Dr. Michael Hakimi
Your skin is more complex than you might think. It’s composed of three different layers, each teaming with fluids, secretions, and tissues that help maintain a healthy, vibrant organ. A chief ingredient in this healthy system is water. Over 60% of your skin is made up of water, after all. So replenishing and maintaining those hydration levels is vital for your health.
Proper hydration for your skin involves two approaches. The internal approach means drinking plenty of water as well as consuming essential fatty acids. Fatty acids can be found in such common foods as fish, soybeans, and walnuts. They can also be taken in over-the-counter supplements. The external approach to hydration can be a bit trickier. There is some debate in the cosmetics industry on which process is the most effective way to treat the epidermis, or outermost layer of the skin.
What about moisturizers? The pharmacy shelves are overflowing with them. They’ve been a standard in beauty treatments since the 1960s. But do they actually hydrate the epidermis? Yes, and no. While many moisturizers offer a very effective delivery system for valuable nutrients for the skin, they do not actually introduce precious water to the skin matrix. Moisturizers will help maintain hydration levels, but that is pointless unless your skin is already sufficiently hydrated.
The chief cause of many dry skin problems is dead skin. These dead cells tend to build up over time, covering the acid mantle. The acid mantle is the key to the hydration process. It is a thin, slightly acidic film comprised of sebum secreted from the sebaceous gland, and sweat.
This is the precious substance that keeps your skin bouncy, vibrant, and youthful. Not only does this film hydrate your skin, it also protects you from bacteria, viruses, and other harmful contaminants.
So, the real trick is to get rid of the dead skin cells without getting rid of the acid mantle. Chemical peels are a useful way to rid your skin of dead cells. But you must be cautious with such treatments. The aggressive peels can strip away the acid mantle, leaving your skin barren and without protection.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are one of the gentler kinds of peels available. However, it is important to realize that you will still lose valuable hydration even as you lose the dead skin cells. It is vital that you replace the acid mantle immediately after an AHA peel.
Your practitioner will first want to add beta-glucans to your skin to help the cells heal from the peel. Beta-glucans are plant derived sugars known to kick-start the immune system and prevent infections.
You’ll also want to add fatty acids to help stimulate replacement of the lost acid mantle. Your practitioner will then use creams or moisturizers to deliver valuable nutrients to your skin. Remember, moisturizers won’t replace or add hydration to your skin, but they will help maintain current hydration levels.
It’s key throughout this process that your practitioner use ingredients that are bio-compatible. That is, they will not provoke or irritate the body’s natural immune system. Hyaluronic Acid is a perfect example of just such an ingredient. It is a substance that occurs naturally in the human body. It simultaneously bonds to both collagen and water molecules, naturally hydrating the skin by trapping water.
Hydration is vital to healthy, youthful skin. One way to maintain proper hydration levels is to drink plenty of water and eat a diet high in fatty acids.
Another way is to consult with your cosmetic surgeon or practitioner about using a treatment of gentle AHAs peels to remove dry, dead skin cells. This should be immediately followed by a series of bio-compatible treatments to replace, reinforce, and protect the valuable acid mantle on the skin.
Once that desired hydration level is achieved, you can maintain it using moisturizers high in valuable hydrating ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid.
Common sense and help from a qualified cosmetic specialist can go a long way towards returning that youthful, vibrant skin you used to know.