The largest organ in the human body isn’t actually in the human body – it’s on the outside. To be even more accurate, it is the outside.
It’s our skin. And it does more than keep the rain out and our insides in.
Our skin is a pretty good barrier against much of the outside world, but it isn’t perfect. Sun damage or melasma happens. And the products we use on our skin may be doing us more harm than good.
As we age and lose estrogen, skin gets drier, thinner, loses moisture and elasticity. This makes skin more prone to damage, dark spots, and wrinkles.
Unfortunately, the beauty industry, with its focus on younger women, doesn't really handle aging skin well. There is no shortage of options on store and salon shelves, but many products not only provide temporary relief at best, they may actually be introducing harmful substances, at worst.
Chemicals such as phthalates and parabens are found in many common household products, including cosmetics. These are suspected "endocrine-disrupters," meaning they may have unnatural influence on our hormones. At a time when hormones are already pretty "disrupted" thanks to perimenopause and menopause, additional commotion from the outside is as unwanted as it may be dangerous.
We talked with skin-care expert Kari Gran, co-founder of the company that bears her name, about how to protect all skin, but particularly aging skin.
"Sunscreen" came up regularly, often, and frequently at volume: Kari Gran is a true believer in the power of protecting our skin so it's healthier, longer. Much of our skin's aging, Kari says, can be attributed to accumulated sun damage. But many of us fail to understand how sun damages our skin.
The rays that burn our skin aren't the same as the ones that age us over time. While UVB rays damage the DNA in skin cells directly, causing sun burn and most skin cancers, the weaker UVA rays are the ones that cause photoaging. These rays can penetrate to the collagen in the deeper dermal layer, damaging not only collagen (which we already have less of as we age) but also causing the tiny blood vessels in the skin to bleed, which can make those thin purple lines that are visible just under the skin.
You need sunscreen that blocks both types of rays, and, says Kari, you need it every day. Whle UVB rays may be less present and harmful on cloudy days, UVA rays are still present, still penetrating, still doing damage.
In addition to the right sunscreen, we need to use products that truly protect and nourish but that contain only helpful (and not harmful) ingredients.
While no OTC product can replace the properties of estrogen, some are more attuned to the need to protect and nourish better than others.
Kari Gran and Lisa Strain started the Kari Gran company based, as it often is for women, on a need that no one was meeting.
Kari herself was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in her late twenties. That diagnosis, after years of not feeling well, led her to consider the impact on her insides of the products she used on her outside: creams, lotions, soaps, makeup, etc.
We know what we put on our skin can affect us systemically — it's the way nicotine patches work, after all. So we need to be thoughtful about the products we use on our skin, especially as we get older.
Kari, who describes herself as a "diehard beauty junkie," made healthy alternatives in her kitchen to give to friends as gifts. Lisa pushed her to turn her amazing formulations into a business, and there's been no looking back.
Guaranteed free from endocrine-disrupting parabens and other harmful ingredients, the rich, lush, cleansing, hydrating, restorative serums, soaps, oils and more are protective and nourishing.
Learn more about skincare for menopausal skin and Kari Gran — the company and the woman it's named for — in this podcast with Gennev CEO Jill Angelo.
What is your skincare regimen, if you have one? Does it work for you, or are you considering switching it up? We'd love to hear what you've learned in our Gennev Community forums!