Continuing from where we stopped in my skin bleaching drama.
By now, I was too ashamed to leave my house, but that didn't stop my brother and friends, bleachers and non-bleachers alike, male and female from coming to my house just to look at my face, laugh their heads off and head home immediately afterward. My friends and I are that kind of brutal, we laugh at each other over the most insane things, it is just what we do, we’ve been friends for so long, boundaries have disappeared never to be found again. It was so hilarious that after the initial bout of tears, I had to join in on the joke and even considered charging admission as I had now become comic relief.
I had finally learned my lesson, warned my bleaching adviser to leave me alone with my blackness, tossed the cream and all other related paraphernalia into the bin, embraced my natural God-given skin and begun the very long, expensive journey into repairing the damage, one of my best decisions EVER!!
The way we disrespect and take our skin for granted is ridiculous, especially since it is the largest and one of the most important organs of the body. It is in fact made up of several different components, including water, protein, lipids (fats), and different minerals and chemicals. With or without our permission, throughout the course of our lives, it will undergo changes, some for the better and others for worse. So it is imperative that we properly take care of it in order to maintain its health and vitality because of the important roles it plays in the body’s system. If that isn’t enough reason to for you, then ponder this: your skin’s health can be an indicator of your general state of wellness. What does that even mean? If you have a rash or inflammation or irritation or wounds that refuse to heal or your skin is just dehydrated and ashy no matter how much you moisturize it or you deal with really bad acne, any one of these issues may have a deeper underlying medical reason which needs to be diagnosed and treated before your skin can return to its usual healthy state.
The skin also performs some vital functions which include:
1. Protection: It is a protecting membrane, basically our first line of defense to stop external toxins from destroying our organs and provides immune functions that protect against infections with the ability to identify and destroy potentially harmful substances.
2. Absorption: Small amounts of vitamins, nitrogen, oxygen, acids, carbon dioxide, water etc. which help provide moisture and nourishment are absorbed through the 1000's of pores on the skin's surface, which is why and how creams, oils etc. get absorbed into the skin….they are pretty much sucked in through those pores.
3. Excretion: Toxins are released through our sweat glands, making the skin our largest waste removal system.
4. Secretion: It secretes a mixture of oils known as sebum which helps keep the skin soft and supple. The outermost layer we all mess with is known as the acid mantle and it is designed to remain acidic in order to protect the skin from external invasion with a P.H range of 4.5-5.5 when it is intact.
5. Regulation: The glands in the skin regulate the whole body's temperature through sweating i.e. when the water part of sweat evaporates it gives off heat and cools the body.
6. Sensation: The skin holds the most i.e. millions of nerve endings that transport stimuli and allow us to detect sensations e.g. heat, cold, pain, and pressure.
7. Storage: It stores water, lipids and Vitamin D which it also produces.
So evidently, the skin provides a greater function far beyond aesthetic appeal and what we immediately see and by sheer virtue of the number of functions it provides, it is first and foremost an extremely vital human organ. Its integrity should not be compromised for any reason, you wouldn’t deliberately mess with your heart, would you? So why play with your skin? It is an important organ too, just like the heart, lungs, eyes etc. and like any other vital organ, when it is compromised there will be issues, you may not see them manifest immediately but they are coming!
The skin is made up of 3 basic layers with different functions, allow me to break it down so you can see how important every single layer is:
1. The Epidermis (Visible outer layer): This is the thinnest layer with a huge responsibility! Its job is to protect us from the harshness of the environment and its comprised of 5 layers of its own special brand of very important cells (this is the layer lightening creams target and successfully destroys) i.e. Keratinocytes, producers of keratin the main component of the dermis, Melanin which give skin, eyes and hair their colors and the Langerhans cells which prevent unwanted elements from entering the skin.
New skin cells are also made here, right at the bottom and they travel to the top layer and flake off around 4 weeks after they are formed; known as the skin regeneration cycle. I’m sure you’ve heard “give it 4-6 weeks before you notice changes” when you start a new skin care regime, this is the reason. You must give whatever you are using the time to do what it needs to do and why no product that is good for you, in the long run, can have any marked changes in a short time.
Some issues e.g. stretch marks, scars, skin damage, sunburn etc. will need multiple cycles to effect real change and you cannot change biology nor hurry nature, so when you hear clear black knuckles/stretch marks/sunburn in 7 days….you need to run and let your heels hit your ears as we say in Yoruba land, because to borrow The House of Stark motto; Winter is Coming.....for your skin!! I’m not saying those things won’t work o, don’t misunderstand me, you will see changes almost overnight but those are short term, false improvements and like all Greek gifts there will most likely be issues to come.
