The Fountain of Youth
Why Good Skincare Habits for Children and Young Adults Are So Important
In our modern world, where exposure to pollutants and toxins are all too common, it is important that we help our children adopt naturally beneficial skincare habits from an early age. It is no exaggeration to say that the skin they will grow into as adults will be the skin they have mapped out for themselves as children. If we want them to grow up with healthy, glowing skin (and all the benefits to their confidence that this can bring) then we need to instill good habits from the very start.
From my perspective, the most important lesson we can offer our children is that good skincare is dependent on a holistic, inside/outside approach. This is true even for new-borns. Babies can get off to a good start with appropriate food introduction and skin protection.
Eczema and other forms of dermatitis are unfortunately common these days and the root cause of these outbreaks generally is from ‘within’; a result of a food intolerance, inadequate digestion and stomach flora or inflammatory stress. Careful introduction of new foods for babies is therefore advisable. For some helpful information on weaning tips and eczema please see my naturopathic column on weaning and eczema
General bathing is also important and can take place once a day. It’s a great bonding exercise with babies and it is de-stressing for children to relax in water. But be careful not to over-scrub young skin and always avoid non-natural soaps. The skin has a perfect pH level just as it is, acting as a protector against harmful bacteria and fungi.
SLS, which is common in most soaps as the foaming agent, is actually a common detergent that alters the natural flora and pH of the skin. As a result synthetic soaps can increase the risk of infections, inflammation, dry skin and itching. Remember that in most cases (and this includes adults) the only areas that really need cleaning are under the arms, the genital area and muddy knees!
The need to avoid over-exposure to the sun is well known. A young child’s skin is thinner, more fragile and less oily than an adult’s. It also produces less melanin, the substance that helps ward off sunburn. But at any age too much sun can degrade collagen levels, causing the formation of spots and moles and the possibility of skin cancer in later life. In addition, over-exposure has an aging effect, which will become evident as we enter our twenties and thirties.
In order to protect against the sun, we should not only invest in a carefully chosen sunblock but also cover up with lightweight cotton clothes and a hat when the sun is at its highest. There are some concerns that chemical sunscreens may actually increase the risk of cancer and for this reason it is wise to use a broad spectrum, natural (and non nano-particle) zinc-based sunscreen.
What is less commonly known is that under-exposure to the sun should also be avoided. We need some sun to help in the production of Vitamin D, which, among other things, helps to slow down the rate of cellular aging and build strong bones. Exposure to the sun for 10-15 minutes in the early afternoon or late morning is generally good enough to maintain good Vitamin D levels and is once again beneficial for stress levels.
As your child grows and enters the teenage years there are additional steps which can be taken to care for the skin. At this time, increased hormone production will effect changes, leading most noticeably to the production of oil on the surface of the skin. This, in turn, can lead to break-outs and, in some cases, full-blown acne.
In order to protect against this, a teenager’s skin needs tender care, with products free from toxins and gentle enough to respect the beauty of youth. Introducing your teen to some simple steps sets them up for a lifetime of good skin. One way they can reduce breakouts is by gently exfoliating. The Organic Skin Co.’s Almond Exfoliant is a great option to gently clean off the oily top layer of skin without damaging the skin. Shop for the Almond Exfoliant – USA / AUS / NZ
If your teen is using make-up (use organic makeup!) then they must get into the habit or removing it before they go to bed, so that the skin has a chance to breathe. Also, an oily skin benefits from appropriate cleaning so that aggravating bacteria doesn’t cause further inflammation to any acne. The Organic Skin Co.’s Juniper Berry Face Wash, which has wonderful antibacterial properties, is an excellent option for cleaning the skin, leaving it fresh and revitalized. To learn more about acne please read my naturopathic treatment plan for acne.
Finally, never forget the importance of exercise and a good diet as part of a healthy, holistic approach to skincare. Exercise helps to encourage blood circulation and eliminate toxins, whilst a well-balanced diet rich in healthy fats and antioxidants will not only keep your child’s skin in great condition, it will also increase their resistance to sun-induced damage.