Skincare Powered by Functional Nutrition
Aug 05 2020 Kat Burki
As I began to understand the body and how it responds to its environment, toxins, nutrition and stress, I was in a really good (albeit outside-the-box position) to start understanding skincare. While studying Nutrition as an undergraduate, I was being trained at a time when, luckily, we knew that trans-fats and pesticides were bad for us. We understood that our bodies did need fat, and yes, the food pyramid was upside-down, because it was whichever industry paid the most money (which is grain and cereals) that got top status, rather than what was best for our health.
At that time, fiber was really popular (as with many things - food, nutrition and medicine all have fads and ups and downs), so I embarked on a truly very healthy diet, except I was regularly consuming 8-12 grain breads.
By the time I was in law school, along with living in a toxic apartment and coping with a lot of stress from year one of school; my skin started looking dull and my breathing became labored. It was then, after my first-year final exams, that my body completely collapsed. That Summer, I pulled out of my job working for a healthcare attorney, and decided to work ‘on me’. Growing up, my mother had read every health and nutrition book there was, and it was all that we talked about; so I would say, that between that and my studies, I was in a decent position to start peeling away what exactly was going on with me.
Many people aren’t so lucky, and would have been over medicalized in many instances, while never once looking at what they ate as a possible culprit. To make a very long story short, I finally realized that wheat was causing all of my issues - including my skin! I found physicians who were trained in functional medicine, who know to look at what you eat, and how you live first and foremost, rather than writing a prescription. By my third year, I added on a Masters in Health Policy to my studies, to really dive deeper into understanding how most major disease categories around the world were heavily linked to nutrition.
Our skin is an organ, and works as a whole with our body, but also has separate needs and requirements. Studies have demonstrated that topical skin treatments work better and faster than ingestible (makes sense as it travels to the intestines first). But as we saw from my personal example; food, vitamins/minerals and gut health still do impact the appearance of the skin as well - especially those that are inflammatory or dehydrating.
Skin conditions are often telling you that something is off. The good news is that the cells of the skin are constantly renewing and healing. A similar stepwise approach to the examples of how functional medicine looks at the whole person above, I started to look at skincare the same way. The whole person, the whole skincare regime and where science really comes in the whole ingredient deck (not just one star ingredient but more important how they work together as super nutrients). Skincare should be looked as a continuum, firstly, getting the skin to what I call baseline.
To get to baseline, as it relates to how one approaches skincare, is - firstly, what am I putting on my skin that is adversely affecting it or rendering it ineffective? As I mentioned above, topical is really the first to look at as oftentimes it is additives, alcohol, fragrance and/or even coloring in products. Some products have ingredients that completely block the availability of another (silicone is an example).
Secondly, what am I not putting on it? Making sure to give the skin exactly what it needs to heal itself. In part 2 of this article, I will discuss how baseline in achieved, what to do for targeted concerns, and thirdly, how we are formulating our products as a whole – to give your skin the tools to heal, protect itself, and to be its healthiest and most vibrant. It is absolutely possible to have better skin today, than you had in your younger days.
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