What most beauty experts cannot tell you is that a beautiful face and glowing skin depend primarily on the health of your digestive and elimination systems-that is the body’s built-in system to get rid of wastes and toxins. THIS is probably the greatest secret to having beautiful, clear and healthy skin. And yet, most skin care products and advice focus solely on targeting the skin from the outside. This is completely backwards.
Believe it or not, your skin is actually the body’s largest organ of elimination. Your desire to be beautiful is actually dependent on your commitment to your overall health and vitality, and having functional organs of elimination is a requirement of both. Clear, radiant skin is simply a reflection of your underlying good health. The healthiest and most beautiful skin is apparent when the body’s detoxification process is working and toxins can be eliminated through the digestive tract, kidneys, skin, and lungs.
Two little known detox strategies that you are probably not doing to improve your glowing skin are dry skin brushing and sauna. But after reading this, you may want to start!
Dry Skin Brushing
One of the great benefits to having our largest organ on the outside of our body is that we can utilize it very easily. Our skin serves as a direct link to our other organs, and can be easily accessed to either nourish or detoxify our body. But on the flip side is that we also absorb more impurities through our skin than any other organ in our bodies. This is simply not adequately addressed enough, but is one of the reasons I am so passionate about using non-toxic skin care products, and care in deciding which fabrics to let next to your skin.
What does the skin absorb?
I am passionate about educating others about the endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, and carcinogens found in personal care products that contribute to poor health. I have written extensively about that in other articles and have a digital class that teaches people how to identity and avoid them, and how to do a Beauty Detox. However, this article is about detoxifying that which is already present in your body.
The ability of the skin to absorb substances is already known. We use transdermal patches for certain medications, a hot Epson salt bath relaxes our muscles, a drop of essential oil placed on the foot will travel to the head about 10 minutes later.
The skin’s ability to excrete toxins, however, is not as well emphasized. The skin is sometimes referred to as the third lung or the third kidney, Up to two pounds of waste are eliminated every day through our skin. This is why the skin is often the very first place an imbalance in the body may appear as the skin tries desperately to eliminate waste. Eruptions, blemishes, rashes, odors and even colors may appear.
The age old practice of daily skin brushing is a method of aiding the skin in this detoxifying process. Skin brushing, when performed daily and consistently, is a marvelous aid in having soft, beautiful, and blemish free skin all over your body, not just on your face. It is easy to do, requires minimal investment, and feels good too.
The substances that have been analyzed that fall off the body during skin brushing are not only dead skin cells, which we would expect, but discharges, urea, sodium chloride, sebum, and metabolic wastes.
Dry skin brushing also addresses the lymphatic system which is essential to removing wastes throughout the body. Indeed, that is its function. And yet, unlike our circulatory system there is no pump (the heart) to keep the fluid moving. Your lymph system moves through the body picking up waste and excretes it through the skin, kidneys, and other organs of elimination. Do you have trouble with cellulite? Cellulite is a condition of trapped toxins underneath the skin that is greatly helped by proper lympathic circulation.
Exercise is one way to get the lymph moving. But as we’ll see, daily skin brushing does as well by jump starting the lymphatic drainage system, which allow wastes to be excreted regularly through the skin.
Dry Skin Brushing Benefits:
- Tightens skin
- Exfoliates top layer of dead skin cells, revealing newer, radiant skin
- Cleanses lymph system
- Helps with cellulite
- Strengthens the immune system
- Stimulates circulation
- Results in softer skin
Directions for Dry Skin Brushing:
- Buy a long handled natural bristle brush (available at health food stores)
- Brush skin while it is dry, this means before your shower
- Always brush towards the heart
- Start with your feet, on your soles, brush next your ankles, calves and thighs using light upward strokes
- Brush upwards on your stomach and buttocks, always sweeping towards the heart.
- Start on the back of the hands and brush to shoulders.
- Lightly brush the neck in a downward direction.
- Take a shower.
One of the mainstays of detoxification is sauna therapy. Saunas have been used for hundreds of years in various cultures to promote health via sweating. In the Scandinavian countries, for example, inhabitants typically will have a sauna in the home and it is used at least weekly by the whole family for health promotion. In other cultures, such as Native Americans, this took the form of the sweat lodge ceremony, where intense sweating was accompanied by spiritual cleansing as well.
How does sauna detoxify from a physiological standpoint? Saunas produce thermal stress or load to the body which initiates an autonomic nervous system response that increases peripheral circulation from 5-10% of cardiac output to a maximum of 60-70%. This results in perspiration, with some people being able to excrete nearly 2 liters per hour. As sweat is a primary route of excretion of toxins from the body, sauna therapy is recognized as a safe and effective way to promote and maintain health.
The increase in circulation also brings more oxygen and nutrients to tissues, while also carrying away wastes. Documented substances found in sweat from people undergoing sauna therapy include toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel, lead, aluminum; uranium, solvents, polychorinated byphenyls (PCBs), Bisphenol A, and phthalates. The last two substances are found in many common personal care products, and are considered hormone disruptors.
As far as the skin goes, the increased circulation, perfusion of oxygen and nutrients, and elimination of sweat and toxins provides many benefits to the skin. Most of my patients report smoother, softer skin after beginning a sauna protocol. Sauna is particularly good for psoriasis, a skin condition that is difficult to treat, and eczema, which is very common. A study published in Dermatology reported that sauna therapy was found to result in a more stable epidermal barrier function and an increase in stratum corneum hydration. Skin epidermal barrier function is critically important to our skin at any age, and the breakdown of this barrier for any reason causes problems such as rashes, eruptions, dry skin, and poor wound healing.
As a bonus, infrared sauna has been shown to increase collagen and elastin by stimulating skin cells. In one study of women, a six-month sauna period produced improvements in roughness and tightness, skin color tone, and wrinkles. However, no improvement was noted in age spots.
Regular use of a sauna is a health promoting therapy that not only rids us of our continually increasing load of toxicants in our body, but it is also relaxing, reduces blood pressure, oxygenates our tissues, and reduces pain and muscle stiffness, and can improve our skin’s appearance.
It would be a mistake to overlook detoxification as a secret method to obtain glowing skin. These two methods will not only help your skin look radiant, but will help your health and vitality. The future of beauty IS the convergence of beauty and wellness!
Dr. Anne Marie Fine is a practicing doctor, award-winning researcher, author and highly sought after national and international speaker based in Newport Beach, CA. Her focus is on environmental medicine; she is especially sensitive to the weighty effects of today’s myriad toxicants from personal care products on developing fetuses, babies, children and adults.
She has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and speaks nationally and internationally on environmental medicine, epigenetics, toxicants in personal care products and other topics. She currently serves as Director of Education on the board of directors of the Naturopathic Academy of Environmental Medicine (NAEM). As well, she serves as a science adviser for the website www.madesafe.org, an organization that provides America’s first comprehensive human health-focused certification for nontoxic products that crosses consumer categories.
Dr. Fine is also the Founder & C.E.O. of Fine Natural Products, LLC, a company dedicated to formulating non-toxic skin care products and educational information designed to create a healthier world for all.
Dr. Fine graduated with high honors and obtained her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. Armed with a Bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Notre Dame, she enjoyed a successful career as an executive in corporate finance before making the radical discovery that natural medicine solved her health issues. Feeling this was way more powerful than mere number crunching, she left her job to pursue a higher calling.