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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

Boost Your Skin’s Immune System

Dec 01, 2021 12:00AM ● By Maggie Schaetzel
The skin is arguably the human body’s most complex organ. It is so complex that it hosts its own innate immune system. The skin also synergistically works with the internal immune system as its first line of defense. When the skin’s immune system is impaired, a number of skin conditions may appear at the surface, such as red and irritated skin, dry skin, blotchy skin, intermittent skin rashes, acne, eczema and even age spots.

A holistic approach to skin care takes everything into consideration that may affect the skin. This means topically, internally and emotionally. A barrier-repairing approach is taken when the skin’s immune system is compromised. When repairing the skin’s barrier there are some things to consider. “Less is more” is a great general rule.

The first step to a routine should always be a gentle double-cleanse to remove make-up or any facial product left on the skin. Scrubs and cleansing tools should be avoided, including harsh wash cloths. Our hands, a cleanser and tepid water are all that’s needed for a cleanse. A clean towel to pat the skin dry will keep bacteria from getting into the skin. Barrier-repairing ingredients rich in natural moisturizing factors and wound-repairing ingredients should be applied on the skin in the most bioavailable form.

Lifestyle considerations for barrier repair start in the shower. Using lukewarm or tepid water can reduce the risk of damage 
to the skin from hot water; avoiding any type of heat to the skin should be a lifestyle change while the barrier is impaired. A shower filter is also something to consider in order to filter out chemicals found in many water systems, such as arsenic, fluoride, chlorine and pharmaceutical drugs. These chemicals can be very drying to the skin and toxic to the body over time.

The skin is the last organ to receive nutrients and water, and it can be difficult to keep hydration locked in. Caffeine, alcohol and highly preserved foods pull water content from the skin. Adequate hydration is crucial for repairing the skin.

Essential fatty acids found in healthy fats build healthy cell membranes and protect the skin’s natural oil barrier, according to a 2012 article on Healthy fats balance the microbiome and support hormones, and that symbiosis reflects as clear, glowing skin. As stated within a 2020 article by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, healthy fats (from sources such as macadamia nuts, flax seed, hemp seed, chia seed and avocados) are essential for a healthy skin barrier. When cooking with fats, consider using oils recommended for high temperature cooking to avoid denaturing (modification of the protein structure) or reducing the nutrients in the fat.

The skin is the most complex organ of the body and is constantly changing. A holistic approach works with the body’s biochemistry to restore or maintain healthy skin.

Maggie Schaetzel (seated on the right), holistic nutritionist and licensed aesthetician, is the owner of Aesthetically Well, in Milwaukee. A licensed aesthetician studies and treats skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and melasma, and is trained to guide people on the proper use of skin care ingredients. Schaetzel’s team of licensed professionals specializes in custom skin care and nutrition, and use a holistic approach to beauty and wellness that is backed by science. They offer services that nourish the skin, mind and body, and take pride in providing the most advanced non-invasive skincare treatments on the market. They also offer coaching to empower clients toward positive lifestyle changes. For more information, call 414-331-8852 or visit