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Shot of a young woman inspecting her skin in front of the bathroom mirror



Recently, the topic of hair, skin, and nails care is being discussed and researched, especially now that we appreciate and get more comfortable in our natural hair, skin, and nails. The health and look of our skin, hair, and nails largely depend on several structural proteins: collagen, keratin, and elastin. This primarily means that to have the “perfect” hair, skin, and nails, critically ensure that these proteins are healthy.

Factors that influence skin care/ development

However, intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence the appearance and integrity of involved proteins.

Intrinsic factors to note for a healthy skin care

They include biological aging processes, which affect collagen, elastin, melanin, keratin, and certain levels of hormones and cause changes in how one’s skin, hair, and nails look. The problem is that intrinsic factors, such as the biological aging process, and extrinsic factors, such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sun exposure, compromise the structure and function of these proteins. This causes the appearance and texture of our skin, hair, and nails to deteriorate over time (Kambayashi, 2001; Uitto, 2008; NIH, 2016; Giesen, 2011; Calleja-Agius, 2013; Baud, 2013; Baumann, 2007).
At the cellular level, glycation is a major contributor to skin aging. Glycation is the same reaction that causes foods to be brown when cooked at high temperatures. Glycation involves bonding sugar molecules with proteins and fats in the body and skin. This reaction is markedly accelerated when blood sugar is elevated, as in diabetes (Felipe, 2011; Gkogkolou, 2012; Singh, 2014).
Glycation causes collagen and elastin proteins to change into advanced glycation end products (AGEs), disrupting the skin’s structural framework (Singh, 2014; Page, 2014; Gkogkolou, 2012). AGEs also promote chronic inflammation in skin cells, which further contributes to skin aging (Sanguineti, 2014; Gkogkolou, 2012).

Extrinsic factors to note for a healthy skin care

These factors are not biological and are primarily due to exposure to certain lifestyles, procedures and environments.
They include:

  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation- this causes damage to free radicals and enzyme breakdown in proteins. Collagen and elastin fibers in the skin are targets of these destructive molecules (Amaro-Ortiz, 2014).
  • Smoking and polluted air. This causes skin damage especially. Smoke from tobacco irreversibly damages the skin and increases the rate at which it ages.

Skin Aging and Lifestyle

Whether skin aging is caused prematurely by extrinsic factors (e.g., sun, smoking, etc.) or develops intrinsically through natural “wear and tear.” the result is the same: weathered-looking skin characterized by dryness, wrinkling, thinning, discoloration (“age spots”), and decreased elasticity (Michels 2011; Baumann 2007; Calleja-Agius 2007; Calleja-Agius.
2013). Fortunately, safe scientific procedures can help slow down the rate at which the skin ages.

-Diet: Non-plant sourced, processed and high-sugar diets have been found to prevent healthy skin, nails and hair.
Eating foods containing essential nutrients such as vitamins A and C, hyaluronic acid, omega-3 fatty acid, silicon, zinc, and biotics is vital.
-Lack of sleep. Inadequate sleep periods negatively affect collagen formation and reduce skin quality.

Conventional Cosmetic Interventions to combat skin damage/aging

Cosmetic procedures include chemical peels, Botox injections, laser skin resurfacing, dermabrasion, Injectable hyaluronic acid, or topical tretinoin (Retin-A).
These scientific procedures or treatments can help slow down the rate at which the skin ages, thus promoting a healthy skin care. They have side effects and are relatively expensive, as good as they sound or look. Before embarking on these therapies, talk to a healthcare provider about realistic expectations, risks, and costs is necessary (Mayo Clinic 2014). It is important to consult a skin care specialist before undergoing any procedure or treatment.
Let us dive deeper into these procedures:

Chemical Peels in skin care

Chemical peels also called chemexfoliation, is a minimally invasive way to improve skin looks. A chemical solution is applied to the skin to cause minor damage to the skin surface and, after that, cause new skin to be rejuvenated, causing the old skin to peel off, hence, the name “chemical peel.” The new skin has fewer wrinkles and is smoother. They can be beneficial in several conditions, including acne scars, aging skin, crow’s feet, sun-damaged skin, and wrinkles (ASPS 2016a; ASDS 2016a).

Different chemical formulations can reach different depths of the skin. Superficial peels can treat minor skin irregularities and shallow wrinkles, while more profound and noticeable abnormalities may require deeper-peeling chemical formulations. Chemicals used include alpha-hydroxy acids (such as glycolic and lactic acids), trichloroacetic acid, beta-hydroxy acids, and others (Hassan, 2013). Potential side effects include a temporary or permanent change in skin color, scarring, and reactivation of cold sores (ASDS 2016a).


