Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Despite the fact that skin is our largest organ and fulfilling many vital functions, skincare is often left out of discussions about health. However, just like we exercise to look after our heart, and we keep hydrated to look after our kidneys, we need to look after our skin with a well-founded skincare routine that works for our skin type.
But before diving into building a skincare routine, it’s important to understand how skin works and how skincare plays a vital role in our skin’s health.
A new organ every 30 days
Our skin is a remarkable organ that is in constant renewal. It has four main layers and it takes roughly 30 days for a cell that started at the bottom of the epidermis to reach the outer later, flatten, die and be shed in what is called desquamation. This process takes a bit longer as we age.
The Importance of Sebum
One of the prevailing rumours in skincare is that sebum, that oily, waxy substance produced by the sebaceous glands in our skin, must be removed or cleansed away, particularly as increased sebum production can be attributed to skin conditions like acne.
While there’s no doubt that oily skin types, which produce an excess of sebum, will benefit from products to control oil production, these kinds of products can be actively harmful to dry skin types, which don’t produce enough. And, if your skin produces just the right amount of sebum, then cleansing it of those oils can dry out your skin.
From carrying fat-soluble vitamins to your skin, protecting your skin from UV rays, and even managing your skin’s microbiome, sebum plays a vital role in the health of your skin.
Your Skin Microbiome
Our skin is home to over 1,000 different species of bacteria, most of which live around our hair follicles where they have the best environment for growth and sustenance.
Our distinct skin ecosystem, and the communication between this microbiome and our skin cells and immune system, is key to our skin’s functioning. While some of these bacteria are beneficial in fighting off pathogens, others have been shown to have a causative role in acne and other skin conditions.
That doesn’t mean you need to break out a 15-step skincare routine, though – our current knowledge of the skin’s microbiome suggests that the good bacteria generally keep the bad in check. Unfortunately, when your skin’s ecological balance is thrown off, it can lead to you developing skin conditions like eczema, dandruff, or atopic dermatitis.
There’s still a lot of research needed into these strains of bacteria, and the science behind your skin’s microbiome is far less understood than that of your gut but we’re definitely making progress. There are some exciting developments that are looking into using the theory behind microbiome transplants to treat conditions like atopic dermatitis, which could prove a game-changer for the skincare industry.
The Needs of Sensitive Skin
So, where does sensitive skin fit into all of this, and what’s the science behind it?
Sensitive Skin Syndrome (SSS) is, as you probably know, a common skin condition that can affect both men and women. People with sensitive skin often find that their skin feels itchy or tight, or feels like it’s burning, prickly, or tingling, when it comes into contact with things like cosmetic ingredients (like soap, perfume, and water), environmental and physical factors (such as heat, cold, wind, pollution, UV light, or air conditioners). Hormonal changes and stress have also been attributed to SSS.
The skin has two main barriers to protect us from irritants, allergens, the environment, and from the loss of fluid and nutrients. The first one, as mentioned before, is a hydro-lipid film that sits on the surface of your skin, which has a slightly acidic pH to neutralise bacteria and extreme alkalines, like soap.
The second is a physical barrier called the stratum corneum (or epidermis), where lipids seal the gap between cells to create a semi-permeable barrier that regulates fluid loss.
While many hypotheses have been formulated on the causes of the condition, the most recent research suggests the presence of a neurosensory dysfunction, in which the neurons responsible for the epidermal nerve endings that sense pain, temperature, and itch are more sensitive. This leads to a skin type that’s less tolerant of certain stimuli.
Another possibility is that SSS is caused by a compromised skin barrier caused by dry skin and fluid loss. While dry skin is a typical hallmark of SSS, it’s important to note that SSS can affect all skin types.
In addition, current research suggests that a lowered keratinocyte count may be responsible for SSS. Keratinocytes make up roughly 90% of the cells in your epidermis and, depending on how they differentiate before they reach the stratum corneum, they begin producing different keratins that give the epidermis its strength and flexibility. Plus, their interactions with other cells like fibroblasts and melanocytes are a vital part of maintaining skin’s internal environment and ongoing renewal.
