Can you detoxify the skin? Admittedly, the idea behind it sounds brilliant: with a 3-day skin detox, simply press the “reset” button and – boom! Our dull, impure (dry? oily?) complexion miraculously transforms back into flawless baby skin. Absolutely clear: we’re there! But there is a catch. Detoxification through the skin works differently than we often imagine. What is detox for the skin really all about? Now let's take a closer look.
Detox skin: This is really behind Detox for the skin!
Skin Detox: Can you detoxify the skin?
You may be familiar with this: If you're in a stressful phase, have resorted to alcohol too often or have gone overboard over the holidays, your skin is unrecognizable. The fact is - when our body has to deal with too many toxins such as nicotine, sugar, alcohol, etc., our once radiant complexion unfortunately often appears as if it has been turned off.
It's high time for a fresh start, aka: detox for the skin . The only problem is – from a medical point of view, we cannot detoxify through the skin . Wait a minute, what? We have broken down the topic in detail for you.
What detox really means for the skin
Our skin is exposed to harmful influences from the environment every day. These include air pollution, exhaust fumes, fine dust, cigarette smoke, but also UV rays.
The skin can detoxify , but only on one side - by reducing the penetration of environmental toxins, bacteria and viruses. It fulfills this task with the help of a healthy skin barrier.
Although our skin functions like a built-in protective shield against external pollutants, our body has its own special unit for excreting toxins . In the main roles: kidney and liver.
Sweat also has little to do with detox. The fact that sweat rids our bodies of accumulated toxins is a myth that has now been disproved by science. According to studies, two liters of sweat only contain a fraction of a nanogram (i.e. about 0.02 percent) of pollutants 1 .
To put it simply: It is true that environmental toxins and an unhealthy lifestyle have a negative impact on our skin. Detox for the skin primarily means protecting our skin from such influences. When it comes to pollutants, the skin is a one-way street. Toxins do not leave our body through the skin - however, they enter the body through the skin, among other things.
3 Ways Toxins Get Into Our Body
About digestion . Pesticides and heavy metals from food, drug residues in drinking water and medications (did you know, for example, that painkillers like paracetamol put an extreme strain on the liver?), but also alcohol can put a strain on our bodies.
About the respiratory tract . Pollutants from the air such as ozone, cigarette smoke and toxic fumes from solvents enter our body via the lungs and can then also be detected in the skin 2 .
About the skin . Aggressive cleaning products can contain substances that damage the barrier and cause allergies. Questionable dyes and bleaches in textiles have an irritating effect on the skin. And cosmetics with controversial ingredients such as nanoparticles or chemical sun protection filters (which, by the way, can sometimes have a hormonal effect) also put a strain on the body and skin health.
Bad skin caused by toxins – this is what toxins do to your skin!
If our organism is contaminated by harmful substances , it can usually be seen on our faces. Sudden pimples, dry, itchy areas of skin and a pale complexion are indications that our body is not in optimal balance at the moment.
We'll tell you right away what you can do to detoxify your skin. Let's first take a look at how harmful environmental influences affect the skin.
Do you need a few reasons to give up smoking once and for all? There are a few: Smoking damages the collagen fibers in the skin and hinders cell regeneration 3 . The toxins contained in cigarettes make the complexion appear grayish and pale, and they also promote the development of wrinkles and pigment spots .
Sunscreen is considered the best anti-aging weapon for good reason. The fact is – ultraviolet radiation is responsible for up to 80% of visible premature skin aging 4 . We're talking about wrinkles, age spots, loss of volume and, unfortunately, an increased risk of skin cancer.
Pollutants from UV light and air cause oxidative stress on the skin and cause the skin to age faster, especially when both occur in combination. Toxins from the air can damage our skin both directly via the surface of the skin and indirectly through inhalation 2 . Studies show that people who live in environments with high levels of environmental toxins have an overall higher risk of inflammatory reactions, dry skin and eczema 2 .
Fact: Too much sugar makes us look pretty old. Why is that? If we consume simple sugars (such as glucose or fructose), they react with certain proteins and lipids in the body. This creates glycation end products . These nasty anti-aging enemies “glue” our collagen fibers together, the skin becomes wrinkled and loses elasticity 5 . By the way, glycation end products also arise outside the body - they are found in the brown crust of fried, grilled or fried foods.
Unhealthy fats and simple carbohydrates
Does the following sound familiar? If you treat yourself to a few extra portions of chocolate or give in to fast food cravings, you can be almost certain that pimples and blemishes won't be long in coming. The fact is: Foods with a high glycemic index influence the insulin-like growth factor IGF-1, which plays a major role in the development of acne 6 . Fats are also linked to IGF-1. While trans fats and saturated fatty acids promote acne, 7 , unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids can relieve acne.
A real poison cocktail: Alcohol leaves visible traces on our skin. Studies show that increased alcohol consumption is associated with loss of facial volume and sunken skin. Because alcohol also negatively affects collagen formation and weakens the antioxidant shield, skin becomes more susceptible to oxidative stress 8 . And the list of disadvantages goes on. The vasodilator effect of alcohol often causes red veins on the face, which can even worsen into chronic rosacea .
Beautiful skin from the inside: This is how your built-in detox system works!
You see – your body (and your skin) is actually constantly exposed to potentially harmful substances and influences from the environment. Does that mean that detox cures have their right to exist? That depends on what you mean by detox. We'll show you below what you can do if you want to optimally support your completely natural detox system. But first: How does our body actually deal with pollutants?
