What are lipids?
Lipids are naturally occurring hydrocarbon chains that are insoluble in water, but dissolve in natural solvents. Examples of lipids are fats, lipoproteins, fatty acids, some vitamins, steroids and phospholipids that contain monoglycerides, diglycerides and triglycerides. Think omega-3, omega-6, vitamin A, cholesterol and hormones.
Lipids are essential in skin health, they help to form the structural components of the skin and also take part in function. Lipids are present in the cell membrane bilayers, and help form the structure of our cells at the microscopic level. One of the lipids that we can see in skin is called sebum. Sebum is produced and secreted by glands in the hair follicle. When secreted, it keeps the skin moist, soft and supple. Without it, skin becomes dry, flaky, aged and prone to sensitisations. Dry skin (which is different from dehydrated skin) is also known as alipoid – without oil.
The amount of sebum produced is both genetic and lifestyle moderated. Persons with an oily skin type are often genetically predisposed to produce more oil in their skin, whether it is all over or localised in the T-zone. Signs that you might have an oily skin type include a shiny appearance, open pores, and traces of oil left behind on a tissue when blotted. Increases in oil production can also be triggered by hormonal changes such as an increase in testosterone, puberty, exercise, and certain medications.
Teenage acne is acne caused by the over production of oil. This is due to the excess sebum being produced from hormone fluxes experienced at these ages. This is one of the features of teenage acne that makes it so different from adult acne.
Big milestones in age can also indicate times of change for our skin and its oil production. As we age sebum production is decreased i.e. women go through menopause and men experience decreased testosterone levels. In this age bracket, it is common for the skin to appear dry and prematurely aged. During this time, it is important to re-assess your skincare, but remember – never forgo sunscreen! This occurrence also comes down to the reduction of lipids in the skin and thus leading to fragile skin which can tear and damage easily.
Diet also plays a significant role in the holistic management of skin health, where the consumption of healthy fats can influence your skin. Some great foods that are high in good lipids like essential fatty acids and vitamins that help nourish the skin are:
– Olive oil
– Coconut oil
Think about ways you can include these great foodstuffs into your diet every day. For example: avocado makes a great topping on tomato based pasta instead of cheese, swap out your cooking oils for healthier options, toss some extra nuts through you cereal or salad, and snack on fruit and water.
It is important to note that topical skincare products can also influence sebum in the skin. The use of topical lipids, like emollient based products can help moisturise dry skin and protect sensitised skin that has an impaired barrier. For people with oily skin, oil-free moisturisers and oil absorbing products like clay cleansers can be used to soak up excess oil.
Here at ENT Wellbeing, you can discuss both skin and diet concerns. Call and make an appointment to see our dietician Belinda to help improve your skin from the inside out, and book in for a FREE skin analysis with our skincare nurse Alex. Contact us today.