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3/11/2009
Reflections of real beauty
Reflections of real beauty

We experience touch and feel temperature through our skin. Our skin breathes in and out. It is alive and organic. Babies first experience the world through their skin. Each of the life impressions that newborns absorb is taken in through the delicate layer that encases and protects their bodies from the large, unknown world in which they have become a part.

Because skin is an organ it consists of cells, vessels, tissues, water and oil, among hundreds of other building blocks. It is also connected to our entire environment. Our skin is even in sync with the moon, following its 28-day cycle of regeneration. Skin, and the body as a whole, needs minerals, water, oxygen and carbon dioxide, along with other essentials. Plants and animals require the same.

Like nature, skin knows how to regulate itself for optimal health. In its natural state, the skin stays at its center point of balance—not too oily, dry or sensitive. But also like nature, it faces the challenge to do so amid all of the unnatural things it comes in contact with, such as pollution and chemicals as well as stress. Genetics and lifestyle also affect the skin’s well being. “Our skin has a different quality when we live in the countryside versus the city,” says esthetician and holistic skin care expert Lilith Schwertle. “Additionally, the skin must adjust to external and internal variables, like air conditioning and heat.”

Due to such factors, our skin can easily shift out of balance. On one side of the spectrum the skin experiences various degrees of inflammation, as seen in conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and acne. The other side tips toward inactive, non-regenerative skin, such as dry, prematurely aging and even scleroderma-effected skin.

This is why, according to Schwertle, using natural substances remains so important. “We can give the skin a blueprint for health with natural skin care products that work with the body’s natural healing tendencies,” she explains. “In doing so, we help the skin remember how to stay in balance. This is why Weleda products are so unique. Unlike conventional skin care or even other natural products, Weleda’s approach, as seen through its formulas, goes beyond the obvious. Rather than simply looking at the skin according to our scientific understanding of its layers, Weleda works on a deeper level. Each [natural] ingredient has an important function that is synergistic with the others in the formula. The ingredients work with the skin’s natural self-regulating abilities in a very special, subtle way.” Thus the skin is able to receive, understand and use the messages delivered to it, achieving harmony within itself, with the entire body and with its outside environment.

The oil from the sweet almond nut, for instance, is a very gentle ingredient with a simple chemical structure. This oil base, when mixed with other natural ingredients like lactic acid, calms irritated and sensitive skin. Naturally produced by the body, lactic acid binds the skin’s layers together. However, inflamed and dry skin, as in a neurodermatitis condition, often lacks the substance. The lactic acid in the Weleda Almond Facial Care products cares for the skin while also serving as an instructional manual, reminding the skin how to produce the essential ingredient for its long-term health. Like the formulations themselves, the premise is simple. “If our stomach is aching we would not eat a lot of meat or a heavy meal. Instead, we would have soup or bread to help calm the stomach,” explains Schwertle. “This is the way in which Weleda Almond Facial Care works on the skin, easing inflammation and activity to bring it back to a calm state of health.”

In contrast to inflammation, when the skin sways toward inactivity, it hardens and lacks the ability to regenerate itself. Whether due to aging or as a result of life circumstances, the breaking-down processes become greater than the rebuilding processes. In such a case, the skin must be supported with rich, nourishing ingredients like rosehip seed oil. Composed of a rich array of essential fatty acids—including linoleic and linolenic fatty acids, which the body cannot replenish as it ages—the light oil softly replenishes the skin. Antioxidants vitamins A and E, natural components of rosehip seed oil, further support the skin’s health, preventing damage caused by free radicals. At the same time, the oil’s skin-compatible composition gives the skin cues to naturally regenerate itself.

The facial area, where the skin is usually most delicate and sensitive, requires special care. Our eyelids, for instance, are covered with the thinnest skin, measuring a mere one millimeter thick. Facial skin is also most exposed to wind, sun, cold, heat and all the variable, sometimes harsh, conditions we literally face. This skin therefore needs extra-gentle treatment and protection.

Through it all, our skin can remain strong. As long as we naturally care for it with a gentle, nurturing and nourishing approach our skin will rebuild with empowered vigor. The long-term goal is to bring the skin into such a state of balance that it will need less products and intensive maintenance.

Holistic, natural care is a wholesome part of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. With tender love and care, our skin will keep on smiling through the ages.