In our pursuit of radiant skin, we often get stuck wondering things like “What should I be using on my skin?” or “What are my skin’s needs?”
When we are unsure what to do, it’s hard to move forward.
The good news is, you can easily bring order to the chaos by utilizing the not-so-new concept of the skin health pyramid. This blueprint is not just a roadmap; it's the cornerstone of your journey towards healthier and more beautiful skin
In this post, I’ll define the skincare pyramid and provide the 3 levels that will help your master your skincare. I hope that this will give you a roadmap so you can get started with your home skincare routine and work towards improving and future proofing your skin.
What is the The Skin Health and Beauty Pyramid?
The Skin Health Pyramid is a structured approach to organizing skincare into a hierarchy which starts with the basic skin issues and then progresses along with the skin’s additional needs.
The original model was published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology in April 2014.1 It was well received for its novel approach to cosmeceutical recommendations by dermatologists and skin care professionals. It was also highly applauded by patients for its simplicity.
The original pyramid was designed to organize skin care into a hierarchy starting with basic skin care issues affecting the superficial layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, and then proceeding into the deeper layers in an outside/inside approach.
In other words: It serves as the perfect, evidence-based foundational approach for your skin and beauty treatment regimens
The Base: Skin Health - Protection and Repair
At the very foundation of your skin's health lies the critical need for protection and repair.
Our skin faces more challenges than just the sun, so it's not ONLY about protecting ourselves from UV radiation; it's also key to safeguard our skin from various other external stressors. Think about air pollution, the blue light emitted by your digital devices, the effects of smoking, disrupted circadian rhythms, infrared radiation, and even the changes happening in your skin's microbiome.
These are all factors that can impact your skin's health and quality. Let’s dive in a little deeper.
At the base of the pyramid is the mighty sunscreen. Surprised? Of course not… Sunscreen is STILL your first line of defence against the harsh effects of UVA and UVB radiation. It shields you from the harmful rays that can damage your skin. But let's go a step further than sun protection.
Let's talk about antioxidants. These little wonders are like your skin's own defence system against free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). Free radicals cause cellular damage and in particular when it comes to the skin, they damage ou essential structural proteins such as collagen. Antioxidants like vitamin C, Vitamin E, green tea, polyphenols and many, many more, are your allies. They have the power to scavenge and reduce ROS levels, protecting your skin from oxidative damage. It's essential to ensure these antioxidants are stable in your skincare products to maximize their effectiveness.
And here's a fun fact – did you know that your skin has its own microbiome? It's like a bustling ecosystem of bacteria that covers your skin's surface. While we haven't precisely defined what a "normal" microbiome looks like, we do know that it varies based on factors like sex, age, body location, and immune status. UV radiation can mess with this delicate balance.
That's where prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic skincare products come into play.
Prebiotic skincare encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms, while probiotic products can contain live bacteria or ultrasound-inactivated bacterial extracts. Postbiotic products, on the other hand, contain non-viable bacterial products or by-products, like enzymes and peptides. It's all about nurturing a healthy microbiome to support your skin's well-being.
"Did you know that your skin has its own microbiome? It's like a bustling ecosystem of bacteria that covers your skin's surface...
All of these aspects are the basics we should be considering when it comes to the foundation of healthy skin.
The Middle: How to Improve Skin Quality. A Look at Skin Renewal (Moisturising, Exfoliation, and Cell Turnover)
As we ascend the pyramid, we enter the realm of renewal. This is where the magic happens – moisturization, exfoliation, and promoting healthy cell turnover. Picture this as the heart of your skincare routine, where your skin truly comes alive.
Moisturising is the foundation of this level. Many cosmeceutical products are designed around this basic principle: enhancing your skin's water content to combat fine lines caused by dehydration. But here's the kicker – moisturizers don't just provide hydration; they also play an active role. They work by reducing trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), essentially creating a protective shield on your skin's surface.
How do they do it? With ingredients that lock in moisture, allowing your skin to restore its natural water balance alongside humectants that draw water from the dermis to the epidermis. You will know about hyaluronic acid, one of the most recognized humectants for its incredible ability to retain water, however, my tip is to also look for others such as sodium PCA and glycerin which also play their part.
The best moisturizers strike a balance between occlusive agents that create a protective barrier and humectants that draw in moisture.
But even if your skin has an excellent barrier and enough water content, it can still appear dry and unattractive if it's not properly exfoliated. That's where alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) come in. AHAs like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid disrupt the ionic bonding between cells, encouraging them to slough off. The result? A smoother, more radiant complexion. It's like giving your skin a fresh start! The key here is balance; too much aggressive exfoliation can harm your skin's barrier and lead to dehydration.
