Topical Skin Nutrition: From Heresy to Hero
From Heresy to Hero
When I began as a dermatologic researcher more than a quarter of a century ago, the idea of ‘feeding’ the skin was laughed at by dermatologists with creams marketed as ‘skin foods’ attracting the highest level of derision.
There were even calls to ban the idea of ingredients that ‘nourished’ the skin from cosmetic advertising copy.
The prevailing medical theory was one of the skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum, formed an unassailable barrier that prevented everything and anything from penetrating the skin’s surface.
How far we have come…
The first breakthrough was Ascorbic Acid. With its relatively small molecular weight and low pH, it was found to easily penetrate the stratum corneum, delivering connective tissue boosting Vitamin C to the skin’s collagen producing cells—the fibroblasts—which are located deep in the dermis.
If we define a nutrient as a substance used by a cell, tissue, organ or organism to function, survive, grow and reproduce, we could most certainly classify Ascorbic Acid as a topical skin nutrient for fibroblasts.
Likewise, B-group vitamins, so necessary to nerve and cellular function, have been found through multiple large-scale studies to enhance the survival and viability of skin immune cells (called Langerhans Cells), particularly when skin is exposed to solar radiation.
Vitamins A, D and E, three lipid-soluble Vitamins used by virtually every cell in the body for DNA repair, are critical to skin health, helping to protect and activate DNA repair processes in all of the skin’s major cell groups – fibroblasts, Langerhans Cells and melanocytes (pigment producing cells). Topical application of any of these Vitamins, (optimally via skin identical concentrations and ratios such as those we use at RATIONALE) have been shown to enhance all of these DNA repair mechanisms—and even better when combined with DNA Repair Enzymes e.g. RATIONALE DNA Night Cream and DNA Serum.
In the same way, mineral and lipid nutrients such as Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Cholesterol and Phospholipids all play a critical role in providing skin with the nutrients it needs for healthy cell and tissue reproduction. The healthier the cells, the healthier the cellular turnover cycle (called ‘cellular differentiation’). And the healthier the differentiation, the more luminous the complexion!
I’m often asked if dietary sources of these skin nutrients is enough. Unfortunately, as the outermost organ, the skin is the last port of call—often receiving inadequate doses of vital nutrients. And with each decade of life, our skin nutrient reserves (endogenous nutrients) decrease, and exacerbated further by daily sun exposure.
So topically applied skin nutrients, at the correct concentrations, formulated in the correct delivery systems (also called isotropic formulation) makes perfect sense.
Fortunately, as the only organ of the body that is visible, we can see within days if our skin is benefitting from topical nutrient supplementation.
In other words, the RATIONALE Glow.