“Skin Fatigue” – I wonder what’s that? I hear you ask.
Well, here’s some things I learned about our skin and why we may feel that sometimes, some skincare doesn’t deliver what they promise, or why our skin may just not be receptive to certain skincare. I’ll try to distill the science of what I’ve learned from listening to a couple of scientists during my trip to Sydney with Olay 🙂
I’ll allow that the take away is quite Olay-centric which is to be expected, but a lot of the sciencey bits made sense so I’ll share those 🙂 So, what’s that about skin and energy then? How does our skin get tired and how does that affect how we look?
Left: Dr. John Oblong, P&G Right: Prof Mark Birch-Machin, University of Newcastle UK
By way of preface, this was on the fringe of the 6th Asia and Oceania Conference on Photobiology which is the study of the effect of sunlight on human health including its benefits and detrimental effects. Thankfully, I might add, I wasn’t required to sit through the actual conference or I might have been that rude participant snoozing away at the back. That wouldn’t have been very impressive would it? 😛
Skin energy drainers
During an insightful and oft-times amusing presentation by Prof Mark Birch-Machin and also Dr. John Oblong in a closed session, we learned that photobiology research has shown that sunlight, whilst beneficial to us for producing Vitamin D and keeping us feeling happy and sunny (literally) can also be detrimental to our health and our skin. Now, many of us already know this.
That’s why we slather on our sunscreens everyday, rain or shine to protect ourselves from the harmful UV rays, which are known to cause aging, pigmentation and generally, bad skin. Well, you ARE applying sunscreen daily aren’t you?
But other than the sun, Prof Mark Birch-Machin also shared that in the study of Cellular Bioenergenetics, research has also found that our skin loses energy through other means, which in terms of beauty, means that our skin starts looking dull, gets dehydrated and ages more quickly. These skin bioenergy drainers are:-
- Stress – This could be the mildest thing, stressing over what to wear for a date, or work stresses.
- Diet – So, it’s true what they say – you are what you eat. So if you eat junk food or foods high in sugar, skin energy levels deteriorate more quickly and if you eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and a balanced diet, you get better skin. The science does support this theory!
- Pollution – This is an external stress on our skin that we may not notice a lot. But if you go to a place where the air is cleaner and fresher, your skin looks better. If you go where it is highly polluted, then skin does look worse. This explains why in cities, where pollution levels are higher, we can expect to experience more breakouts or dull looking skin than if you were out in the clean country air. When I was in Shanghai a couple of years back, my skin was horrible! A good excuse to move to the country, folks 😛
- UV Radiation – This is well known and by now, most of us know to block this with sunscreen or our dressing. If you need more proof, Prof Mark who does research on whales (how cool is that?!) explained that whales actually get a tan when they swim closer to the surface in summer! Now that’s one bit of trivia you don’t come across often 😉 I asked if there is a higher incidence of skin cancer among whales then, since they clearly don’t apply sunscreen or sunblock but there was no answer. I think I stumped them for a bit 😛
What happens when skin loses energy or skin energy is low?
When energy is low, our cells become less efficient. Pretty much like us. When I’m low on energy, I am pretty darned inefficient. My messy house is testament to this because I’m just too tired to clear up as often or as efficiently as I like 😛
Ditto our skin cells. When the energy in our skin cells is low then:-
- they don’t eliminate melanin as efficiently resulting in uneven skin tone
- they can’t retain water as well resulting in dry and dehydrated skin
- they have a slow response time in synthesising collagen resulting in loss of firmness and elasticity on skin
- they don’t process free radicals efficiently resulting in skin damage
Basically, the energy drainers are making us age more quickly and look older faster. Never thought of it in that light did you?
The Skin Fatigue Theory
So, this loss of skin energy and the energy drainers are basically what contributes to the “Skin Fatigue Theory”. Basically, your skin just gets tired. And whilst skincare can help in boosting energy, it takes specific ingredients and sufficient levels of such ingredients to combat these energy drainers.
Our lifestyles can affect our skin
What we need therefore, are skincare that protects our cells and recharges them with energy so they work more efficiently. I asked Prof Mark if this loss of energy has a co-relation to our lifestyles.
