Active treatments get all the attention. Yet did you know that even the best therapy can be undermined by lack of proper prevention? Or that in many cases, prevention alone can clear up a skin problem? Read on to learn more about the power of prevention.
Why is prevention so important?
As with all medical and health issues, prevention is as important as (in some cases more important than) than treatment.Some very basic, common-sense examples: eating right and exercising regularly are better than heart surgery. Not smoking is better than chemotherapy for lung cancer. Proper daily brushing and flossing is better than dental surgery or early prostheses. The early, regular use of sunscreen is better than treating skin cancer.The same applies to non life-threatening skin issues (aging, dark spots, acne, etc.): the less damage, the less to correct and the higher the chances of a successful treatment.Great skin doesn’t stop at the proper regimen or treatment — just as heart health doesn’t stop after surgery; a proper diet and lifestyle need to be maintained. This is why at VMV HYPOALLERGENICS®, prevention isn’t an afterthought, it’s a way of being. At VMV, hypoallergenicity isn’t a nice perk, it’s a lifestyle.
Why Isn’t The Right Skin Therapy Enough To Solve My Skin Concerns?
Because even the best treatment may fail if you keep using products that cause the problem you’re trying to address. This would be like working out five times a week but smoking a pack a day. For example:
- Reliable acne therapy may not work if you keep using hair care, soaps, or other products with pore cloggers or allergens (while allergens don’t clog pores the way comedogens do, they can irritate pores, leading to an infection = acne).
- A proven lightening ingredient may fail if it is in a formulation that also contains photoallergens (ingredients that can react with light to cause darkening) such as fragrances, dyes and many preservatives.
- Anti-aging therapy may not work if the skin is continuously exposed to allergens and irritants or environmental factors (like the sun) that dry it out, denature it, or cause cell damage.
- Eczema and psoriasis may continue to flare-up if you keep exposing skin to triggers such as allergens that you, in particular, are sensitive to.
- In all cases, poor nutrition can work against effective therapies. Highly processed (white bread, white flour, most pre-packaged snacks and drinks) and junk food and drink are pro-inflammatory (acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis are inflammatory conditions, and inflammation is known to hasten aging). Lack of regular exercise, stress, and sleeping less than 7-8 hours a night are also proven to be inflammatory.
How do I prevent skin problems?
1) Sun and Light Protection. Daily.
Practice regular sun and light protection from an early age. If you’ve crossed that bridge (you’re a recovering tanner, for example), start daily sun and light protection immediately and get your kids started as early as possible. Sun and light damage is cumulative — the more you avoid exposure and protect yourself, the less the risk of damage.
Sun and light exposure (even to indoor lights) causes a whole host of problems, both external and internal, from aging to discolorations, skin cancer and even immuno-suppressive disorders.
2) Choose Validated Hypoallergenic, Non-Comedogenic.
When choosing personal care products — from head to toe — we recommend that you always look for validated (proven) hypoallergenicity and non-comedogenicity.
Why is “hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic” important for all personal care products? Because many products not usually associated with the skin can cause or exacerbate skin problems — from acne to allergies, dryness, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, dark spots and aging. For example:
- Shampoos and conditioners with comedogenic ingredients can trickle down skin when you sweat and clog pores. This usually manifests in acne on the forehead, cheeks, neck, and back.
- Hair care and styling products with allergens can trickle down skin when you sweat and cause dark spots, itching, redness or other irritations on the skin as well as the scalp. And while they may not clog pores the way comedogens do, allergens can cause acne by irritating the pores and causing an infection.
- Some products contain halogens that can cause acne or rashes around the mouth and chin (peri-oral dermatitis). If you have peri-oral contact dermatitis, you may need to both switch to a halogen-free toothpaste such as our Essence Skin-Saving Simple-Gentle Toothpaste, as well as cut down on halogens in other areas of exposure, such as foods, water, or materials with iodides, bromides, chlorides, and the like. For more information on peri-oral contact dermatitis, click here.
- Antiperspirants, soaps, or powders with fragrance or other allergens and irritants can cause underarm irritations, bumps (granulomas), or skin darkening (fragrance is a top allergen and can also be a photo-allergen, meaning it can react with light to cause skin discolorations). Other known photo-allergens include dyes and preservatives.
Any product that has irritants or allergens can cause inflammation, one of the major causes of aging.
The best way to achieve your skin goals is by combining prevention with therapy. To find a regimen that suits your skin needs and skin goals best, we suggest:
- Clicking here to check out some of our pre-set regimens, or Ask Us for suggestions (or give us a call at 212-217-2762 for more personalized care),
- Clicking here to learn more about Vx Facials + Skin Services
- Browsing our Hair, Body + Bath, Sun and Light, Mom and Baby, and skin-safe Makeup for preventive therapy.
IMPORTANT: If you have very sensitive skin, a history of reacting to skincare or cosmetics and/or have eczema, psoriasis, rosacea or chronically dry skin, ask your doctor for a patch test. If you’re in the USA, check out the American Contact Dermatitis Society’s directory for dermatologists who offer patch tests.
3) Be Healthy.
- Cut out junk food: chips, sodas, most pre-packaged juices and snacks.
- Replace highly processed “white” bread, pasta, syrups, sugars with their whole, darker, rawer alternatives. For example, choose whole wheat, brown, nutty bread over white bread; whole wheat pasta over regular pasta; pure organic maple syrup or coconut syrup over other sweeteners; coconut sugar (excellent for its low glycemic index and nutritional value, too) over regular sugar; coconut water (unsweetened) over energy drinks, etc.
- Up your intake of small, oily fish like sardines and herring, as well as raw vegetables and fruits.
- Sleep 7-8 hours a night.
- Commit to stress management.
- Exercise daily. You don’t need power sessions every day but do something for 30-45 minutes (or High-Intensity Circuit Training for less minutes) 5-7 days a week.
Does internal prevention (proper diet, stress management, exercise) help my skin?
Definitely. An ever growing number of studies consistently shows that several skin and internal conditions that seem unrelated may actually share certain “pathogenetic pathways.”
“Comorbidities” refers to the presence of multiple diseases or disorders occurring together with a primary disease. For instance, patients with psoriasis (the primary disease) often develop diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and hypertension (the comorbid diseases). While these conditions are apparently unrelated, studies show that they have a common pathogenetic pathway, by which they are now thought to be inter-related. Sleep deprivation, stress and pro-inflammatory foods like processed foods have been shown to be linked to obesity and other health problems but also acne, aging, psoriasis, eczema and other skin problems.
In addition, your skin is often one of the first, most visible signs of the state of your internal systems. Before MRIs, bloodwork or other diagnostic procedures, your skin can indicate the possibility of inflammation, infection and even specific diseases like diabetes or a thyroid problem. If your internal health is suffering, there’s a good chance your skin (and even hair, in the form of temporary hair loss) will show it.
The opposite it true, too: eating healthily, exercising regularly, sleeping 7-8 hours a day, and managing stress all show up on skin.
Click here to learn how hypoallergenicity can help with aging concerns.
Click here to read about stress, inflammation, aging and other skin concerns.
Click here to learn more about the VH-Rating System.
Click here to read the VH-Rating System’s proven efficacy.
Click here to learn about the VH-Rating System’s validity as a method for substantiating hypoallergenic claims.