This is quite similar to chemical peeling. It causes the deterioration of the top layers of the skin and then encourages the growth of new skin. Dermabrasion adopts the use of mechanical means to take off the top layers. Because dermabrasion involves the removal of live tissues, it is painful. It requires using an anesthetic. These range from topical anesthetics to complete sedation, depending on the individual’s pain sensitivity and the degree of dermabrasion needed.

Redness and crusting are typical during recovery and may last roughly two to three weeks. Antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic ointments for the affected area are often recommended after treatment (Alkhawam, 2009). Tretinoin (e.g., Retin-A) for a few weeks before dermabrasion, may shorten healing time and reduce post-procedure skin abnormalities (Mandy, 1986). Sun exposure should be minimized for a month before and after dermabrasion. Although uncommon, lasting redness, scarring, or other skin abnormalities may occur (Alkhawam, 2009).


This type of procedure is similar to dermabrasion but slightly less invasive, removing only the upper layers of the epidermis. Microdermabrasion can minimize the appearance of very superficial skin abnormalities or be used to improve general skin appearance (Alkhawam, 2009). This gentle technique produces temporary results that may require as many as 16 treatments to be seen (Mayo Clinic 2014). Since only the upper layers of the dermis are affected, side effects are just redness of the skin. However, in rare cases, itching, minor vessel breakage, bruising, and pinpoint bleeding can occur (Alkhawam, 2009; El-Domyati, 2016; ASPS 2016c). Ensure you consult a healthcare professional before undergoing this procedure.


Botox (the brand name for botulinum toxin type A) injection is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures. Numerous studies have demonstrated that Botox injections can be a safe and effective treatment for facial wrinkles, including frown lines, crow’s feet, and forehead (Hexsel, 2011; Small, 2014). Numerous studies have demonstrated that Botox injections can be a safe and effective treatment for facial wrinkles (Hexsel, 2011; Small, 2014).

Botox is a neurotoxin that inhibits the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter needed for muscle contraction. By injecting tiny amounts of Botox, facial muscles can temporarily relax and reduce wrinkles’ appearance (Hexsel, 2011; Small, 2014). The results may last several months, and repeated treatments are needed for maintenance (Mayo Clinic 2014). Minor bruising, pain at the injection site and allergic reactions can occur after Botox injections (Hexsel, 2011; Small, 2014). Other complications include facial asymmetry and lowering or drooping of the eyelid or eyebrow due to migration of the neurotoxin. Although these complications are uncommon and temporary, they are often very distressing (Small, 2014).


This is also known as all-trans retinoic acid or, e.g., Retin-A). It is a pharmaceutical retinoid (vitamin A derivative) approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is for topical use to treat skin conditions such as acne. Tretinoin stimulates new collagen formation, decreases collagen loss, increases fibroblast proliferation, and suppresses inflammation (Baldwin, 2013; Ascenso, 2014; Mukherjee, 2006).

However, side-effects such as skin redness, irritation, burning, and scaling are common. Tretinoin increases sun sensitivity, so topical sunscreens and sun-protective clothing are recommended during treatment to prevent sunburn (Mayo Clinic 2014).

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing can help improve the appearance of wrinkles, blemishes, and scars. Modern laser methods are precise and are considered to be suitable for facial skin (ASPS 2016b; ADS 2016b). Laser resurfacing is used to treat a range of skin flaws associated with (photo)aging (Lipozencic, 2010a; Lipozencic, 2010b; ASPS 2016b).
After laser therapy, symptoms are mild burning, swelling, flaking, peeling, and skin color changes (bronzing) that can persist for months.

Hyaluronic Acid

FDA approved to treat facial aging signs, such as loss of skin volume and elasticity and the appearance of wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in many tissues in the body.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy

Estrogen is essential in preserving protein contents, protecting skin thickness and moisture, and improving the rate at which wounds heal. Postmenopausal women often experience a drastic decline in estrogen levels which increases the rate of skin aging. This therapy can reduce wrinkle depth and pore sizes by 61-100% by preventing collagen breakdown and improving collagen development.
It may be a safer method for replacing hormones that have declined with age. Bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to the hormones produced by the body. Bioidentical estrogens include 17 beta-estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Progesterone is also a bioidentical hormone. Many bioidentical hormone preparations are FDA-approved (Holtorf, 2009; HHP, 2006).

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)

PRP is an emerging technology that can aid in the regeneration of facial skin, improve on firmness and sagging. PRP is derived from a patient’s blood subjected to a process that isolates and concentrates platelets (Loesch, 2014; Yuksel, 2014).
It is used as a treatment for wrinkles, pigmentation disorders, and photodamaged skin in topical and injectable forms. It is often used with other treatments, such as laser resurfacing (Loesch, 2014; Kim, Je, 2011).

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