We believe in health care rather than just skincare. Although skincare plays an important role, it is just a pillar of health alongside diet, lifestyle, environment, mental health & spiritual health.
As you can see in our 'Flower of Health', these various pillars interact & influence one another to produce a synergistic state of health & wellbeing.
Health is not simply the absence of disease or symptoms. True health is the flourishing & optimal state of being on a physical, mental, emotional, energetic & spiritual level.
True health views the skin & person as one part of an interconnected whole. Our skin is a reflection of our inner & outer health. The person also exists in constant interaction with their environment, which effects their gene expression.
We seek to bring the skin barrier & immune system back in to balance, to remove the sources of common skin irritants & to nourish the mind, body and soul.
We balance gut health, toxicity/irritant contact in the food & environment & wellbeing. Everything we do is designed to support the body's innate ability to heal & balance. We look at the functions of the skin, the physiological conditions that lead to balance, gut health & balancing the immune system.
Read more about our Skin Health System in The Problem Skin Bible.
The skin is the largest organ in the body & reflects the overall health of the body. It makes up around 16% of your body weight & replenishes at a rate of about 30,000 - 40,000 cells a minute.
Not only does it protect our organs, its functions include waterproofing, protection from foreign substances, filtering of UV rays, sensation, temperature regulation, excretion of sweat & toxins & Vitamin D synthesis.
It also allows us to express our emotions, culture & who we are. We have the choice to adorn, tattoo, pierce, tan & lighten the skin so it plays a deeply identity related role as well.
It is home to millions of bacteria, fungi & viruses that compose the skin microbiome. These beneficial microorganisms protect against invading pathogens, educate our immune system & breakdown substances. The skin is a diverse ecosystem that needs to be balanced to be healthy. Its pH, moisture, acidity, lipids, immune cells & microbiome need to be in balance for healthy skin.
We believe in balancing the overactive immune system inside & outside the body. When the gut lining is damaged, foreign substances can enter the bloodstream & trigger an immune response. Overt time, the immune system becomes progressively more overactive if the integrity of the gut & skin barrier is not maintained.
Skin tissue contains an intricate network of immune cells crucial for defence & skin homeostasis. In the event of a skin insult, they are crucial for preventing infection & promoting healing.
If the barrier is constantly broken or irritated through scratching & questionable skincare products, the skin can become infected, unable to hold enough moisture & overactive.
We believe in using our staged Hypoallergenic Diet to nurture the immune system, removing common skin irritants & using physiological minimal skincare to support the skin instead of constantly taking antibiotics & antihistamines.
The gut is critical for skin health. Many people with chronic skin problems have ‘leaky gut’ meaning the lining of their gastrointestinal tract becomes porous from food toxins, sugar, alcohol, stress & too much gluten. Undigested food particles & other wastes can more easily flow into the bloodstream causing inflammation, increased antibody production & excretion of waste through the skin. The immune system then becomes overactive leading to food & chemical allergies.
We believe in healing the gut. The typical modern diet is not beneficial for gut health as it is overly processed, high in gluten, commercially farmed animals, GMO's & dairy. It is lacking diversity, micronutrients & fibre.
Our use of antibiotics as well as in the animals we eat also effects gut function. We believe in balancing the immune system inside & out in order to bring the body back in to balance. We developed The Hypoallergenic Diet, a staged elimination diet low in natural chemicals initially to heal the gut & balance the immune system.
There are many potential chemical irritants in personal care, skincare, household care & the environment that could be effecting your skin. One of the most common irritants for those with sensitive skin is laundry powder & bleaches which often contain harsh surfactants & fragrances that build up on your laundry.
We believe in using clean, non toxic ingredients without common food or chemical allergens. We recommend limiting or removing sulphates, colours, fragrances, alcohol, essential oils & certain preservatives from your lifestyle. Detergents, laundry softeners, shampoos, fragrances, surface sprays, floor cleaners, hair sprays & deodorisers are common sources of chemical irritants.
Common environmental irritants include pets, dust, mould, grass, pollen, scratch fabrics/wools & pollution.
When your immune system is overactive it may respond in an abnormally aggressive way to many harmless substances. This is why it is crucial to balance the immune system inside & out and to remove chemical irritants. You can take a skin prick & blood test to determine common allergies and irritants. It is also useful to track your flares including the area it affected, the date & time, the environment & any actions you took in order to better understand the potential cause of issues.
We believe in using a minimal amount of biocompatible skincare to support the skin barrier. Problem skin is often deficient in skin lipids & natural moisturising factor effecting its ability to maintain water levels & proper barrier function.
The skin surface lipids of those with atopic dermatitis for example, show reduced wax esters & squalene in comparison to healthy skin. In addition, the composition of the triglycerides in atopic skin is altered, being low in long chain fatty acids, again effecting its barrier function.
Although petrochemicals like mineral oil, dimethicone & petroleum jelly are inert & don’t tend to cause irritation, they can not be metabolised by the skin. They can not integrate or supplement the skins natural lipids. They reduce water loss & give the skin flexibility but they are superficial in effect.
They can also potentially effect the natural functioning of the skin including excretion & may build up leading to clogged pores. For example petroleum jelly is highly effective at reducing water loss, but it is greasy & can cause irritation when sweating. The skin tends to become reliant on petrochemicals for superficial moisture loss reduction, but often becomes even dryer when the petrochemicals are washed off.
Conventional advice advocates for frequent bathing to boost skin moisture & trapping this with copious amounts of moisturiser multiple times a day. This seems logical.
Kevin’s lifelong experience with eczema & research reveals a more developed model of thinking about the skin. Continual over-moisturisation of the skin will lead to the skin becoming dependent on an external source of lipids & moisture. The skin will slow down its own production of lipids as it senses there is already enough.
