Written by: Dr. Saulius Alkaitis
Q: How does one protect the skin against the harmful effects of pollution and how can we repair the skin that is damaged by pollution?
Dr. Alkaitis: The default answer would be to live in a clean, non-polluted environment. But that by necessity would require that one remove themselves from humanity as humans in their social collective historically have shown to have an unquenchable propensity and creativity in polluting their environment. So the question is very pertinent to our lives; how do we protect ourselves from ourselves?"
The combination of pollutants, air and sunlight results in the formation of many free radicals, reactive oxygen species and other reactive chemical compounds. This brew will react with the skin, stimulate an inflammatory response and by this generally accelerate its ageing. Intuitively it would seem that protection would be most effective via topical application. However, there are very effective internal methods for prevention/repair of pollution mediated skin damage so I highly recommend that both the internal as well as the topical approach be utilized simultaneously.
The internal approach is highly convenient as one has to only swallow some supplements to protect not only your face but all of your body. Here are some suggestions for supplementation to be taken internally:
1.SOD (Super Oxide Dismutase).
This is an enzyme that is found within all air-breathing organisms and is critical in minimizing the damage done by reactive oxygen species/free radicals to the cells by converting these reactive species to harmless substances such as water and oxygen. Supplementing with SOD also stimulates other protective mechanisms within the cells such as those mediated by catalase and glutathione peroxidase. It also quenches inflammation. In combination with Vitamin E (see below) it’s effectiveness in preventing/repairing sun damage to skin has been amply demonstrated.
Note: For the SOD to have its positive effect in the body it must go through the digestive tract without being altered. There is only one SOD supplement on the market that has this critical property and that is GliSODine, developed by IsoCell, Paris. The SOD comes from melon seeds and is coated with the wheat protein gliadin, the combination being impervious to the digestive processes. Only use SOD supplements that contain GliSODine. All of the other SOD supplements will, at best, act as a placebo.
Astaxanthin is nature’s super-antioxidant. As far as we know it is only produced by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis under conditions in which protection from the sun is necessary. It has the rare property of being able to cross both the blood-brain and blood-eye barriers making it an excellent supplement for protecting and maintaining brain and eye health. It is a powerhouse supplement for the skin in that it reverses the visible signs of ageing, prevents the formation of wrinkles and age spots, very efficiently quenches reactive oxygen species and is anti-inflammatory. It also acts as an internal sun screen. The combination of astaxanthin, SOD and Vitamin E makes a very good internal natural sun screen and I highly recommend it for anyone that must be exposed to excessive sunlight.
There are no known side effects from taking natural astaxanthin. Wild salmon and shellfish (such as krill) get their pink/red color naturally from eating the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. However the great majority of farmed salmon are fed food to which a synthetic form astaxanthin is added to give them a pink/red color. The synthetic form of astaxanthin is cheaper than the natural one. Absolutely make sure the astaxanthin you are taking is the natural one. Do not take the synthetic form because it will not behave the same in your body as the natural one.
3.Full Spectrum Vitamin E (D-alpha, beta, gamma, delta tocopherols and D-alpha, beta, delta, gamma tocotrienols).
Amongst its myriad subtle biological functions, it acts as a very effective protector of fats (lipids) against oxidation. This is quite important for maintaining a supple skin as it helps to prevent premature ageing. Please note that there are many synthetic Vitamin E supplements on the market. These contain forms of Vitamin E that the body has never seen in evolutionary times so it is not at all clear as to what effects they will have on your body but these effects will certainly not be normal. As my recommendations here are for the maintenance of a healthy skin in a polluted environment prudence dictates that you avoid synthetic Vitamin E supplements.
Protecting the skin externally from pollution via lotions, creams, etc. brings us to the realm of cosmetics. Here it will be of utmost importance that whatever is applied to the skin will support the skin’s innate healing mechanisms, support its normal biological functions and prevent and help repair any environmental damage. This means that these products bring the skin to homeostasis and help to maintain it under environmental stress. There will be no magical fix – the whole living organ(ism) must be addressed. There is one product line that does this and that is my own, Dr. Alkaitis. I have created it to specifically do that.
The face is the most exposed and most sensitive to environmental stress. My recommended procedure for the maintenance of a healthy complexion is rather straightforward.
This is important, especially towards the end of the day as your skin will have a layer of particulate matter deposited on it. Use the Organic Purifying Facial Cleanser. It will not dry out your skin.
You can substitute or follow with the Organic Ageless Facial Elixir. This will rejuvenate the skin, help diminish and prevent the signs of ageing such as wrinkles, and help revitalize and optimize the skins’ innate healing processes.
Following my suggestions above will certainly help you prevent and minimize the damage that our man-made environment can do to your skin. For a truly healthy skin you must not only “eat” the healthiest of skin care products, but you must also eat the healthiest of foods. The fact that your skin is a two-way street, what you put on it goes into your body, is a conveniently overlooked fundamental characteristic of human skin. For a true holistic approach to the maintenance of a healthy skin in a stressful environment, one must not only take in healthy living food internally via the mouth, one must also take in only healthy living food externally via topical application on your skin. My motto should become your motto: “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”™.