Sun, sea and relaxation: How maintaining healthy skin can help you to detox

A lady enjoying the magnesium pool at La Crisalida Retreats, health and wellbeing retreat, Spain, to cleanse the skin

At the retreat in Spain our guests enjoy all year around access to sun, sea and relaxation!  Ensuring a healthy environment is one of eight elements of the La Crisalida Programme and in this short article we consider how to maintain a healthy detox environment for your skin can enhance the body’s natural detox process.

The body’s skin has many important functions and provides physical protection to the body as part of the immune system.  Here are some facts about our skin:

  • Technically the skin is the largest organ in the body, at more than 10% of body mass
  • The skin is involved in synthesising a hormone called “Vitamin D” in the body through the absorption of natural sunlight
  • Only small amounts of “toxins” can be released through the skin, but harmful environmental “toxins” can be absorbed by the skin
  • Maximum sweat rate through the skin for an adult is between 2-4 litres per hour!


How do we know when we have healthy skin?

There are some real heath benefits of looking after our skin.  There are two things that are indicators of how effectively our skin can do its job:

  1. Hydration level

There are some basic cosmetic benefits of maintaining hydrated skin, as it can help avoid the appearance of wrinkles, and keep your skin more supple and resilient.  Other health benefits of keeping your skin hydrated include minimising the chance of excess oils building up on the skin.  The “moisture barrier” provided by the skin helps the body to retain water, defend against bacteria and help prevent environmental toxins entering the body.

    2. Skin oils

The sebaceous glands in our skin are responsible for producing the natural oils in our skin.  These oils help to prevent our skin from drying out, and to enable proper functioning of the skin cells and structures.  If we have unbalanced oils on our skin, the cells become malnourished and susceptible to unhealthy functioning and even disease.

The skin can often come into contact with chemicals and other toxic hazards from the external environment.  Sometimes these “toxins” will directly inflame the skin and/or alter skin hydration and oil balance, but they can also be passed through into the body through the circulatory system to impact the body’s inner tissues and organs. 


Tips on looking after your skin when relaxing

We have chosen some important tips below to help maintain healthy skin and allow the body to protect itself from these types of hazards and therefore decreasing the “toxic load”.

Tip 1:  Add natural minerals (especially magnesium) when bathing

Many of us will rely on a good soak in water to help us to relax – however, skin oil and hydration levels can be affected by what we add to the water.  For example, chlorinated swimming pool water can strip the skin of the outer layer of oils and can dry the skin out.  Similar issues can arise from excessive use of bubble bath or shower gels.

The benefits of bathing in mineral rich waters have been promoted for centuries all around the world.  Sea water, in particular, has been shown to help lessen excess inflammation in the body.  At the retreat, our guests can swim in our magnesium rich pool and Epsom (magnesium sulphate) salt bathwater can soften our skin and help to exfoliate dead skin cells.  The natural minerals found in Epsom salts have also been reported to reduce the effects of stress on the body, promote sleep, or reduce any pain and swelling.

Tip 2:  Spend time outdoors in the sun but protect your skin through applying mineral based sunscreens.

Getting outside and into the sun can be great for our wellbeing and help us to relax and connect with the outdoors.  As well as producing Vitamin D, moderate sunlight helps us to boost our serotonin hormone levels (serotonin is considered a natural mood stabiliser) and reduce the risk of depression.  However, it is well documented, that high doses of Ultraviolet radiation can create skin damage and promote skin cancer.  For more thoughts on sunbathing check out Tania’s article: Sunbathing, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Many sunscreens contain chemicals which are easily absorbed by the body and can disrupt hormone levels in the body.  We suggest sticking to more natural mineral based sunscreens where possible as the absorption levels into the circulatory system have been shown to be much less than other chemical based screens.

When you decide to spend time in the sun, also remember to keep your body and skin hydrated through drinking lots of water (we recommend 2-4 litres of water a day depending upon your level of physical activity) and eating water rich (ideally plant-based) foods. 

Tip 3:  Replace smoking with meditation to help you relax

Although some people use smoking to help them relax and enhance their short-term mental wellbeing (smoking involves deep breathing, which can help the body’s relaxation response), the health downsides of smoking are well documented.  Cigarette smoke reduces blood flow, leaving skin dry and discoloured and depletes many nutrients which helps protect and repair skin damage.  Look after your skin by saying no to smoking.

Tip 4:  Use natural products and pH balanced soaps/gels where you can

Many skin and makeup products contain chemicals that are harmful to the delicate balance of your skin.  pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance and the skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic.  Higher (or more alkaline) pH levels on the skin are associated with eczema, and fungal/bacterial infections.

Unfortunately, most soaps are alkaline, and so can disrupt the skin’s hydration and natural oil levels.  We would therefore suggest you consider pH balanced soaps, gels and moisturisers which typically have less harsh chemical bases and are slightly acidic.


Relax and rejuvenate with us at the retreat

Many of the activities which involve relaxation promote healthy skin.  At La Crisalida retreats, education is one of the eight elements of our holistic programme and we hope you have enjoyed learning about skin health and wellbeing here.  The La Crisalida Retreats programme includes activities that help our bodies to relax and provide healthy foods to allow our cells to rejuvenate.  Visit our webpage to find out more about our relax and rejuvenation retreats.

John