Could it be your Thyroid?




I have had a few requests for some information in regard to thyroid function and how it relates to the skin.

First, what role does the Thyroid play? Your thyroid gland is your body regulator – it controls your metabolism. If there is an imbalance of your thyroid hormones, it will affect every metabolic function in your body.

Your Thyroid gland and the hormones it produces play a role in the following:

  1. Tissue repair and development
  2. Aids in the function of mitochondria (cell energy)
  3. Assists with digestion
  4. Controls hormone secretion
  5. Modulates blood flow
  6. Modulates protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism
  7. Regulates energy and heat production
  8. Stimulates protein synthesis
  9. Regulates growth
  10. Modulates muscle and nerve action

The different types of hormones your thyroid produces are:

  1. Diiodothyronine (T2)
  2. TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
  3. Thyroxine (T4)
  4. Triiodothyronine (T3)

T4 is 80% of your thyroid glands production and is converted to T3 in your liver or kidneys. T3 is 5 times more active than T4.

T4 can be converted into reverse T3 which is stored and inactive. If you take too much synthetic T4 this will be more common. T2 will increase  your metabolic rate of muscles and fat.

Reverse T3 is a measurement of inactive thyroid functions and has only 1% of the activity of T3 and is considered an antagonist of T3. The most common reason that reverse T3 levels increase, is stress. Cortisol levels rise and in situations where stress is constant, these levels remain high and the production of reverse T3 is possible. A common symptom in people with high reverse T3 is weight gain. You may also experience a drop in body temperature which slows the action of many enzymes in your body and leads to a syndrome known as, ‘multiple enzyme dysfunction’.

Many pathology tests ordered by your physician may only indicate levels of TSH, however, if you have any of the following symptoms, you may be requiring an entire pathology panel to indicate levels of free T4, free T3 and reverse T3.

We can take supplements to aid in the conversion of T4 to T3 (please seek dosage advice from Naturopath) :

Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin B6, B12, Iron (if low-blood test required), Vitamin D and Iodine have all been found to be helpful.

So how is your skin affected with low levels of Thyroid hormones?

  • Brittle nails
  • Coarse, dry  hair
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Elbow Keratosis
  • Loss or thinning of eyelashes
  • Loss of lateral one-third of eyebrows
  • Puffy face
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Yellowish colouring of the skin

I advise you speak to an Integrative Physician or Naturopath to see if you may be a candidate for having low thyroid function (Hypothyroidism). Your skin is a great indicator of your internal health and if it is feeling rough, dry, and itchy, and you are losing large amounts of hair on a daily basis, then I suggest you may need to check on your Thyroid levels. This condition is so common today and we have to look at our diet to consider if this plays a role in suppressing this important gland along with a natural Thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

Please note this is not a medical diagnosis, if you feel you suffer with any of the symptoms listed, please seek Medical advice for correct diagnosis.


UV generated free radicals in skin: Do you think your skin is safe with Self Tanning products?

Do you think you are safe from harmful UV rays and free radical damage when wearing Self Tanning products? Maybe not…….

Lets start at the beginning. What are Free Radicals?

We are exposed to trillions of FR’s every day and they are produced by the body to aid in many of our metabolic processes; such as digestion and conversion of food into energy. We need them for many of our body’s natural processes, however, when we are exposed to too many, they become an enemy to our health. This is how many diseases start and thrive, so it would be fair to say that if we were to reduce the amount we are exposed to, we would then be healthier and our skin would not age prematurely. Within the skin, FR’s breakdown our skins proteins and reduce the oxygen supply to our cells.

Think of a cut apple that is left for a period of time, it turns brown and this is a sign that the apple has oxidised – free radicals are at work.

In a lab study in Germany, it was found that skin exposed to UV radiation while wearing self tanning products were exposed to 180% additional free radicals causing accelerated skin ageing! (Gematria Test Lab, Berlin, Germany. 2008 Jung K, Seifert M, Herrling T, Fuchs J)

We have always known that skin exposed to large amounts of UV radiation induces structural and cellular changes in all skin tissue compartments. The generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is the first consequence of UV exposure while the reaction of free radicals during sun exposure is crucial for us in understanding the effects of dermatological photo damage.