A lowered keratinocyte count can result in a thinner stratum corneum, as well as slower wound healing and increased inflammation. So, not only are more irritating compounds able to penetrate the outer layer of the epidermis, but you may also have an increased inflammation response due to having fewer keratinocytes in your outer epidermis.
While research is still ongoing into this fascinating subject, one of the best ways that people with SSS can manage their condition is to cautiously select well-tolerated, soothing skincare products.
Having sensitive skin doesn’t mean that you can’t have effective, sustainable, plastic-free skincare.
All of our products are specifically formulated to be friendly to sensitive skin, which is why we don’t use harsh preservatives or known irritants. And, when it comes to fragrance, we never use artificial compounds that can irritate your skin.
Award-Winning, Plastic Free Skincare For Sensitive Skin
While dry skin can be a common sign of sensitive skin, that doesn’t mean that it’s the only skin type that can be easily irritated by different chemicals and compounds. That’s why we developed our Hemp and Algae Face Cream, designed specifically for normal to oily skin types, as well as combination skin.
This plastic-free and sustainable face cream is scented only with the natural botanical elements present in the formula, so you don’t have to worry about any fragrance sensitivities you may have.
As you’ve probably already guessed, this product contains hemp extract from the flower, leaf, and stem of the Cannabis Sativa plant, which helps to soothe the skin. And, in order to improve the delivery and absorption of this vital ingredient, we’ve encapsulated it into liposomes, which are tiny round bubbles that transport it through your skin’s hydro-lipid barrier.
It also contains green micro-algae, which is a sustainable resource that hydrates the skin and protects it from pollutants. Ectoin®natural protects the skin from irritants, allergens, pollutants, and UV light and helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Our other ingredients have been specifically chosen for their soothing, hydrating, and skin renewal qualities, all of which results in a light-weight, luxurious day or night cream that’s perfect for everyday use.
At Whitfords, we value transparency. That’s why, for every product, we’ve made it easy for you to see what ingredients are included and why we use them. To learn more, head over to “Our ingredients” page or read more about why we avoid using fragrances.
Makrantonaki E., Ganceviciene R., Zouboulis C. An update on the role of the sebaceous gland in the pathogenesis of acne. Dermatoendocrinology. 2011;3:41–49. doi: 10.4161/derm.3.1.13900.
Fischer C. L., Blanchette D. R., Brogden K. A., Dawson D. V., Drake D. R., Hill J. R., et al. (2014). The roles of cutaneous lipids in host defense. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1841, 319–322. 10.1016/j.bbalip.2013.08.012.
Moran JC, Alorabi JA, Horsburgh MJ. Comparative transcriptomics reveals discrete survival responses of S. aureus and S. epidermidis to sapienic acid. Front. Microbiol. 2017;8:33. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00033.
Fitz-Gibbon S, Tomida S, Chiu BH, Nguyen L, Du C, Liu M, Elashoff D, Erfe MC, Loncaric A, Kim J, Modlin RL, Miller JF, Sodergren E, Craft N, Weinstock GM, Li H. 2013. Propionibacterium acnes strain populations in the human skin microbiome associated with acne. J. Invest. Dermatol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/jid.2013.21
Nakatsuji T, Chen TH, Narala S, Chun KA, Two AM, Yun T, Shafiq F, Kotol PF, Bouslimani A, Melnik AV, Latif H, Kim JN, Lockhart A, Artis K, David G, Taylor P, Streib J, Dorrestein PC, Grier A, Gill SR, Zengler K, Hata TR, Leung DY, Gallo RL. Antimicrobials from human skin commensal bacteria protect against Staphylococcus aureus and are deficient in atopic dermatitis. Sci Transl Med. 2017 Feb 22;9(378) doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah4680.
Huet F, Dion A, Batardière A, Nedelec AS, Le Caër F, Bourgeois P, Brenaut E, Misery L. Sensitive skin can be small fibre neuropathy: results from a case-control quantitative sensory testing study. Br J Dermatol. 2018 Nov;179(5):1157-1162. doi: 10.1111/bjd.17082.
Fan L, He C, Jiang L, Bi Y, Dong Y, Jia Y. Brief analysis of causes of sensitive skin and advances in evaluation of anti-allergic activity of cosmetic products. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2016 Apr;38(2):120-7. doi: 10.1111/ics.12283.