The type of moisturiser is also important. If it is incorrectly formulated it is likely to damage the skin barrier. It should use skin identical ingredients, be formulated in a certain ratio, be pH balanced & supplement the deficient skin lipids.
We recommend using the minimum amount of a physiological moisturiser to maintain comfort & support the impaired skin barrier. As the skin heals, this amount should be reduced in order to encourage the skins own lipid production. Don’t constantly moisturise areas which aren’t dry or exposed to the elements.
A good indication of whether a moisturiser is good for long term skin health is how long your skin can maintain comfort & moisture before feeling the need to reapply it. Over time, does your skin require less product? How does your skin feel without any moisturiser? Is it becoming healthier?
Conventional advice recommends frequent washing in order to increase the water content of the skin, then immediately applying a copious amount of moisturiser. This is superficial thinking.
Overly frequent bathing or showering for extended periods weakens the skin barrier. Extended water contact dissolves the skin lipids, washes out the natural moisturising factor & elevates the naturally acidic pH of the skin. Any beneficial effect is temporary & the skin will be drier once the water has evaporated.
Showering should be limited to once per day (twice if playing sport), kept as short as possible ideally between 1-3 minutes & using lukewarm water. Its main purpose is to remove substances like dust, pollution, chemicals, sweat & excess oils.
The pH of most tap water is between 6.5 - 8.5 while the skin is between 4.7-5.75. In Europe, the tap water has a pH around 8.0. This will increase the skin pH up to 6 h after contact before returning to its natural value. Many soaps & detergents can also elevate the skin pH so we recommend pH balanced products.
Constantly elevating the skin pH can lead to a disturbed skin barrier & skin microflora. Those with chronic skin problems exhibit a reduced ability to buffer against strongly acidic or alkaline substances so repeated water contact will lead to longer than usual elevated skin pH.
We recommend targeting the cause of your skin problems rather than suppressing the symptoms.
Antibiotics interfere with the normal function of the immune system & the diversity of gut bacteria. They may be needed in serious cases of infection however it is not beneficial to constantly allow your body to become so imbalanced that you regularly need to use antibiotics.
We recommend targeting the cause of the irritation whether it is a food, toxin, irritant, allergen, new product, lifestyle change or stress. There is a reason your skin itches and has a rash. Constantly suppressing it is not removing the cause or helping it in the long run. Diet, irritant avoidance & healing the gut & skin barrier are critical ways to address the root cause of problems.
There are a few key questions to ask which can give an indication of the nature of your skin problems, however please consult a medical professional for assurance.
How long have you had skin problems?
If you have had it since birth it is a sign of a more chronic problem which is a combination of genetics, lifestyle and diet factors. If only of late there could be changes in your environment, stress, new products you are using or a contact irritation.
Where does it affect?
If it affects your entire body it is more likely a chronic problem otherwise is could be a food allergy or irritation to a chemical that is coming in contact with your entire body. For example laundry powders and detergents tend to cling and build up on clothes or it could be a soap or body wash. If it only affects your hands or face it is likely something coming in contact with those areas. If your mouth is itchy after a certain food it could be a food sensitivity.
When does it affect you?
If problems occur not long after a meal it could be a food allergy. If you are itchy at night mainly it could be from the bed sheets being too dusty or too hot causing heat rash. If it is after showering it could be from a product you are using or the towel. Start tracking your diet, flares and lifestyle habits to better understand the potential cause.
The brain, gut & skin are interconnected. Chronic stress impacts the balance of your gut bacteria, which can lead to inflammation. Internal inflammation can manifest externally as skin conditions. Recent studies have shown that stress also has a negative effect on skin barrier function, resulting in water loss & reduced healing capacity. We also know that about 50% of dopamine is produced in the gut & that altered gut bacteria is associated with various mental health disorders.
Having a skin problem is highly stressful but how we view it, our lifestyle & our relationship with ourselves has a large bearing on our mental health. Join one of the many TSW & Eczema support groups, follow other warriors on their journey, journal or even share your journey.
Try adding energising & relaxing health modalities that combat stress such as meditation, sound therapy, time in nature & exploring your passions. Eat a diversity of unprocessed, nutrient dense foods to support your gut. We also recommend taking the time to get to know your true self, question your own assumptions & think about what is meaningful to you.
When you have a skin problem it is easy to feel identified by your skin condition. However you are much more than that. You have developed a resilience, strength & empathy that makes you a better person. In time many who have overcome eczema go on to help others through their experience. The greatest pain can become the greatest source of meaning. It is possible to heal, it is possible to take control of your health & it is possible to live to your fullest.
Developing healthy habits in all areas of your life including sleep, diet, exercise, relationships and hobbies. Pay attention to whether a habit energises or drains you. Whether it supports your health or hinders it.
Limit things like smoking, alcohol, processed foods and drugs that are not beneficial to your health. Neither are some relationships, friends or jobs. Surround yourself with people who energise you. Add self-care practices to your regular routine. Whether that be journaling, meditation, time in nature, a massage or sound therapy.
Think about how your environment influences your health as everything is connected. In fact, everything is energy. An atom is mainly empty space. The universe is made of less than 5% matter. Create a positive, uplifting energy in your home environment to support your healing.
Ideally you want to have plenty of sunlight, fresh air, access to nature and a home that supports your lifestyle. Take the time to make your house a home. It should be a place that supports your healing. Think about balancing the positioning of your furniture according to Feng Shui principles, adding plants, removing clutter, adding a mix of your favourite colours and personal touches.
The first skin health system for problem skin comprising of our Hypoallergenic Diet, allergen avoidance & lifestyle advice.