Skin Care Super Heros (A Functional Medicine Approach to Optimizing Skin Appearance)
Our skin is the biggest organ in the body and certainly gets our attention more than the others.
Our society is obsessed with perfection and anti-aging, which explains the many skin care products and procedures one can get. There are many out there who are more than happy to give you advice, and sometimes it involves a pill, an expensive skincare ritual, or worse, a needle or scalpel.
As a Functional Medicine provider, my approach to skincare is no different from my approach to other organs’ health.
First and foremost, we must look at the foundational contributors:
- Water intake
- Environmental exposures
Often, we overlook these obvious contributors in hopes of finding the perfect cream or worse, a procedure to give us the quick fix. As with other health approaches, there rarely is a quick fix, and long-term management must consider the foundational components as important in optimizing skin appearance.
A diet high in inflammatory foods and low in antioxidants will rob the skin of its luster quickly.
Rashes, acne, redness, and accelerated aging are often signs of inflammation and an unhealthy gut. Addressing these may involve looking into food sensitivities, but the most important thing one can do is remove or reduce the inflammatory foods in the diet like sugars, processed foods with hydrogenated oils, gluten in some, excessive alcohol, and dairy in those who are sensitive. Optimizing your filtered water intake is a cheap and effective way to help the skin look more hydrated and allow the pores to flush out toxins and bacteria more efficiently. Sleep is an obvious skin supplement. We all know how a poor night’s sleep shows up on our faces the next day. You do not have to think hard to figure out what years of sleep will affect the aging process.
The products we put on our skin can be inflammatory as well.
We must be sure our skin care products (and procedures) are free of harmful chemicals and additives like parabens, BPAs, and phthalates. Choosing clean products like the line we provide at Thrive will benefit your skin in the short and long term.
There are a few “supplements” that can help to optimize your skin regimen. These focus on increasing collagen, reducing inflammation and the effects of oxidative stress, improving cell turnover, adding hyaluronic acid, and improving skin moisture. Depending on your concern, a medical-grade product may be beneficial, and this is why we have these available at Thrive but do not navigate this on your own. Make sure you get appropriate advice on what products will benefit your skin the most and be sure to add new products slowly so you can assess your response. In addition, to a holistic skin care regimen, facials and minor procedures like micro-needling can enhance the effectiveness of powerful skin care products.
There are a few skincare heroes you should look for in your products.
These are compounds known to have skin transforming effects. Medical grade products will have higher concentrations and, thus, results but advice from our aesthetician, Val, is always available.
Look for the following skin enhancement in products found at Thrive:
Retinaldehyde is one of the retinoids, a group of vitamin A derivatives, all of which work similarly in the skin to boost cell turnover and improve tone and texture while stimulating collagen production to ward off fine lines and wrinkles. Retinaldehyde is a precursor to retinoic acid, the compound in the prescription, Retin A. It can give you all the prescription benefits without irritation and redness, which often keeps people from using it regularly. Like the retinoids, retinaldehyde can increase cell turnover, increasing the appearance of smoother, more even skin. It can act as an exfoliant and reduce oil production and pore clogs, leading to blemishes and acne. Retinaldehyde increases collagen and can thicken the dermal layer of the skin. It is much less irritating than its prescription counterpart and can safely be used twice daily as it is not associated with UV susceptibility. While it can be less irritating, it is still a good idea to work up to higher doses as it can still cause peeling and redness in higher concentrations. Optimal results are achieved when this compound is paired with antioxidants and collagen boosters.
- Retinaldehyde’s composition is more bioavailable, which absorbs faster and more thoroughly, making it clinically proven to work 11 times faster than Retinol.
- Retinaldehyde is 1000 times more effective at stimulating collagen production than Retinol, yet it’s gentler to the skin.
- Retinaldehyde is not sun-sensitizing and doesn’t increase your risk of UVA/UVB damage or hyperpigmentation (like Retinol), so it can be included in your daytime skincare program.
- Retinal is safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Products carried at Thrive with retinaldehyde: Osmosis Advanced Retinol Serum; Osmosis Calm and Osmosis Correct.