Self Tanning products contain an active agent known as; dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and is a colourless sugar that interacts with skin cells in the upper layers of the skin. As this sugar interacts with the amino acids in the skin cells, a colour change will occur and can last up to 7 days. This reaction is known as a Maillard Reaction and leads to the formation of Amadori Products that we now understand generate free radicals within the skin during sun exposure.

With tanned skin being a fashion statement with many cultures, we must understand that direct sun exposure with an unprotected skin will put the skin at risk of developing skin cancers and premature ageing. Now, with the popular use of topical Self Tanning products, we also put the skin at risk of accelerated ageing when exposed to the sun.

With this study demonstrating that we can prevent free radicals generation by using sunscreens and yet induce FR’s by wearing self tanning products, I would suggest that when using a self tanning product, it would also be wise to also use a sunscreen when exposed to the sun in the hottest part of the day.

Damage occurs even with incidental exposure which is the most common cause of sun damage on the skin. A good example of this is to take note of the side of your face that is exposed to the sun when driving your car or even as a passenger if you do this more often. Depending on where you reside, you will have one side of your face and one arm that shows accelerated ageing and damage due to the incidental exposure of driving in a car.

A sign of FR damage is skin texture that is rough, dry and a signs of pigmentation, or brown marks throughout the skin, and a compromised immune system. We normally associate these signs with ageing, however, with long term exposure this will occur in a younger age than normal.

With the coming summer months (Southern Hemisphere) it is time to start putting sun protection into practice to prevent the chances of skin cancers developing and allowing the skins immune system to work at protecting the skin.

Can you see signs of Free radical damage on your skin? Leave a comment and tell me what you see on your skin.

Oncology Esthetics – A rewarding journey


A very rewarding experience at Oncology Esthetics training.

My past week has been spent in Australia’s beautiful city of Sydney and a very rewarding and at some times, challenging experience. The world of Oncology is one that is life changing for all involved, from the patients, to the carers and the health care professionals that tirelessly care for these people.

A cancer diagnosis is life changing and as one navigates through the surgical intervention and the bio therapies many find a shift in physical and emotional health.

I have spent the past 30+ years enjoying my role as a skin care professional and loving the fact that I can and do make a difference in peoples lives, albeit, seemingly on a very superficial level. Well, have I just had a wake up call!

Firstly, I knew that I wanted to do more, and I think maturity and experience drives you in many different directions. I love the health care industry and even though there are many specialties within the industry, my passion is more on the side of empowering people to feel nurtured and good about themselves. This directed me to enquire about different ways my specialty can involve working with clients who deal with many psycho social issues, hence, the #Oncology Esthetics course being presented to me.

Within the complexities of training, we were blessed with treating an inspirational group of women (+ 1 male, thank you Ron), who were in varying stages of their treatment of cancer. These people were absolutely amazing and had us either laughing with their wonderful sense of humour (thank you Jan), and also in tears as we realised that life has very different meaning when you are faced with a potentially life changing experience.

While going through treatment, these people crave many different things, but the common denominator, was ‘touch’. Now, in the past, we, and I mean Skin Care Professionals, are told we are not to touch any cancer patient as this may interfere with their treatment. I can now confidently say and will be putting into practice, that there are many ways we can alter our treatments to accommodate this clientele.

Considering that ALL patients we consulted, had similar skin concerns, there is a HUGE role we can play as Skin Care Professionals and I cannot wait to put my new found training into practice for those that choose to be treated either during or after treatment.

“The purpose of a complementary therapy is not to treat the cancer itself but to treat the person as a whole”.

