You finally did it; you went all out on your skin.
You’ve layered on every product you can find in a bid to diffuse the inflammation.
Then why is it that your face is still reacting to everything you put on it?
Why have you been betrayed by your foolproof 10-step skincare routine?
The reason. Inflammation is complex; to truly understand the anatomy of inflammation, we first need to travel under our skin.
What exactly is inflammation?
Inflammation is a defence mechanism. It serves as the body’s natural way of protecting itself against injury and infection.
Our skin can become inflamed after injury, stress, poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, and repeated exposure to UV rays or pollution, all of which are contributing factors.
Acute inflammation: This typically has a fast onset and usually lasts a few days before normalizing – it is your body’s immediate response to negative stimuli.
If you bump your knee, you feel immediate pain; your knee becomes red, swollen, and painful over the next few hours, as your body sends white blood cells and fluid to the area to heal the injury. Usually, within a few days, the swelling and inflammation subside.
Chronic underlying inflammation: This persistent inflammation exhausts your skin’s defence system, weakening the structure of your skin, resulting in the degradation of collagen and elastin – your internal scaffolding.
Inflammation then begins as a response by the body to keep out infection; when our skin is damaged, it sets off several biological events involving the blood vessels, cells, and the immune system.
If a foreign body like pollen impairs the immune system, this creates inflammation referred to as immunogenic inflammation, cells get killed off in the wounded area, and the surrounding cells register this as danger.
In response, our immune cells come rushing in, sending out chemical messages that mean danger; this action attracts white blood cells, our warrior cells, the primary agents for fighting off intruders.
They put up a great fight, releasing a toxic mixture of hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals to destroy the unwelcome foreign bodies, such as viruses, cellular debris, and bacteria.
This process results in pain, redness, swelling, and heat associated with inflammation.
- Some of the chemicals released by the hero white cells reach all the way to the dermis.
- Once there, they engorge blood vessels creating a histamine action.
- This raises the temperature of the wounded site, killing the invading foreign bodies.
- This, in turn, creates inflammation, making skin appear sensitized and irritated.
Fortunately, in most cases, the inflammation is acute, and your body goes back to its natural homeostatic state.
However, chronic inflammation that doesn’t quit can cause negative stimuli to linger, which sets off an unhealthy cycle of inflammation that can go largely undetected under the surface.
This can result in inflammation, and granulose infections, causing serious damage if not detected early enough.
The first step in tackling inflammation is to minimise the triggers. One of the best ways to do this is with a skin detox-just like you would do a regular detox, this helps to clear the inflammation-causing impurities and environmental irritants that can build up on your skin over time:
- in the first instance, if your skin is hard out stinging and inflamed, we recommend simply treating it with water and an ice compress
- the next step would be to layer with a gentle, natural low weight hyaluronic acid product like H20, the reason behind this, you can read in the article here
- use very gentle products – whilst this won’t necessarily guarantee you won’t have a negative reaction, it means that the product you use, may not contain common allergens
- use only intelligently formulated products. Look for those containing anti-inflammatory ingredients such as Canadian Willowherb or nonsteroidal ingredients, such as those found in SOS soothing complex, that will calm and soothe even the most sensitive skin conditions.
- ensure they are free of alcohol; this is far too astringent for sensitive skin
- use only fragrance-free. This is really important because synthetic perfumes are the #1 cause of allergic skin reactions. None of our products uses artificial perfume, and many of them are specifically designed for calming inflammation in the skin.
- make sure they are sulfate-free; harsh and irritating detergents like Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate should be avoided all costs.
The Naked Chemist range of products is designed to support your skin as it goes through transition.
You can counter the dehydrating effects of inflammation with ingredients that protect your skin’s hydration and moisture content.
Hyaluronic acid has a wonderful ability to rehydrate and moisturise your skin, keeping your skin calm and soothed, which you can find in Quench ultra-hydrating water gel.
External stressors such as pollution, chemicals, UV fragrances, and more can initiate a key enzyme in your skin, referred to as COX-2. An enzyme that acts like an alarm system identifies a threat and initiates an inflammatory response in your skin.
Usually, the threat subsides, and the alarm shuts off. However, if the inflammation is not treated early enough, the alarm is triggered repeatedly until it just stays on.
This is the case with chronic inflammation, which ultimately exhausts your skin’s defence system, weakening the structure of the skin, thus resulting in the degradation of collagen and elastin and impairing your barrier function, which leaves your skin in a constant state of low-grade inflammation that continues to damage your skin cells.
One of the most impactful things you can do is recognise the type of inflammation you have and then eliminate the potential triggers from the list above, literally becoming your own label detective.
You need to stimulate a healthier environment for your skin, to begin to repair and balance the delicate micro-flora that makes up the acid mantle and encourage the production of collagen and elastin.
These changes will also increase cellular turnover and improve the skin barrier overall, preventing potential infections, slowing the damaging effects of premature ageing.