This is what our detoxification organs do
Our entire respiratory tract filters the air we breathe. These include the lungs, nose, throat and bronchi. Dust particles and microorganisms are intercepted by cilia and secretions; coughing and sneezing support the self-cleaning process of the respiratory tract. Conversely, the lungs also remove toxic substances from the body through the air we breathe, e.g. B. the metabolites of alcohol, recognizable by the typical “flag”.
Kidneys also have a filter function. They cleanse the blood of toxins and ensure that they are excreted through the urine. They perform at their best: your kidneys filter your entire blood volume 300 times a day!
Your liver is a real detox hero and something like your body's own chemistry laboratory. It breaks down toxins and passes them on to the bile and intestines, where they are excreted. The liver also converts nutrients from food so that your body can use them.
The intestines house up to 80 percent of our body’s immune cells 9 . Toxic foods, pollutants, harmful bacteria, etc. are removed from the body in the digestive tract.
And finally: The skin – or better said, our skin barrier. An intact skin barrier represents a protective shield against microorganisms, foreign bodies and unwanted substances from outside. It does not direct toxins from the body to the outside, but is intended to prevent them from entering the organism at all.
Detox for the skin? With these 5 tips you can help your body and skin detoxify!
Just a quick reminder: Detoxifying your skin doesn't mean sweating your heart out in the sauna (since sweat has been proven to have no detoxifying function) or living solely on herbal tea for a week. Other detoxification organs are responsible for excreting toxins . If you want to detoxify your skin, the key word is: prevention.
1. Use cosmetics that are free of harmful substances.
If you know FIVE , you know: My skin care products consist of a maximum of five vegan and skin-friendly ingredients. For your skin health, we rely on organic cultivation of the vegetable oils we use, wherever possible. With gentle, minimalist skincare according to the FIVE philosophy, you can ensure that fewer pollutants get into your body and treat your skin to mild, feel-good care from nature.
2. Protect your skin when brushing.
Environmentally friendly cleaning products such as: B. Sonett brand products are generally better for your skin. If you don't use chemicals when buying cleaning products, you'll be doing your skin and the environment a favor. Avoid cleaning products that are sprayed on and wear gloves when cleaning - this will keep the strain on the respiratory tract and skin to a minimum. And lastly: If you use microfiber cloths, a smaller amount of product is usually sufficient.
3. Support detoxification of the body from within.
You are what you eat - this saying actually has a kernel of truth. If you ensure adequate fluid intake and make your body fit against oxidative stress by including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet, you can optimally support the work of your detoxification organs. The less processed foods and sugar you eat, the better it is for your skin. Also, choose organic foods wherever possible. They contain fewer pesticides.
By the way: You can support your kidneys in their work with diuretic teas (e.g. nettle tea and goldenrod tea). Bitter substances (such as in grapefruit, chicory, endive, artichokes or dandelion tea), on the other hand, have a stimulating effect on the liver and bile.
You can read more about supportive nutrition for beautiful skin in our article about anti-inflammatory nutrition .
4. Keep an eye on your nicotine and alcohol consumption.
If you want to detoxify your skin, you should see cigarettes and alcohol for what they are: poisons that can put a lot of strain on our bodies. We have already shown above what alcohol and the chemicals in cigarette smoke do to your skin. If you avoid such recreational toxins , you have perhaps completed the most important detox step for healthy, fresh skin.
5. Find the right balance of exercise and relaxation.
Sport stimulates the metabolism and can thus support the body's own detoxification processes . And sufficient sleep also acts like a detox treatment: your skin regenerates at night and your body recharges with new energy for the next day. Taken together, the right amount of exercise and relaxation are fantastic prerequisites for beautiful skin and powerful detoxification organs.
Conclusion: If you want to detoxify your skin, you don't need a detox treatment!
Detox for the skin and body is a controversial topic with many myths surrounding it. With this article we tried to shed some light on the matter. In a nutshell: You can detoxify your skin if you protect it from pollutants. On the one hand, with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, and on the other hand, by avoiding recreational toxins and treating yourself to high-quality, pure cosmetics with skin-friendly ingredients.
1. Imbeault, Pascal et al. “Can POPs be substantially popped out through sweat?.” Environment international vol. 111 (2018): 131-132. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2017.11.023
2. Araviiskaia, E et al. “The impact of airborne pollution on skin.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV vol. 33.8 (2019): 1496-1505. doi:10.1111/jdv.15583
3. Lipa, Katarzyna et al. “Does smoking affect your skin?” Postepy dermatologii i alergologii vol. 38.3 (2021): 371-376. doi:10.5114/ada.2021.103000
4. Amaro-Ortiz, Alexandra et al. “Ultraviolet radiation, aging and the skin: prevention of damage by topical cAMP manipulation.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 19.5 6202-19. 15 May 2014, doi:10.3390/molecules19056202
5. Nguyen, HP, and R Katta. “Sugar Sag: Glycation and the Role of Diet in Aging Skin.” Skin therapy letter vol. 20.6 (2015): 1-5.
6. Baldwin, Hilary, and Jerry Tan. “Effects of Diet on Acne and Its Response to Treatment.” American journal of clinical dermatology vol. 22.1 (2021): 55-65. doi:10.1007/s40257-020-00542-y
7. Melnik, Bodo C. “Linking diet to acne metabolomics, inflammation, and comedogenesis: an update.” Clinical, cosmetic and investigative dermatology vol. 8 371-88. July 15, 2015, doi:10.2147/CCID.S69135
8. Goodman, Greg D et al. “Impact of Smoking and Alcohol Use on Facial Aging in Women: Results of a Large Multinational, Multiracial, Cross-sectional Survey.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 12.8 (2019): 28-39.
9. Wiertsema, Selma P et al. “The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies.” Nutrients vol. 13.3 886. 9 Mar. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13030886