How Your Skin Cleanses, Moisturizes and Exfoliates Itself

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Did you know that your skin, biologically, is fully capable of cleansing, moisturizing and exfoliating itself?

The problem is, the conventional beauty industry has taught us to force our skin to in act in unnatural ways for so long, that the skin isn’t able to fully do this anymore. We need to go back to basics. The beauty industry has caused so much imbalance.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It envelopes your entire body to protect you. It keeps moisture in, protects all your other organs, and when functioning optimally, keeps bacteria + viruses out.

Just like how your heart beats to keep blood flowing, and your liver detoxifies to keep you healthy, the skin knows exactly what to do to keep itself healthy, yet it’s the only organ we don’t trust. It is fully capable of cleansing, moisturizing and exfoliating itself. It’s what it’s biologically designed to do.

How Your Skin Cleanses Itself

A large portion of our lymphatic system is in the skin. It is the drainage system of the body and a huge part of our immune system. The lymphatic system literally cleans us from the inside out, including our skin. It cleanses, nourishes + detoxifies.

Yes, our skin is exposed to pollution, environmental elements and makeup each day, so a super gentle oil cleanser that does not strip any beneficial oils or natural protection away from the skin is beneficial at night. But cleansing your skin 2x’s a day is actually too much. Why? Because when you cleanse too much, you’re removing too many natural oils, dead skin cells, your acid mantle and healthy microbiome away. Your skin NEEDS all of this for healthy function. It was when I stopped cleansing my own skin twice a day that I saw the biggest improvement in the hydration and texture of my skin. You’re not doing your skin any favours by constantly cleansing it. The beauty industry has brain-washed you there so you’ll need to buy more product, more often.

Imagine if every time you made a meal, you had a huge plate full of vital nutrients and someone came along and swept it off your plate before you could eat it. That’s what you’re doing to your skin when you over cleanse!

How Your Skin Moisturizes Itself

Our skin produces sebum/oil, natural moisturizing factors, the acid mantle, dead skin cells, lipids (fats) and beneficial bacteria. All of these must be taken care of and respected because they are ALL necessary for optimal skin health and hydration.

Our skin needs to be in direct contact with its environment. When it is, it measures the humidity and quality of the air and instinctively responds accordingly. When the air is dry, healthy functioning skin will respond by producing oil, lipids and natural moisturizing factors in order to moisturize itself.

However, when we over moisturize topically or use moisturizers that are too thick or rich, this blocks the skin’s ability to be in direct contact with its environment. When the air is dry, the skin will not instinctively know to naturally produce what is needed to stay moisturized and hydrated, so the skin, without this topical moisturizer, becomes dry (because you are blocking its ability to take care of itself). This creates skin/product addiction.

In order to allow our skin to start naturally moisturizing itself again, it is vital that we use less product. Only a few drops of a light, fast-absorbing oil is needed, so that your skin can still be in direct contact with its environment. When reducing the amount of product you use, it’s normal for the skin to become more dry before it improves as it learns to readjust. As we age, the skin’s natural production decreases, but we can provide extra support by naturally stimulating this production (hello face massage).

The layer of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin is also necessary, because it helps our skin keep moisture in. When we over exfoliate, we block this ability. Exfoliating should never be done more than once a week, often even less than that. Daily exfoliants are detrimental to long-term skin health.

What’s even more interesting is that the beauty industry creates products that mimic our skin’s natural moisturizing factors. They make harsh cleansers that strip them, then they artificially replace them through toners, serums and moisturizers. Tell me how that makes sense!??!

How Your Skin Exfoliates Itself

Our skin cells have a 28 day life cycle. When they are produced, they start at the bottom and begin moving their way up to the surface of the skin (what we see).

As the cells get closer to the surface, they die, and when THEY are ready, they naturally slough off the skin (aka exfoliate). In fact, we lose about 30,000-40,000 cells every minute.

These dead skin cells are vital. They keep moisture in to hydrate our body and organs. They keep nutrients inside the body. They protect us from the sun’s damaging rays and they protect us from bacteria invasion, viruses, pollution, etc.

When we over-exfoliate with harsh exfoliants, peels, acids, vitamin C & retinol, we force our skin to start producing new skin cells at a faster rate. Because they’re being produced at a faster than normal rate, they are often not produced in optimal condition and may not function properly. You know what that means? Accelerated aging, inflammation + poor texture overtime.

Not only that, but you’ve heard me talk about the protective barrier. The one that helps maintain our pH level, skin health + prevents bacteria invasion? When we over-exfoliate, we damage this barrier… allowing it to be prone to excess oiliness or dryness, and be more susceptible to bacteria invasion, and increased inflammation.

Does it make sense that the beauty industry markets the importance of daily exfoliation? Is it simply misinformation, like how I was initially taught, or do they want our skin damaged so that we keep going back for more?

Instant external results does NOT equal long-term skin health. In fact, it’s the opposite. We don’t expect our heart to heal overnight, yet we expect our skin to?

If you have been over-exfoliating, allow time for you skin to heal. You’ve been stripping your skin, so it will be holding on tightly to dead skin cells in attempt to protect itself. Your skin will look a little dull before it looks better, but daily self massage can help with this.

Let’s stop forcing the skin to act in unnatural ways, and instead, support its natural processes. Trust your skin! It actually loves you and knows what’s best for you!

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About Rachel Devine

Rachel Devine is a multi award-winning holistic aesthetician and the founder and skin care formulator of R Devine Organic Skin Care.