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Posts Tagged ‘inflammation’

inflammaging_faceI am someone that has sensitive skin. I remember trying a cream in the 1980s that contained alpha hydroxy acids, the ‘anti-aging” ingredient of that era, and feeling the burn. I knew then that this unpleasant sensation on my skin could not possibly be good for it so I avoided it from that point on. Having sensitive skin has saved me from so many harsh products over the years and I believe it is a major factor in having great skin in my 40s.

Inflammaging is a new term for the cellular damage that occurs when certain chemicals come in contact with the body. In skin care terms, this means anything that causes burning, redness, swelling, or pain. It can also describe something that’s much more subtle, a chronic low-grade inflammation from skin care ingredients that you can’t detect but are slowly damaging your skin and causing it to age more rapidly than if you used nothing at all. I’ve seen it time and time again, someone that looks amazing for their age and when asked what they use, they respond with ‘nothing’. This is how my suspicions started about conventional products doing more harm that good. Many times, it’s the actual ‘anti-aging’ ingredients that are the culprit. Take for instance glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid with molecules so tiny it can penetrate layers and attack collagen and elastin, leading to droopy skin and deep wrinkles.

Quick fix solutions and painful or harsh treatment are not the answer. Nourishing and supporting your skin with gentle, natural ingredients is the long term solution because they are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals that work in harmony with our bodies rather than seeming like a foreign intruder that must be battled.

Ingredients known to cause inflammaging:

– glycolic acid

– retinol

–  benzoyl peroxide

This is a limited list of ingredients that I could dig up but I am positive the list is much larger, with chemical sunscreens, all alpha and beta hydroxy acids, certain detergents, and some essential oils. My advice would be to listen to your skin. A skin care product should feel soothing and cooling and serve to protect and rebuild. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

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One of the main causes of aging skin is inflammation. It damages cells and reduces collagen production, creating wrinkles and sagging well before they are supposed to appear. There are two types of inflammation – acute inflammation, which is the body’s healthy response to injuries and infection and chronic inflammation, which is when the body is continuously in a state of inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body can trigger serious diseases such as atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and diabetes. On the skin, it can lead to premature aging, rosacea, eczema and hyper-pigmentation. It is caused by eating the wrong foods, drinking excessively, smoking, stress, infections, immune responses, uv rays and the most common, harsh skin care products.

People inundate their skin with harsh ingredients every day of their lives because they are in so many products. Sensitive skin types know exactly what these products are because they will feel a burn, and develop redness and/or swelling. Other people won’t feel a thing but that doesn’t mean it is not incurring the damage.

Look for the following ingredients to avoid chronic skin inflammation in your daily routine:

1. Alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids – Includes glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, salicylic acid and tartaric acid. The are chemical exfoliants that remove dead skin cells but can also damage healthy cells and barrier function. They also leave the skin vulnerable to UV rays.

2. Chemical sunscreens – These types of sunscreen turn UV rays into heat on the skin. They can be very irritating and cause redness and bumps to form. Look for products with zinc, a physical sunscreen that blocks UV rays by deflecting it off the face.

3. Fragrance – Can be an assortment of many chemicals, including harmful ones like phthalates and synthetic musks. Choose natural products with no fragrance or ones with gentle essential oils.

4. Detergents – These cleansers are currently in everything. They have even replaced bar soap for many people. They are meant to remove grease, dirt and pollutants but will also remove protective barriers and cause imbalances and inflammation in the skin. Use bars soaps and milk cleansers instead.

5. Retinoids – Retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, and retinyl linoleate are anti-aging ingredients related to vitamin A. They make your skin sun-sensitive and break down when exposed to UV rays to create free radicals that will damage your skin. Stick to anti-aging rosehip oil for a natural dose of retinoid, sans the side effects.

If one of the main causes of premature aging is chronic skin inflammation, then it is wise to keep inflammatories out of your life by way of lifestyle choices and the right skin care products. Natural skin care is the best choice for this because the ingredients are not only free of harsh ingredients, but they also contain anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that will reverse the damage that occurs.

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