Premature aging of the skin and inflammation
Scientists have long known that the root cause of most skin damage is inflammation. 50 years ago, Dr. Denham Harmon first documented the connection between inflammation and skin damage while researching the destructive impact free radicals have on cells. 30 years ago, Kligman and Lavker detailed the role that inflammation plays in visibly aging skin. More recently, science has identified a link between inflammation and multiple disease states, including heart attacks, colon, skin and prostate cancer, as well as aging of the skin.
The mechanism of inflammation
There are many factors that can damage the skin: UV radiation, smoking, excessively aggressive facials, harsh chemicals found in some skincare products, and even hormonal imbalances (for example, in the case of acne). What most people don’t realize is that all of these agents are related to inflammation of the skin cells. Irritants such as those above cause disruption of the skin barrier which in turn activates the release of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF) and interleukins 1 (IL1) and 8 (IL-8), as well as other pro-inflammatory molecules to induce protective acute inflammation and trigger repair of the damaged skin barrier. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) are enzymes that activate inflammation and degrade the damaged dermal skin cells like collagen and elastin to remodel the skin after injury. These destructive enzymes are produced in several skin cells, including fibroblasts, keratinocytes and mast cells. Collagenase , stromelysin and gelatinase are the most important enzymes in the inflammatory response. Visible skin aging like fine lines, wrinkles, fragility and laxity are due to solar elastosis, collagen destruction and tissue atrophy induced by damaging MMP activity.
Thus, the acute inflammatory response plays a vital role in the repair of damaged skin cells. But the modern woman often faces so much skin stress that chronic inflammation can result. Here, the body has taken a beneficial reaction too far, and the continual release of destructive enzymes can damage the skin faster than it can repair itself. The result is premature aging and the possibility of more serious diseases.
Reversing the damage
For over 100 years, people have used aspirin and other anti-inflammatories to reduce internal inflammation. And for decades people have taken antioxidant supplements to prevent damage to internal cells. Now it’s possible to apply the healing properties of both these compounds to the skin as well, reducing current inflammation and preventing its recurrence in the future.
Any skincare regimen intended to reduce visible skin aging should begin by addressing chronic skin inflammation. Daily use of a skincare line that fights chronic inflammation will ensure that the skin is functioning at its optimal level of protection. Dr. Gram has researched the mechanisms of inflammation and the thousands of herbal and antioxidant ingredients available to fight inflammation in topical skincare preparations. He found that only fourteen of these ingredients have been rigorously tested and clearly shown in human clinical trials to improve skin condition and decrease the visible signs of aging in the skin. They include, for example, the alpha hydroxy acids that can be found in apples, panax ginseng root extract, green tea, ginger root, retinols from carrots, soy bean extracts, and grape seed extracts. Dr. Gram has incorporated these proven ingredients to create a new line of skin-care products called SKIN1. Inflammation has been shown to increase the number of free radicals in the skin, break down collagen and elastin, and increase oil production. While many lines of skincare products attack free radicals, and anti-aging products seek to heal the damage to collagen and elasting, only SKIN1 does both while also reducing excess oil production by avoiding harsh drying sulfates.
In addition to SKIN1, Dr. Gram further recommends diet modification along the lines of Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. (Andrew Weil, MD, a leading name in the health field, believes that “without question, diet influences inflammation,” and has formulated a diet especially designed to reduce inflammation.)
Recent scientific advances have made clear chronic inflammation’s connection to multiple skin conditions, as well as its connection to a host of systemic diseases including cancer. It is clear that skincare products with the right ingredients can help prevent and reverse chronic inflammation, restoring the skin to its normal condition and helping to minimize, reverse, and/or prevent premature aging of the skin. Virtually everyone would benefit from a diet rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents and daily use of topical anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents such as those found in SKIN1.