to become rubbery over time; processed polyunsaturated oils are prone to oxidisation, and this rubbery gunk around the oil bottleneck is the fat oxidising in the air. The same thing happens in your body and this residue can take up to two years to be removed from the body.
Today, we are over consuming seed oils as they are present in all processed foods, salad dressing, snacks, biscuits, etc. Most seed oils are high in Omega 6 fatty acids and while we need omega 6 (it is an essential fatty acid) it is not good for us in excess. Sunflower oil alone is made of 70% omega 6. On the other hand, omega 3 is getting increasingly harder to come by as we are eating less fatty fish and grass-fed beef and dairy. This Omega 6/Omega 3 imbalance causes inflammation and other harmful health complications. While it is almost impossible for us to become Omega 6 deficient because it is present in so many foods, we are becoming Omega 3 deficient since it is more difficult to find in foods we commonly eat.
TIP: Use available alternatives such as cold pressed virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter or ghee; and animal fats such as tallow or lard. Supplement Omega 3 with a good quality fish oil – we need an Omega 3 that is rich in EPA and DHA. Plant based Omega 3 such as flaxseed has a low rate of conversion (as little as 1%), so it does not provide the bio-availability of Omega 3 that our bodies can use.
Make Moves: Do not rule out the importance of exercise, people do not see the connection between movement and the skin. When we exercise, our bodies remove excess glucose from circulation to fuel the muscles and our insulin levels balance out. While any exercise is beneficial, resistance exercises have the most benefit as they create an anabolic state where the body will stay in a state of energy consumption for a longer duration as it rebuilds cells. This state will constantly feed on any excess glucose in your body and reduce the risks of glycation. Exercise also has the benefit of making your body more insulin sensitive – the opposite of insulin resistant – which leads to a better all-round state of health.
TIP: Skin tags are a visual sign of insulin resistance. We can remove them in our SKIN treatment clinic. For collagen compromised skin, we treat it with micro-needling and support the skin with the correct ingredients and treatments for the skin type and client goals.
Dr dermal Essential Ingredients for Skincare
For beautiful skin you do not need too many products put on it. At dr dermal we deliver on our promise of products that work and are invested in the health of your whole body which will reflect in your skin.
There is no quick fix as skin health takes time, effort, and corrective actions. However, we advise the essential staple ingredients everyone should have in their skincare routine as the following:
Vitamin C for the Skin, specifically L- ascorbic acid. All other forms of vitamin C must first be converted into L-ascorbic acid by your skin before they can be utilised, losing potency in the process.
Antioxidant and Collagen Synthesis to deal with free radical damage. Sun protection only addresses 55% of free radicals caused by UV assault but when it is incorporated with L-ascorbic acid there is a massive increase in the defensibility of your skin. L-ascorbic acid is also required for collagen synthesis so ensuring that your skin has a persistent reservoir of L-ascorbic acid which is beneficial.
Retinol is the most researched ingredient in skin care, and it is no secret that it does the work to improve cellular renewal and boost collagen content to act effectively against fine lines and wrinkles.
Alpha hydroxy acids are excellent at resurfacing the skin. With age the cellular cycle slows down and dead skin cells accumulate on the surface creating an uneven texture. AHA’s dissolve the protein bonds between these dead cells allowing them to easily slough off.
Skin identical lipids With age our skin barrier starts to deteriorate, and we need to replenish it with skin identical lipids (ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids). You will find products that have a combination of these three have anti-aging benefits since they restore the natural barrier function and reduce water loss.
Needling: We recommend micro needling as a regular treatment every 4 to 6 weeks. There are virtually no side effects or potential hazards of micro needling, and it improves skin condition every single time due to the manner in which it stimulates collagen. If you are attending an event that you want to look healthy and vital for, results will take four weeks for the collagen to grow so pace out your treatments or incorporate a regular maintenance plan.