Fun Fact: The skin is the largest organ of the body - adults carry some 8 pounds and 22 square feet of it. Did you know you had that much skin?
I used to have such dry skin on my hands that they would crack & peel so badly I could barely hold a pen to write in school they hurt so bad. I would slather on lotion (my fave was Bath & Body Works Plumeria) and other salves but NOTHING seemed to help. I never thought about what was going on INSIDE my body to cause the SYMPTOM of dry skin! (Our bodies tell us where they need support - if we would just listen!)
I'm excited to share this information with you. At 42, the only lotion I use is on my face. I put into practice what I'll share below and have no dry skin. Not in the winter in Minnesota or the winter in Arizona which we all know are both DRY!! My hair has never been healthier. I'm even able to have LONGer hair now since it doesn't look terrible like it used to! My fingernails & toenails are almost a full time job since they grow so fast. (One reason I love using the supplements mentioned below for our horses, too...think healthy hooves!)
I love knowing that I am giving my body what it needs from the INSIDE OUT vs just covering up symptoms with lotion. I also learned years ago how terrible B&B products are for us and our families/pets so threw that away which would have helped my body on its own!
LET'S DIVE INTO PART 2 OF THE BODY SYSTEMS SERIES!
Acne, psoriasis, eczema, hair loss, dermatitis, brittle nails - all these can be signs of an imbalanced integumentary system. We all want healthy hair, skin, and nails - don’t we? These are all part of the integumentary system and need to be continually supported. But how do we do that?
In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the worst things you can do for it and some of the best. It’s time to get the hair, skin, and nails you’ve always wanted!
Often we look at our hair, skin, or nails and think it only needs support from the surface, but that is definitely not the case! Now don’t get me wrong, taking care of those things topically matters. But what I want to challenge you with today is to focus on what’s happening on the inside and how it affects what you see happening on the outside.
Our body is a complex web of interworking systems. When your liver is abused, you might start to notice it in the color of your skin. When your gut isn’t working properly, you might start to notice things like psoriasis or eczema. When your hormones are imbalanced, you might start to see an increase in acne or hair loss. See how it all connects?
But, don’t let that overwhelm you. We'll go over the basics of the integumentary system so you can see the whole picture. Then we'll learn about some of the WORST things you can do and some of the BEST things you can do for your hair, skin, and nails. I want you to leave feeling more empowered than ever!
Learn the Basics: What is the integumentary system?
So what exactly is the integumentary system? Well, to put it simply - it’s your hair, skin, and nails. To put it more scientifically, it’s the epidermis, dermis, hypodermis, associated glands, hair, and nails.
The integumentary system is the largest organ of the body! It forms a physical barrier between the outside environment and the inside environment of our bodies. Its main job is to protect all the vulnerable things within as well as maintain them. It’s your body’s first line of defense against pathogens so it plays an important role in immunity. This system also orchestrates wound healing, regulates body temperature, helps to synthesize Vitamin D, and detect stimuli.
Your skin is a tightly knit network of cells, making it very durable against everyday wear and tear. The epidermis is that top layer that you can see and feel. The dermis is the layer below that, which contains blood and lymph vessels, nerves, sweat glands, and hair follicles.
Then there is the hypodermis. It’s the connective tissue that provides additional cushion and insulation through fat storage. It also connects the top layers of skin to underlying structures like muscles and organs.
Hair comes from the epidermis but grows its roots deep into the dermis. It mainly serves to protect the skin, increase sensory function, and aid in regulating body temperature. Hair also filters harmful particles from entering the eyes, ears, nose, etc.
Nails form as layers of keratin on the tips of fingers and toes. Nails have an important job - to protect the fingers and toes, which are prone to repeated trauma. Nails also help increase the precision of movements and enhance sensation.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s see what things can DISRUPT this intricate system.
The Worst Foods & Substances for Skin
What things are you eating or using that is causing flare ups in your skin, abnormal nails, and hair loss? Well, it could be a combination of things from poor gut health to hormone imbalance to topical microbial imbalances.
Let’s break it down and focus on some of the main culprits…
- Sugar: A diet high in sugar from simple carbohydrates can actually damage the collagen and elastin our body naturally produces, the proteins that give your skin shape and structure. Sugar consumed in this form can also cause blood sugar spikes, which can increase inflammation within the body and cause acne breakouts and exacerbate issues like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
- Inflammatory Foods: Processed meats, fried food, high amounts of alcohol, soda, candy, and refined grains are all considered foods that can increase inflammation in the body. Gluten and dairy can cause issues for some as well. You may also want to consider your sources for fat. Highly processed refined vegetable oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it can cause inflammation if it’s not met with an appropriate level of omega-3 fatty acids (fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, etc.).