Now, let's talk about my personal favourite - retinoids. These vitamin A derivatives are excellent for regulating the growth of epidermal cells and promoting cell differentiation. The retinoid family includes retinol, retinyl esters, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, and other newer synthetic forms. Retinyl palmitate is the most stable of the vitamin A esters, but it's not very biologically active. However, it can become active through enzymatic cleavage. Retinol, another common cosmeceutical retinoid, can be converted to retinoic acid, but only in small amounts by the skin. Treatment tolerance is often the issue with retinoids as irritation is often a side effect.
Key tip - start off low and slow and ALWAYS follow with a moisturiser.
The Pinnacle: Activation and Regeneration - Stimulating the Dermal layer with Peptides and More!
Welcome to the peak of our pyramid – activation and regeneration. This is where we take our skin health to the next level, focusing on dermal benefits and stimulating skin from within. This involves newer skincare ingredients such as peptides, growth factors and stem cells.
Peptides are like the building blocks of proteins, and they play a crucial role in this level. They can modulate receptors, activate enzymes, and regulate protein production. There are three main families of peptides: carrier peptides, signal peptides, and neurotransmitter peptides:
Carrier Peptides: Carrier peptides, are designed to bind to other ingredients and facilitate their transportation to where they are needed (for example there is a peptide that delivers copper, a trace element essential for healing, into wounds).
Signal Peptides: Signal peptides are your skin's best friends when it comes to boosting collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycan production. One of the most popular signal peptides is palmitoyl pentapeptide. This little champion stimulates the production of collagen I, III, and IV, making your skin look plump and youthful.
Neurotransmitter Peptides: Neurotransmitter peptides, on the other hand, work their magic by inhibiting the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction. This mimics the effects of botulinum toxin, reducing muscle contractions and minimizing wrinkles. Acetyl hexapeptide-3 is one example, and it's fantastic for achieving that smooth and youthful look.
Growth factors also play a significant role in skin rejuvenation. Growth factors like epidermal growth factor (EGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) can work wonders for your skin. However, there's a challenge as these molecules have a large molecular weight, making it tough for them to penetrate your skin. So, skincare formulations often include ingredients that enhance their delivery. You may find they they come at a premium price point as a result.
Stem Cells in Skin Care
Now, let's explore the fascinating world of stem cells. These are pluripotential cells capable of indefinite propagation in an undifferentiated state. Sounds impressive, right? Stem cells are present in various regions of your skin, including the hair follicle's bulge region, the epidermis, and the sebaceous gland. But here's the twist – live stem cells can't survive in your skincare products, especially those laden with preservatives. So, what do we do? We incorporate ingredients derived from stem cells into our skincare formulations. These derivatives have the potential to promote skin health and rejuvenation.
Other things to Consider: Using the Skin's Natural Rhythm
And here's a unique concept – the modulation of circadian rhythms. These rhythms are like the internal clock that governs various processes in your body. They're influenced by factors like the day-night cycle, hormone fluctuations, meals, sleep-wake patterns, adrenal gland activity, thyroid gland function, and clock genes. It turns out that circadian rhythms also impact your skin's health.
Picture this: during the day, your skin experiences the highest pH, increased sebum production, and greater thickness, but with lower cell proliferation. However, at night, your skin shifts gears. It focuses on DNA repair, cell proliferation, improved barrier permeability, enhanced skin penetration, and increased blood flow.
These diurnal variations in your skin's needs have given rise to a new concept in skincare and how and when we should use products to try to maximise benefits
Putting it All Together for Your Perfect Skincare Routine
There you have it! the 3 components of your home skincare regimen. I still believe the Skin Health Pyramid remains your trusted guide in the world of cosmeceutical skincare. It's the basis to starting to achieving your skin's full potential.
Of course it does not incorporate the plethora of professional clinic treatments that will enhance results further, however, when it comes to our home skincare regimes it serves a an essential reminder to address all three levels of the pyramid:
The base, where we focus on protection and repair.
The middle, where renewal through exfoliation, and healthy cell turnover takes centre stage.
The top, where activation and regeneration work their magic from within.
So, whether you're battling the sun's rays, quenching your skin's thirst, or exploring the latest advancements in skincare, remember that it's all about finding the perfect balance for your unique skin.
Here at Miriderma Skin + Wellness Clinic, we're dedicated to helping you get clear on exactly what your skin needs and if you have any questions or need personalized skincare advice, don't hesitate to reach out to our Bournemouth Skin Clinic.
Your skin's journey to a brighter future starts right here!
What’s next? Download The Ultimate Glow Guide
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