Our wonderful educator, Morag Currin came all the way from Canada to train the 30 attendees from all parts of Australia. Morag shared so much more than the science behind cancer and treatments, but also her invaluable experience working with clients being diagnosed with cancer. Modalities such as LED (thank you Jennifer Brodeur, #MaxLed Technologies), and great skin care products, (thank you #Dermaviduals) are allowing Skin Care Professionals to accommodate cancer clients within their clinics.

Future posts will accommodate information pertaining to treating the skin of  clients either going through treatment of having completed their treatment. If you have questions for yourself or for a loved one, or clients, please leave a comment.

If you are out of Australia, you can go on to to find certified aesthetician in your area.

Vitamin B3 and treating skin pigmentation

With the fast approach of our warmer months (southern hemisphere) and the last rays of summer in the northern hemisphere, it is worthwhile mentioning an effective way of treating skin pigmentation. Without harping on about wearing a sunscreen,which we all know is an absolute must to prevent this condition, I wanted to share a fantastic ingredient we now find in most good skin care ranges.

Niacinamide is a physiologically active derivative of Vitamin B3 and works at decreasing melanosome (pigment) transfer within our skin and is effective with all skin colours. Not only does it decrease skin pigmentation, it also boosts the skins immune system which can be suppressed when exposed to ultra violet radiation and helps with the repair of the skins barrier function (see previous post, Do you have sensitive skin? Then Your Barriers are down… Sept 5th 2012), by increasing synthesis of skin lipids.

This wonderful cosmetic ingredient has been noted in various double blind studies and the percentages have ranged from 4% – 10% with results well worth taking notice of. I prescribe products containing Niacinamide to 100% of my clients and ask they use it in the morning. If their skin is hyper sensitive, I suggest they use it morning and night until we see an improvement. I include it in all my protocols to treat skin conditions such as; Rosacea, Acne, Eczema, Photo Aged and also post cancer treatments when the skin has hyper sensitivity due to barrier function impairment from medications. When the skin has been affected with post inflammatory hyper pigmentation, this is my priority ingredient. I then reassess my protocol as the skin begins to repair and present less inflamed.

I would love to know what your thoughts are of this ingredient, are you currently using a product containing #Niacinamide? Have you noticed changes with your skin?

If you think your skin has any of these conditions, I cannot recommend a product with this ingredient in it fast enough. Try it and let me know what your results are.

Do you have sensitive skin? Then your barriers are down…..

I thought todays topic applicable as this was our topic of discussion in class today.

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear students and clients claiming to really dislike their oily skin, I always ask why is this ? Their response is varied and not usually justified. The oil we secrete has a definitive purpose, and the purpose is not to annoy us, contrary to what most people believe. Our skin secretes sebum to provide a protective barrier against microbial invasion and environmental elements to name a few. When we constantly remove this barrier as we do with harsh cosmetics, or extreme environmental factors, our skin is unable to provide this protection. People with oily skin  are tempted to use cosmetics containing harsh detergent like ingredients and become addicted  to the ‘squeaky clean’ feeling. This feeling is due to the removal of the skin barrier by harsh detergent based cleansers which do not separate between sebum/oil and intercellular lipids and thus damages the barrier function leading to a skin that is sensitive and reactive. Have you ever used a product that has left your skin feeling red,tight and irritated? It is highly likely you have used a product that has removed the skins protective barrier. It has previously been reported that it may take up to 36 hours for the skin to replace the barrier function and restore the skins delicate pH. If you use a harsh product like this long term you are putting  your skin at risk of long term barrier function impairment, a skin that is highly sensitive, reactive and at risk of further damage. I also find these skin conditions are prone to conditions like Rosacea, especially if it is in your family.  Be kind to your skin and embrace your oil by using cosmetics that maintain the surface oil and protective barrier.

Ingredients that assist with the repair of the skins barrier should be considered for a more healthier functioning skin and less sensitive skin:

  • Niacinamide/Vitamin B3
  • Ceramides & Cholesterols
  • Panthenol/Vitamin B5
  • Dimethicone
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Macadamia Oil