- Stress: Chronic stress can lead to a plethora of issues, one being candida (yeast) overgrowth and issues with the digestive system - which we know plays a major role in what our hair, skin, and nails look like. When stress is present, the body naturally produces a higher level of cortisol. Cortisol increases sugar in the bloodstream and since candida feeds off of sugar, it can grow at a rapid rate. It can also alter the immune system’s ability to respond appropriately.
- Medications & Antibiotics: While medications and antibiotics have their place in today’s approach to health, they can most certainly have an effect on the body - and it’s not always positive. Not only can some have unknown side-effects, but many can cause digestive or hormonal imbalances, which most certainly can manifest itself in the hair, skin, and nails. Painkillers can actually reduce your glutathione levels, which is considered one of the body’s most important antioxidants and detoxifiers. They can also be quite taxing on organs like the kidney and liver, which we need for removing toxins in the body.
- Toxic Products: Your skin is your biggest organ and it absorbs what you put on it. Think about all the products you use in a day - lotions, makeup, soaps, cleaners, laundry detergents, body sprays - the list is long! Our skin absorbs those ingredients and they enter our bloodstream. Products that contain harsh chemicals, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance can wreak havoc on our hormones and can even begin to accumulate in the body… you don’t want that in your system! Your skin needs to be able to excrete toxins and protect your body from intruders, so don’t bog it down with toxic products.
10 Ways to Improve Your Hair, Skin, & Nails
If you are thinking, “I do a lot of those things!”... don’t worry! Now you know and can do better like I did! Wellness is a journey; it requires baby steps to create major lifestyle changes over time.
Here are some things you can start implementing to help support your integumentary system.
- Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. Eat fruits and vegetables every day! There are so many delicious options - peaches, pineapple, mangos, berries, oranges, apples, pumpkin, broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, etc. You can also include things like chia seeds, flaxseeds, beans, chickpeas, lean proteins like turkey and salmon, eggs, herbs, and healthy fats like avocado oil and ghee.
- Consume antioxidants regularly. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals, which can cause illness and aging. High amounts of antioxidants can be found in these foods: goji berries (aka wolfberries), blueberries, pecans, dark chocolate, artichokes, elderberries, kidney beans, cranberries, cilantro, clove, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, dried parsley, basil, ginger, and thyme. Another great source is Young Living’s NingXia Red drink. It’s made with a wolfberry puree along with juice from blueberries, plums, cherries, aronia berries, and pomegranates - AND a proprietary blend of essential oils, which also contain antioxidants.
- Choose healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods. The best sources for healthy fats include things like avocados, raw or organic grass-fed butter, omega-3 rich fish like wild-caught salmon or anchovies, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil. You may also want to include dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, or collards. If this is difficult for you, consider adding Young Living’s OmegaGize³ and MultiGreens to your supplement stash!
- Support your gut. Microbiome imbalances in the gut can translate to unhealthy inflammatory responses in the skin. Choose foods rich in probiotics to help support a healthy level of good bacteria in the gut - things like kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, miso, raw milk, and brine-cured olives. You may also want to consider taking a probiotic supplement daily. Young Living has a highly potent one called Life 9 that contains 17 billion live cultures from nine beneficial bacteria strains.
- Drink sufficient water daily. Dehydration can lead to dry and itchy skin, brittle nails, loss of skin elasticity, and more. You should strive to drink half your body in ounces per day. Add a citrus Vitality oil of your choice to boost the flavor and add some antioxidants!
- Support your detoxification pathways. Your liver and kidney are two of your body’s major detoxifying organs. You need them to be working properly in order to remove toxins and even do things like excrete excess hormones so your skin can display a healthy inflammatory response. Two Young Living products that come to mind are JuvaPower, which supports healthy liver function, and K&B tincture, which supports normal kidney and bladder function.
- Monitor your exposure to harmful UV rays. While exposure to sunlight has its benefits, it is important to note that overexposure to UV rays can cause skin to age prematurely and even cause damage to hair and nails. It can also increase your risk for skin cancer. Consider using Young Living’s Mineral Sunscreen, which is free of harsh chemicals and made with zinc oxide. (Most sunscreen is toxic and guess what...have ingredients that cause cancer!)
- Mitigate stress levels. Stress can trigger inflammation and accelerate the aging process. Find ways to incorporate rest and relaxation into your schedule, allowing your body to get the proper sleep it needs. Some of my favorite essential oils to encourage a calming atmosphere are Stress Away, Peace & Calming, Frankincense, and Northern Lights Black Spruce. You can diffuse/inhale them or apply them topically.