For example, I noticed that if I’m hardworking and exercise more often (I go through exercise in fits and bursts) and eat more healthy foods my skin generally looks better, no matter what skincare I use. If I don’t exercise as much, or start indulging in too much junk food, then I do find I need more upkeep.
Prof Mark confirmed that there is a co-relation. If you exercise more, naturally your body’s energy levels are higher and this will help boost your cell energy levels as well, but to protect from external aggressors, we need to use skincare that works for us, so the take away is, if you want better skin, be sure to exercise, stay healthy and use skincare that works for you 😛
New cells do not necessarily mean better skin
We also know that our skin cells renew every 28 days or so, so I asked Prof Mark if these new skin cells might perform better. After all, they’re new right?
Well, not really, Professor Mark explained. These new cells are epidermal cells on the surface of the skin. However, fibroblast that makes collagen, found on the lower surface of our skin doesn’t regenerate once it breaks down, and it will, with the external aggressors and with age. So, that’s where skincare products can help maintain or protect this fibroblast so you have firmer skin.
Olay, of course, uses niacinamide which is a well known anti-oxidant that is now recognised as being an efficient antioxidant and protecting and reinforcing skin cells. But I also probed and found out that what I’d learned from the Cellular Bioenergenetics talk is that the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II (The new ANR2) operates on a similar principle as well! ANR2 explains their product using the circadian rhythm – sleep and it’s effects but when I probed Prof. Mark about this, he agreed that the circadian rhythm theory has its merits as well and a product that helps boost skin energy while we sleep and are at rest does have merit. I admit that was a bit sneaky of me, but I had to know if there was merit behind what I was told about ANR2 and who better to ask than a scientist 😀
Some skincare may not be working hard enough to replenish or boost your skin energy levels
Remember when we talked about our skincare graveyard and how some products just didn’t work for us, leaving aside those that broke us out? Some just don’t seem to do anything. This, Dr. John Oblong explains may be due to the ingredients in the skincare not doing enough to protect and boost our skin energy levels. And this is true also in prestige skincare. Not all prestige skincare works because they may be pricey but may not have what it takes and I experience this myself.
It’s like giving a tired man plain water as opposed to Red Bull I guess 😛 The former helps him rehydrate but doesn’t give him the energy he needs, while the latter gets him up and going. So, even if you pump him with Perrier water, it’s just water. It’s not going to do anything to his energy levels.
So that’s the science behind why a skincare may or may not deliver the results you expect to see when you use it. According to the scientists, there could be a very simple reason. Your skin could just be tired and no one’s helping to boost its energy levels!
What skincare ingredients should I use?
One ingredient that does do what it claims (and this is agreed and proven to work) is Niacinamide which is used extensively in Olay products. However, I don’t think this alone will give you that brand new bouncy skin you are expecting. There are a whole host of other ingredients which work in tandem – Retinol, Vitamin C, AHA/BHA, Vitamin E, Resveratrol, Grape Seed, Linoleic Acid – are some that come to mind. These ingredients are proven to work in an anti-aging capacity and as with everything in life, we need a variety. Who knows what other new ingredient is out there too!
That said however, I also believe in using what suits you, your lifestyle, your wallet and your ease to replenish. Ultimately, no matter what the scientists tell us, we are individuals and not everything will work for everyone. Some people are more sensitive to some ingredients than others, no matter how good they are, so don’t be upset because you can’t use a highly raved product. Just move on and find one that works for you. Use something you can find locally that you can afford easily, instead of something expensive that can only be found overseas because with skincare, you need to replenish, and what’s the good of a skincare that only works for that short while that you’re using it eh?
What’s most important is that you see the results and that means you don’t end up with a skincare graveyard 🙂
Do you notice the effects of internal and external aggressors on your skin? Do you use Olay products?
I hope you found the science behind the skincare interesting if a trifle long. When it comes to stresses, I find it best to keep your emotions on an even keel as much as possible. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Your skin will ultimately thank you for it by making you look younger than your years 😉
This is based on a closed door presentation by Prof Mark Birch-Machin and Dr. John Oblong and any mistakes or misconceptions are my own based on my interpretation of what was told.