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You Were Born with Beautiful Skin

Once upon a time you had plump little cheeks and super-soft skin that lifted effortlessly into your baby smiles. When you woke up from a nap, your skin would be glowing and moist and irresistibly kissable. Come on, it wasn’t that long ago! Being skin is hard work, so over the years your skin has lost some of the suppleness it used to have. As the largest organ in the body, your skin has been busy regulating your body temperature and maintaining a barrier between you and the environment. It has been assaulted by soaps and sunlight and buffeted by dry winds. It has protected your organs from ultraviolet radiation, toxic chemicals, and germs. It has enabled you to sweat yet has prevented the vital water in your body from evaporating. It has given your face beautiful expressions, made you blush, and allowed you to feel soft caresses.

Your skin has endowed you with your distinctive hair and given you fingernails and toenails to polish. Over the years your skin accumulates damage—not just on the surface but also underneath. Free radicals break down cell membranes and cause irritation on the cellular level. Your skin gets thinner, and the fat pads underneath diminish and shift, making your skin look looser while accentuating wrinkles. Collagen and elastin—proteins that provide structure and support for your skin—start to break down and are renewed at a slower rate, making your skin saggy and less elastic. With age the skin produces less oil, so it becomes more difficult for it to retain moisture and it becomes drier.

The skin around the eyes usually shows the first signs of aging due to the presence of smaller and fewer oil glands there. As you get older, blood vessels in your skin become more fragile, taking away some of the radiance of youth. Some facial expressions, like scowling or squinting, start to etch lines in your face. If you smoke, drink alcohol regularly, or eat poorly, these habits will stress your skin even more. The rate at which your skin loses its firmness and elasticity depends on both factors beyond your control, such as your genetic makeup, and lifestyle factors you can control, such as your exposure to the sun, your skin-care regimen, and of course, your diet!

Your skin is a very strong indicator of your overall health. If you have not been eating a nutrient-rich diet, your skin may get oily and clogged, dry and rough, or flare up with acne. Eczema, psoriasis, and breakouts are not a normal and necessary part of life. Think of these symptoms as your skin trying to get your attention. They may be a sign that you are not meeting your body’s nutritional needs. Once you get your diet back in order, your skin will reward you by once again becoming glowing, moist, and irresistibly kissable. It takes three to four weeks for the skin to renew itself. Sometimes you’ll want a quick fix to zap a zit and get you through the short term, but to regain your youthful glow, try my Beauty Diet and follow the super skin recommendations in this site for four weeks. Then reward yourself with a special event, because you’ll be ready for your own close-up!

Feel the Skin You’re In
I’m sure you already know what your skin looks like. Most of us look in the mirror every morning, and for some of us it’s a bit of a shock. What I would like you to do now is feel your skin. Check the texture of your neck and face. Does it feel firm and supple or crepelike and saggy? Does it feel plump or thin? Is it smooth or bumpy? Are there places that are dry or oily? Do you feel any areas that are stiff or inflexible?

You probably think of your skin as a very thin layer, but it consists of three layers. Once you understand the processes that occur there, you’ll have a better idea why it is so important to supply your skin with the nutrients it needs to renew itself.

Your Face to Face the World: The Epidermis
The epidermis is the outermost layer that protects the body from various environmental stressors. It also has cells that contain melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Whether you are aware of it or not, the first thing you notice about other people is probably their epidermis—and it’s the first thing other people notice about you.

The outer layer of skin consists of dead cells that are packed into a matrix of lipids (fats). These dead cells are continuously sloughing off, while cells in the lower layer of the epidermis are continuously proliferating, at a rate of millions per day. Cells from the lower layer work their way up to the surface through a differentiation process called keratinization. So the dry, flat cells on the surface of your skin today were actually once upon a time thick, healthy cells from below the surface.

The most important substances in the top layer of the skin are the keratin proteins and skin lipids. The stratum corneum (topmost layer) uses fatty acids, which is why consuming quality fats will give you quality skin. It also includes a family of lipids called ceramides, which have names like alpha-hydroxy and omega-hydroxy acids. Sound familiar?

Some beauty products contain synthetic ceramides to replace those lost during the aging process. These natural lipids are a major component of skin structure, and they allow the skin to retain moisture.


Smoking and Your Skin: Everybody knows smoking is bad for your lungs, but it also takes a toll on your natural beauty! When you light up—or when you are near someone else who lights up—the cigarette smoke goes into your lungs, and from there into your bloodstream, and then throughout your body.

Each lungful of smoke sends free radicals everywhere, causing oxidative stress in every part of your body. In addition, free-radical damage accumulates below the surface of your skin and ultimately leads to wrinkles.

Cigarette smoke makes your blood vessels constrict, which impairs the blood flow to your skin. This not only makes you look gray but also prevents your body from being able to carry toxins and debris away from your tissues. In addition, it prevents nutrients from reaching the cells in your skin, so they cannot refresh and renew themselves. Smoking breaks down collagen and elastin in skin, which contributes to wrinkles and sagging.

Cigarette smoke depletes your body’s supply of vitamin C, which is a key ingredient for keeping skin plump and moist. Smokers need far more of the antiaging antioxidants because their bodies suffer from far more oxidative stress. The damage smoking does to your appearance can take 10 years to appear, but it is irreversible. Smoking simply is not compatible with youthful, soft, attractive skin. You can keep smoking, or you can have beautiful skin. Your choice.

The Award for Best Supporting Role Goes to . . . the Dermis!
The dermis is right under the epidermis. It is a thick, resilient layer of connective tissue that makes up about 90 percent of the skin’s depth. Beneath every attractive epidermis is a robust dermis.

The dermis contains collagen and elastin, two interconnected structural proteins that create a dense mesh. Collagen gives skin its resilience and strength, while elastin gives skin its ability to stretch and snap back. Together they support the nerve endings, muscle cells, sweat glands, sebaceous (oil) glands, hair follicles, and tiny blood vessels in this layer of skin. The dermis also contains special cells called fibroblasts that synthesize collagen and elastin. The sebaceous glands produce sebum, which lubricates the skin and makes your hair waterproof. These natural oils keep your skin soft and supple and prevent your scalp from getting dry and flaky.

When the sebaceous glands become overactive, they produce too much oil, which can lead to clogged pores, blackheads, and pimples. Later in this site, I’ll explain how to turn troubled skin into terrific skin.

Plump It Up: The Hypodermis
The hypodermis is a subcutaneous layer that consists mostly of fat and provides both insulation and cushioning. This layer is responsible for smooth, plump-looking skin.

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