I’m sure a day hasn’t passed without you viewing one or more commercials that focus on products for the skin. Many manufacturers claim that their product will reduce the signs of aging, firm the skin, and the list goes on. But at what cost... I’m not referring to the cost of the product; I’m referring to the cost of our health.
The skin is the largest organ in the body. It consists of two layers the epidermis and the dermis. These layers form a barrier against, microbes, chemicals and dehydration. Although there is a barrier of protection, our skin is bombarded daily with various chemicals that are being absorbed by the skin and entering our bodies. What you apply on your skin daily may be harmful to your health.
As a person with fibromyalgia and chemical sensitivities, I’m constantly learning what I can and cannot use on my skin and hair. One mistake can place me on the sideline until I overcome the reaction to the product.
Recently I had an opportunity to sit down with Michele Grace, owner and founder of Grace Esthetics. Michele specializes in organic skin care. Michele’s expertise on the health of our skin is phenomenal.
Darlene Alexander: Ms. Grace what are some of the common problems your clients experience with the health of their skin?
Ms. Grace: They know there are things that they can do to look better, but they may not know how to research. They eventually gather bits and pieces of information regarding the health of their skin. By the time they come to me, most women from the age of 35 on up, the first thing I notice is sun damage…always. In my generation, most of the women use to apply mineral oil on their skin and hold aluminum foil and lay in the sun so they could basically broil. That was the thing to do back then, put mineral oil with iodine on your skin. I treat women who have a lot of sun damage, broken capillaries, hyper-pigmentation; which is a result of sun damage, and adult acne.
When the skin is not cleaned properly, there will be a dull appearance. Cleaning the skin properly is difficult, because we put creams with oils on our face. Getting the oil out of the pores is very difficult. Here’s what we do, we put oil on top of old oil. What happens to oil? It goes rancid; it creates free radicals and it causes the skin to breakdown. Getting the skin clean was one of the first things I ever learned. Approximately the first fifteen minutes of my facials is spent on getting the skin clean. Even if I’m administering a microdermabrasion treatment, I’m still focused on cleaning the skin properly.
When we apply chemical based products to our skin, over time unless we’re exfoliating our skin, our skin becomes thick. This is apparent in skin that is damaged by the sun too. This thickness makes it hard for products to penetrate the skin; therefore leaving the skin dull. The dead skin cells on the face may have a yellowish, greenish, or grayish appearance. These discolorations depend upon your lifestyle; diet, do you smoke, your nationality and how well you take care of your skin. As far as cleaning the skin, most women do not know how to take care of their skin. That’s the number one thing I teach women about skin care is how to clean their face.
When women have adult acne, it’s because of all the synthetic estrogens that they ingest or breathe. What happens is these estrogens create abnormalities in the endocrine system. Whenever I see women that have breakouts around the jaw line, is always due to a lack of progesterone. This usually happens when we breathe in smog, anything petro, herbicides and pesticides. Also we have propylene glycols, parabens, petrochemicals these are used as preservatives in a lot of drugstore and department store products. As we put these products on our skin, our skin absorbs them and they go into our bodies, and basically these chemicals are endocrine disrupters.
I see a lot of rosacea acne and this condition is usually associated with the person’s diet. Rosacea is a sign of inflammation, not only in the face but the body too. The skin is an eliminative organ, so if we have a bunch of things going on with our skin, it’s telling us we’re struggling.
DA: Why is organic skin care products considered better than other products?
Ms. Grace: When I first started in this industry in 1990 and then I opened my business in 1994; I became passionate in learning what I was applying to my client’s skin. Skin is not only an eliminative organ but is also absorbs, it absorbs whatever you put on it. When I learned that most of the products I was using on my clients would exasperate their cancer and arthritis, and cause their skin to prematurely age; for a while I thought I was going to have to leave the industry. I switched from looking in the beauty industry for products to the alternative health industry. There I began to find very few, a couple of products that I would call “clean.” Even listed on organic skin products it would say, “Organic” and then it would have maybe two or three organic ingredients listed and the rest were junk. That is why it’s good to have an esthetician because a lot of us have studied and we know what products are healthy for the skin. You have endocrine disrupters in products, formaldehyde, petrochemicals, and chemicals that are going to dry out your skin. Over and over again I’m being asked about the effects of body lotion. Instead of moisturizing the skin, it’s actually drying the skin. Some manufacturers use ingredients like alcohol in their lotions, that ingredient dries the skin. When a person applies lotion to their skin, they have to apply more because their skin is still dry. By repeating this process, they are drying the skin further and causing the skin to age.
