Monday, January 21, 2013

Skin 101: How Your Skin Works

 So, before I get into what you can do for your skin, I want to give you a quick run-down of how your skin actually works.  Knowing how it works, and what skin type you have, is essential in figuring out what your skin needs.

When your pores work correctly, they allow just enough sebum (your skin’s natural oil) through to spread across your face and lubricate your skin, acting as a barrier to seal in moisture and keep it healthy. This happens for those lucky people with normal skin and small, even pores.

There are two main reasons that this can go wrong: over-production of sebum, and rapid shedding of dead skin cells. When your skin cells shed too rapidly, they can get clogged in your pores instead of getting pushed out as they should. Some people with very oily skin actually produce sebum that is extra sticky. (Hormones have a big role in causing oily skin.) When these two problems combine, the dead skin cells mix with oil and dirt to create a sebum plug, which is what causes clogged pores, also known as comedones.

When a comedone has an opening exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black—that’s a blackhead! When the comedone stays under the skin with no opening, it’s a whitehead. And when a comedone becomes infected and inflamed, it becomes a pimple. Cystic acne happens a bit differently and is more difficult to treat. The oil-producing glands actually rupture deep under the skin and cause major inflammation and infection. Each of these types of acne and blemishes require different treatments, which I’ll cover in future posts.

There’s nothing you can do to change the skin you’re born with, it’s mostly up to genetics whether you are normal, dry, oily, combination, acne-prone, or sensitive. And you can be pretty much any combination of those!  But there are some things you can do to help your skin stay healthy and clear, especially once you’ve targeted your specific skin concerns. Believe me, it took some serious trial-and-error to figure out what my skin needs, and I’m still learning!

So, now you know the basics. I’ll be doing some more in-depth posts on each skin type, some of my favorite products, and how to give any skin a healthy glow. 

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