But what causes inflammation and what is it? Can skincare cause inflammation – and if so what skincare ingredients should you avoid? And do certain foods cause inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, infection, or irritation.
Whilst acute inflammation is necessary for healing – chronic inflammation will have negative effects on the body causing skin issues.
Research has shown that inflammation is the root cause of most skin issues – from acne to eczema to premature ageing.
So, what causes skin inflammation?
Skin inflammation is caused through internal issues such as diet and stress.
It is also caused by external irritants such as pollution, UV rays (in the middle of the day – morning and late afternoon rays are good for giving us a good healthy dose of vitamin D), and harsh chemicals involving skincare and house cleaning chemicals.
An unhealthy diet is the most major cause of skin inflammation and internal inflammation, basically an inflamed skin means your insides are inflamed.
Symptoms that you are suffering from internal inflammation are – headaches/migraines, painful joints, gut issues, hormonal issues, stress and anxiety, bloating, on and off ill health, cancer, diabetes, circulatory issues, psoriasis, eczema, acne, rosacea, diarrhoea, or constipation.
Stress is one of the worst offenders for causing inflammation – it causes skin breakouts, eczema, belly fat, premature ageing, hormonal imbalance, sleep issues which then cause more belly fat and slower metabolism, more skin issues and hormonal imbalance – and then you stress more about how terrible you look – causing more stress and more of the above!
Basically, this becomes the cycle:
First – Stress and anxiety
Second -Gut issues
Third -Hormone issues
Fourth – Inflammation
Fifth – Skin issues
Sixth – You trying everything to heal your acne, rosacea, congestion, eczema, psoriasis, melasma, premature ageing, sagging skin, bags under the eyes, puffy eyes, skin infections, belly fat, and so on.
Seventh – Causing more stress and anxiety.
Eight etc………Continued skin issues and slower metabolism.
Unfortunately, until you improve your diet and stress levels – you won’t be able to fix your inflamed skin.
Symptoms of skin inflammation
Acne is the most well-known and most obvious symptom of skin inflammation. The inflamed red skin, clogged pores filled with oil, bacteria, dead skin cells and pollution makes for the most marvellous environment for more bacteria to grow. If you strip the skin with foaming cleansers, salicylic acid, and drying ointments, and you are helping the progress along – decreasing the skin’s acid mantle (where all of the microflora thrives) and letting in more bacterial, creating more dead dehydrated skin cells – causing more acne.
Eczema is nearly as common as acne now – and it too is caused due to skin inflammation – but it is mainly a symptom of internal inflammation brought on by diet, stress, gut, and hormonal issues – brought on by the aforementioned.
Rosacea is extremely common in men and women in their late 30s and onwards – although it is becoming more prevalent in younger men and women as well.
Rosacea is brought on by an inflammatory diet, stress, gut issues, and as we age hormonal changes.
Chronic inflammation leads to premature ageing of the skin. When skin is exposed to irritants, cigarette smoke, pollution, chemical skincare, chemical shampoo, laundry detergents, house cleaning products and a inflammatory diet, alcohol, processed foods, sugar etc – it triggers the production of free radicals which damages collagen and elastin fibres that lead to wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
How to reduce inflammation for glowing skin
Reducing inflammation is the key to promoting healthy, glowing, radiant skin. Unfortunately, it cannot be done by treating the skin from outside alone. And the problem is – many skincare products can actually cause more inflammatory issues than reducing it.
Products containing chemicals are on the top of the list – the worst being those whose main ingredients are;
- Petrolatum (petrol) – found in many products which tout that they are good for dry skin and irritated skin – popular in lip balms – they suffocate the skin so that it cannot breathe – and increase dehydration.
- Alcohol – seen in skincare ingredients as ethanol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol – they not only dry out the surface of the skin – but they damage the skin’s protective layer whose function it is to defend the skin from harmful bacteria and toxins. Alcohol also inhibits the ability for beta- carotene to convert into vitamin A which is vital for cell rejuvenation.
- Artificial fragrances – which are made from coal – they cause clogging, irritation, and inflammation in the skin- the Everything Skin Range uses only essential oils as fragrance.
The terrifying issue when you read product containers is knowing what you can and cannot use on your skin when you have no idea what that word is (some ingredients are 100% natural but have been engineered to work more effectively than their natural counterpart such as Olivem – a 100% natural derived emulsifier from olive oil.