- Choose non-toxic products. To reduce the amount of toxins your body is exposed to, consider using clean products from Young Living. Their products will never contain formaldehyde, artificial dyes, petroleum, mineral oil, sulfates, or parabens. Young Living has an entire line of personal care products like lotions, soaps, dental care, hair care, makeup, and more! You can even find replacements for your household cleaners and laundry soaps in the Thieves line.
- Implement quality supplements. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to get all the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need, so we supplement. But not all supplements are created equally. Young Living’s are all backed by their Seed to Seal quality commitment and infused with premium essential oils to increase their bioavailability in the body. Choose some great skin-loving supplements like these to add to your routine - Sulfurzyme (we will talk about more in depth next), Mineral Essence (contains royal jelly!), Super C, Super B, Agilease (contains collagen and turmeric), Golden Turmeric, and Thyromin (supports the thyroid). Oh! And did you know that Young Living’s meal replacement, Balance Complete, has zinc and biotin in it? Both of those are two wonderfully supportive nutrients for healthy hair, skin, and nails!
Scott and I both take all of these. They are recommended by our naturopathic doctor and another health professional we see says, "We are turning back time as we age." We get healthier as we grow older which is EXACTLY what I want to do!
Sulfurzyme: Wolfberry + MSM
Speaking of implementing quality supplements into your routine, let’s talk about one that is perfect for supporting the integumentary system - Sulfurzyme. Scott & I have been taking daily since 2017! It supports joint health, aids the immune system, and helps support normal metabolic function, circulation, and bone, hair, and skin health. It can even help support recovery time of joints after exercise. How cool is that?! It’s definitely one you are going to want to keep on hand and the supplement I recommend the most. (Our horses get this one daily, too!)
Remember how I said wolfberries (goji berries) contain antioxidants? Well, Sulfurzyme is made with Ningxia wolfberry fruit powder! It’s also made with MSM, a dietary sulfur that can encourage a healthy inflammatory response in the body. It’s also a naturally-occurring antioxidant that supports collagen and keratin production, two proteins you need for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Take 2 capsules 2 times daily or as needed 1 hour before or after meals.
(I personally take 4 per day and Scott takes 6 on average.)
Life 9: Highly Potent Probiotic
Before I wrap things up, let’s talk a little more in depth about a supplement I mentioned earlier - Life 9. It’s a highly potent probiotic that supports healthy immune function, helps maintain optimal metabolism, and promotes normal intestinal function. With 17 billion live cultures from nine beneficial bacteria strains, it’s the perfect way to support your gut health.
If you take a look at the list of ingredients, you’ll notice that the majority of the probiotic strains come from the Lactobacillus genus, which means they are lactic-acid producing bacteria. This acid is necessary to maintain proper pH of the skin. I know we often think that skincare is just topical - but it goes much deeper than that! Support your gut and you should notice a difference everywhere else.
We both take this and I use it for the horses, too!
Take 1 capsule every night following a meal or as needed. For best results, take 1 capsule 8 hours after using Inner Defense, another incredible immune-supporting supplement.
Get the Best Deal
Your body is an amazing web of intricate systems, all working together for one goal - to keep you alive and well - and feeling amazing, of course. If you want healthy hair, skin, and nails, it’s important to give the integumentary system all the support it needs - from the inside, out! I hope this blog post left you feeling more equipped to do just that.
I mentioned two main supplements from Young Living plus a few other things that make it super simple to support this system so let me tell you the most cost effective way to get them!
To get the best deal, order 100PV or more to get the first free gift from Young Living. Also, if you set up Subscribe to Save (autoship), you'll get 10% cash back the first 3 months and 20% until you've been on it for 2 years, then we get 25% cash back.
We've been on STS since 2017. I love giving our money to YL to buy safe products with no harmful side effects - safe for us, our pets and our environment. We are on the road a lot and it's easy to change the order date each month and shipping address depending on where we are! (Even horse camping in AZ in the winter.)
Simply search for what you'd like to try and add it to Shop or STS. It takes 60-90 days for our cells to completely regenerate so I always recommend setting up a protocol and following it for at least 3 months to see results. (You can cancel STS anytime so there is no risk in saving extra money!)
I'll be your personal YL wellness coach and personal shopper from here on out. I can share lots of testimonials on many different health challenges to help get you where you want to be.
In the comments - Tell me ONE THING you learned from today’s blog post!
Blessings over your health!
A Few Side Notes:
Information obtained here is meant for educational and informational purposes ONLY, and to motivate and empower you to make your own wellness journey based on your own research and partnership with your healthcare provider.
The statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.