We have to be advocates for our bodies. We have the availability of the internet to conduct research, so there’s no excuse. You can even conduct some of your research on some of the governmental websites. You need to know what is safe and what is harmful. There is little we can do about the chemicals we breathe on a daily basis, but we can do something about the chemicals in products we put in and on our bodies. In terms of educating ourselves and being advocates for our bodies…it’s crucial. When someone comes to me, the first thing I’m going to do is educate them; that’s if they want to hear it; about the products they are putting on their skin.
Unlike ingredients that can cause harm to our bodies, with microdermabrasion and peels in order to obtain the full benefit of these procedures; there is a certain amount of trauma that will occur to the skin. This trauma will allow the skin to revitalize and heal itself.
DA: We know vitamins are vital to our health. How do dietary supplements benefit the health of our skin?
Ms. Grace: When you use antioxidants like vitamin C, you see dramatic changes in the appearance of the skin. Antioxidants can stop free radicals that occur from rancid oils; that are present in the pores. Using a supplement with the combination of Lipoic acid and Acetyl-L-carnitine are very good for the skin. Minerals are essential for hydration. If you were to drink 8 glasses of water a day and your skin is still dry, you are mineral deficient. The minerals you should start with are magnesium, potassium and calcium. We are a nation that is deficient in magnesium and potassium.
Our diets play a major role in the health of our skin. The closer we get to eating whole foods the healthier we will be. Our skin will have a natural glow. The opposite occurs when we eat too much sugar; especially high fructose corn syrup, it contributes to bad health. White sugar is better than high fructose corn syrup. There are plenty of sugar alternatives that are on the market. You can use natural sugars as well; look for the kind that hasn’t been bleached. Also I find a lot of people don’t eat enough of good, clean protein. Now you can get clean, healthy protein through so many sources, protein shakes and smoothies.
When I notice skin breakouts I ask the person, “What are you eating?” If a person eats a diet in high, simple-carbohydrates this creates a lot of problems in the skin. That’s the first thing I ask teenagers with acne, “Do you drink sodas, eat chips, white bread, muffins and cookies?” Inevitably they have a sweet tooth and that’s when we get into fungal types of infections. That’s when I need to ask questions pertaining to their gut. Have they been on antibiotics? Anyone who has been on antibiotics needs to take a probiotic. Probiotics are absolutely necessary for good health.
A big problem I face as an esthetician is convincing people they need to change their diet. If a person will not change their diet, they are heading for disaster.
DA: Does the water we drink play an important role in healthy skin? What about the water we use on our face and bodies should we be concerned with the toxins in our water supply?
Ms. Grace: Quality water is essential for the health of our skin. Taking a bath or showering in water that contains chlorine is terrible if you have a thyroid problem. Drinking tap water which contains chlorine can shut down the thyroid. Also chlorine acts like an antibiotic; it goes in and kills both good and bad bacteria in the gut. Regarding bottled water, it’s important that you look at the source of that water and where it’s being kept in your home. Do you keep the bottles in a cool area or are they being stored in high temperatures for a long period of time? If the bottles are being stored in an area that is hot, the heat along with the plastic will generate synthetic estrogen. As you drink this water, you’re getting a dose of synthetic estrogen.
DA: Do you have any upcoming events or projects that our viewers may be interested in attending?
Ms. Grace: I’ll be offering a reasonably priced package for a radiancy treatment. I always have my packages for the microdermabrasion; where I offer 4 treatments for $200, which is a savings of $100. Once every 3 months. I’ll offer a package where they will receive the fifth treatment free.
DA: For more information about Michele Grace and her services you can visit her website: www.graceestheticsskincare.com . Grace Esthetics is located at 3228 Riverside Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95818, telephone: 916-446-8939.