For a comprehensive list of what to avoid read what chemicals you should avoid. It is an easy-to-read article – worth saving the link in your phone when you go shopping for skincare or makeup!
Besides changing your skincare to natural and organic skincare (such as the Everything skin Range)you need to look at your diet.
Diet after stress is the main cause for all forms of inflammation – internal as well as external.
For an overall approach, start off by removing the following ingredients/foods from of your diet.
What NOT to eat:
The following foods are those you have to completely remove from your diet – until all of your inflammatory markers (signs) have gone.
- Dairy – all forms – milk, cheese, chocolate, yoghurt (If you are sitting there thinking – yoghurt is full of probiotics so must be great for your skin – what are you talking about!?@#$%^& Sorry – I choose to differ. Most yoghurts are made and then they throw in probiotics in the end which means that the probiotics are not natural to the yoghurt, and not suitable to treat your acne. Unfortunately, all forms of dairy can trigger inflammation in the body. If you struggle to give up dairy – after 6 weeks of being on an anti-inflammatory diet -try drinking A2 milk as it is from non-genetically modified cows – it is the original type of milk our grandparents used to drink – easier to digest. You can also try sheep’s cheese, yoghurt (plain, no sugar) or goat – to see if you can assimilate these better than the modified cow’s milk.
- Refined sugar – white sugar, caster sugar, brown sugar, granulated sugar, dark sugar, icing sugar, sugary drinks, so called health foods containing sugar – all cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which can trigger the production of inflammatory molecules.
- Processed foods – chips, so called healthy snacks, cookies, takeaway frozen meals (usually laced with dairy, emulsifiers, gluten, and sugar, are also often high in corn syrup, canola oil (rapeseed oil) and other unhealthy fats – all which cause inflammation in the body.
- Gluten – can be found in pretty well all processed foods – but is found in anything which contains wheat, barley, rye and oats. Gluten has become more inflammatory since these grains have been genetically modified to grow faster, be more drought resistant, and mould resistant. Oats originally were not on the gluten intolerant list – but they are now often grown in wheat fields as a rotation crop. The chemical sprays used on these grains such as round up – could be the cause that these grains cause inflammation in the body, so if you struggle to give up gluten – try swapping to organic flour, organic rye, barley, and oats or try spelt bread, or kamut bread which are made from ancient grains. But I recommend you first start on an inflammatory diet for at least 6 weeks before trying these options out.
What TO eat:
- We need to look at eating a diet loaded with whole foods, (ideally organic as the chemicals sprayed on our foods cause inflammation) – high in vegetables, nuts, fruits (in moderation – fruit is loaded with fruit sugars and causes insulin spiking which in turn can cause inflammation).
- Healthy fats such as flaxseed oil, hemp oil, pumpkin seed oil, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil. Or consume the actual food – hemp seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, coconuts, olives, and avocados – these help lower inflammation in the body and help your skin glow!
- Ocean fished fish – not farmed fish, organic free-range eggs, small amounts of free range or organic chicken and even smaller amounts of grass-fed lamb and beef – again – ideally organic.
- If you like to eat red meat – the best meat is wild animal meat – for a few reasons. They eat what they forage for – which means they eat a variety of healthy herbs and plants – what they eat, we eat. They will not have eaten grass which potentially can have pesticides in it.
They have not gone through an abattoir – which means their bodies are not loaded with adrenals from fear, which in turn we eat.
- Whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa are a good source of plant protein and fibre which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Legumes such as beans and lentils are a good source of plant protein which helps repair tissues in the skin and body. Tofu, and other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi – are prebiotic foods which help feed the probiotic bacteria to help maintain a healthy gut.
Raw honey helps heal the gut, boosts melatonin, contains healing enzymes, and is loaded with amino acids, if the container doesn’t say RAW then it isn’t raw – it is heat processed and doesn’t contain any living enzymes anymore.
Book a glowing skin consultation if you would like one on one help dealing with your inflammation.
Thank you for reading my blog!
I am Yvette van Schie, I am a holistic beauty therapist, skin nutritionist, skincare developer and makeup artist. I am passionate about sharing real beauty advice with a whack of reality.
For over 30 years I have worked with the best in the beauty and health industry as a trainer, educator and product formulator and I still do – so my knowledge is diverse – I am not blinkered when sharing my information with you because everyone I speak to shares what they know, and I turn it into easy to digest information because I want my readers to feel empowered to make their own decisions and to feel that they are fully in control of their beauty and well being.