To illustrate what I'm trying to say is this incident with one of my unapologetic bleacher friends, by golly, she loves her bleaching creams. I got to her house and her hands were black, ashy, hard, scaly...in short, in comparison to her all-white body they looked scary. So she asked for my help and I gave her a blend of oils, which helped and they begun to heal as she herself confirmed, but not fast enough for her, so in her usual way, she heard about a 7-day solution and sharply bought it. A few days into it, all the blackness was gone and her hands had become so white they looked translucent, almost ghost-like. But to her, that meant the miracle oil was working well, she wiggled her hands in front of my face, laughing at and to quote her directly; my “time wasting natural oils, who has time for all that?”. A month or so later, she ran to my house in a panic, the blackness was back, blacker and harder than when it first started, but now peeling and blistering had joined the matter....I just carried my face!
2. The Dermis (The usually unseen middle layer): Made up of blood vessels, hair follicles and the sebaceous glands which produce the oil that keeps skin soft, smooth and waterproof to give that suppleness, plumpness and just general juiciness of healthy skin, no announcements needed, the skin just glows. Sometimes, this oil is produced in excess and that is what causes acne, pimples etc. It is also where wrinkles form, primarily as a result of the aging process but also from unavoidable damage mainly from the sun or environment, However, in certain cases, it is self-caused when we use inadequate or wrong for our skin type or just plain harmful skincare products or inadequate/wrong/damaging regimens. The dermis is also where pain touch receptors are located and where both Collagen and Elastin are synthesized by fibroblast cells.
3. The Hypodermis/Subcutis (The fatty layer): Is the host for sweat glands, other Collagen cells and its main functions are to conserve body heat and protect our vital inner organs. When the tissue in this layer is reduced or degraded for any reason like age, environment, chemicals etc. the skin begins to sag, which is one of the most visible and apparent signs of aging and premature aging, and its unfortunately increasingly common nowadays.
At a fair, a while back, a lady asked what she could use for her skin and she looked around my age but with damage, blemishes, deep wrinkles, blotches etc. so I said “oh that’s easy, we are around the same age I guess, anti-aging and skin repair is my thing…we’ve got you” with a huge grin on my face. She asked how old I was and I said 42,she said "Really? You're 42?" I said yes and I saw her eyes go wide and sadness wash over her, by now I was worried, it was obvious I had somehow put my foot in it and I mentally kicked myself for making her uncomfortable and now it was awkward, she whispered to me “I am 31”. I then realized that what I was seeing was actually premature aging due to harmful chemicals, she told me herself unprompted how she'd used them for years but had stopped a few months back. I assured her she could repair her skin and not to be sad, everything would be alright but it would take time and dedication.
I'm just curious as to why people have such a problem with their natural skin color, (I have been guilty of it too as evidenced in my last post) it is not a multiple choice thing that you can choose at birth, it is directly determined by Melanin production in the skin, so what is this Melanin?
Melanin’s main function is to protect us from the sun’s radiation (which can be carcinogenic), by deflecting or absorbing its rays to fight against UV damage or even worse the dreaded Melanoma (Skin cancer). It also determines our skin’s complexion, hair and eye color and is determined by genes, nutrition and environmental factors. It occurs in 2 main forms i.e. Eumelanin is black and brown and Pheomelanin gives a red color. Our bodies produce more melanin with increased exposure to the sun, which gives the skin a darker hue, this darkness is for protection, its not a fashion accessory. When we lack of melanin cells, that is Albinism and when the skin loses pigmentation due to destruction of melanocytes (the pigment-forming cells), well that is Vitiligo. It takes around 10 days after initial sun exposure for melanin synthesis to peak, and that’s why people with pale-skin tend to get sunburn quicker, also why statistically, people of European ancestry are 10 times more likely to develop melanoma than those of African ancestry. Funny enough, we all have the same number of melanin producing cells but how much they produce is dependent on the genes we inherit from our parents, so if you don’t like your complexion take it up with your parents! We just have to develop more self love, understand that we are amazing no matter what shade our skin is, beauty as they say is only skin deep, we are more than our skin and all those other cliches which are actually true.
We'll continue next post, plus we have some information we think you'll like.....all will be revealed soon so stay ready, its great news. If you haven't subscribed to our newsletter yet, you may want to do so ASAP and add us to your inbox or you'll miss out on what's coming.
Anyways, I have got to go...things to do, naps to take,TV to watch...you know....weekend things!
We only have one body, when we treat it well it returns the favor.