Trioxolane is a highly bioavailable, stabilized oxygen molecule. This stable oxygen molecule helps support immunity, repairs and prevents protein oxidation, and helps calm inflammation.
Trioxolane is a super-charged ingredient that repairs changes in skin texture, age spots, enlarged pores, scarring, hyperpigmentation, and inflammation. It is specifically designed to repair the damage created by oxygen-free radicals. Trioxolane is anti-microbial; it strengthens your skin’s immune system by restoring its oxygen-fighting power. Skin Immunity is vital in fighting skin conditions and inflammation. While antioxidants (like vitamin C) prevent free radicals from stimulating chain reactions that lead to cell damage, immunity-boosters provide cells with the energy to fend off aggressors and repair damage after the fact.
Key Benefits of Trioxolane
- Helps neutralize toxins
- Boosts skin’s barrier
- Minimizes the appearance of age spots, rough skin, and large pores
- Calms redness
- Targets blemishes
Products with trioxolane: Osmosis Rescue Serum
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that provides numerous benefits to the skin. For instance, niacinamide can help repair the skin barrier, improve skin moisture, and reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling. This water-soluble vitamin also can reduce the size of pores, strengthen lax pores and improve the effects of environmental damage by improving the strength of the skin barrier. Recent studies have shown the benefits of this vitamin on prevention and even reversal of early skin changes felt to be precursors to skin cancers. Niacinamide combines well with other antioxidants and is easily tolerated. It is best to start with lower concentrations and work up to higher ones if tolerated.
Products with niacinamide include most Osmosis products, Thrive Needle Free Serum, Thrive Cleanser and Thrive Eye Complex
Antioxidants – E, C, and Ferulic Acid
- The antioxidants you consume can help to reverse the damage and aging of your organs, and the antioxidants applied to the skin are no different. Vitamin C – Vitamin C promotes collagen synthesis and prevents photodamage.
- Vitamin E is incredibly important to your skin because it’s a fat-soluble antioxidant that protects from free radical damage. Vitamin E is also protective against photodamage.
- Ferulic acid – Ferulic acid stabilizes vitamins C and E, and doubles its photoprotective properties.
Combining these powerful antioxidants can boost collagen production by 8 times in more concentrated forms, reduce wrinkle depth by 50% or more when applied in more concentrated formulations, protect against photoaging, and provide antioxidant protection.
Products with powerful antioxidants include Osmosis Catalyst-AC and Thrive’s Vitamin C with Ferulic and Needle Free Serum.
Peptides and Growth Factors
These compounds are derived from human stem cells and act at the cellular level to promote collagen growth, increase the strength and flexibility of fragile capillaries, and stimulate circulation and new cell growth. The body produces growth factors to control the growth, division, and maturation of cells. They are what regulate the division and the production of cells. When growth factors are utilized in products, they have two major benefits: protect the skin and stimulate the growth of new cells. The growth factors that are secreted from adult human stem cells benefit all skin conditions.
- Adult stem cells are derived from fat cells.
- Stem cells are transferred to a culture containing specific growth media.
- Stem cells begin dividing. During this process, their growth factors are secreted.
- 600+ growth factors and cytokines are secreted from the division of stem cells.
- The growth factors are concentrated by separating out the highest percent and leaving the stem cells behind to continue the division and creation of growth factors.
- Growth factors combined with exosomes enhance their ability to enter the skin.
Growth factors and skin peptides improve the skin barrier function and reduce the effects of oxidative stress. Regular use of peptides and growth factors can smooth wrinkles in as early as 7 days, increase collagen by over 70% and improve the appearance of skin complexion and firmness.
You can find these potent peptides and growth factors in Osmosis Stemfactor and in Thrive’s Peptide Growth Factor Cream.
There is a lot of information out there, so hopefully, this article has provided safer and more natural ways to improve and enhance your skin’s appearance and health. If you are still confused or need help, do not hesitate to reach out to our holistic aesthetician for more personalized advice and maybe enjoy a facial too!