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detoxification and skin health

detoxification and skin health
Posted in: skin health

Carly Seager (RD) X Dermalogica

Organs and systems such as our liver, lymphatic system, digestive system, kidneys, lungs and skin all make up a wonderful “cleaning service” inside our bodies that works 24/7 to keep us functioning at our best, keep our skin glowing and keep chronic disease at bay.

We can influence how effectively this “cleaning service” or detoxification process works, by either burdening or supporting the system through dietary, nutrition, lifestyle and environmental factors.

In today’s modern industrial age we are exposed to all sorts of toxins that our detoxification system has to break down and eliminate each and every day. From alcohol, cigarettes, pollution, drugs and medication, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals to chemicals in our tap water, plastic products, cleaning and beauty products, toxin exposure is pretty impossible to completely avoid!

Our liver is the sergeant major of the detoxification process, and it has a major role to play in filtering the above toxins out of the blood and lymphatic fluid all day, every day. Your entire body, including the brain, skin, heart and eyes depends on your liver to function optimally and maintain good health.

What could it look like if your liver is not quite operating at its best? Sluggish detoxification processes and liver function can manifest in several different physical symptoms including some or all of the following:

- Acne or breakouts

- Dull and lacklustre skin

- Eczema

- Low energy and chronic fatigue

- Headaches

- Weight gain or weight loss resistance

- Sore and stiff joints

- Poor sleep

- Difficulty concentrating

- Poor memory or brain fog and

- Hormonal symptoms, such as severe premenstrual symptoms and heavy periods

Over time sluggish detoxification pathways may lead to more serious chronic disease conditions, including cancers.

Liver detoxification occurs on a cellular level in two major phases. During phase one detoxification, the liver activates fat-soluble toxins and prepares them for phase two detoxification, where the activated toxins get converted by many powerful enzymes into water-soluble by-products and are eliminated via the stool, urine and sweat. What is interesting is that the efficacy of these two phases is influenced by genetics and thus is variable between individuals. Due to genetic variations, some people are predisposed to have naturally better functioning detoxification pathways than others, influencing how quickly they can excrete toxins and prevent potential toxin accumulation in the body.

Suffering from poor digestive health, specifically constipation, or irregular bowel movements, has a significant impact on our overall health and is particularly detrimental to the overall efficiency of the detoxification process. Once the liver has done its remarkable job of breaking down toxins, it is the responsibility of our gut to get rid of these processed toxins as quickly as possible, through regular (at least daily) bowel movements.

eat, the beverages we drink and the lifestyle we live affects our detoxification capacity and could do with making a few changes in these areas to give our amazing liver a helping hand.

The liver needs sufficient provision of “cleaning materials” to get its job done proficiently. These materials are all readily available to us, provided we make smart nutrition choices. They consist of: lots of clean, filtered water, vitamins such as B complex vitamins, minerals such as magnesium and zinc, amino acids from protein foods as well as antioxidants sourced from an abundance of plant foods. These substances act almost like light switches, and help to improve the production and function of liver enzymes and the entire liver detoxification pathway.

There are many myths and misconceptions in the health and wellness space regarding detoxification, and what often pops to mind for many, is a strict juice cleanse, detox program, detox pills, teas or other costly products. These interventions may actually cause more harm than good in most cases.

It is important to note that there is no magic pill or diet that can replace the function of the detoxification system or reserve a huge insult to the liver, but we can do a lot to help our livers and detoxification pathways function more effectively on a daily basis.

My top lifestyle and nutrition recommendations to support liver function:

- Drink plenty of clean, preferably filtered water

- Avoid smoking + second hand smoke

- If you do drink alcohol, be mindful of quantity and frequency

- Minimise the use of plastic products

- Minimise or avoid the intake of burnt or chargrilled foods

- Switch from conventional cleaning and personal care products to non-toxic alternatives

- Move your body frequently

- Try dry body brushing

- Increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables + allium vegetables

- Ensure the frequent intake of, preferably organic, protein-containing foods.

- Include food sources of B vitamins

- Look after your gut health and ensure regular, preferably daily bowel movements

The above dietary, lifestyle and environmental recommendations can decrease the burden on the liver and support its optimal function. Looking after your liver and detoxification pathways can assist with achieving clearer, brighter and glowing skin from the inside out and you may also experience several other health benefits including improved energy, concentration and better sleep!

Food is not just energy or calories; food contains powerful chemical messengers that communicate with and affect the functioning of every gene, enzyme, cell, tissue, organ and biological system in our body. Thinking about this may help you to make better decisions about what you choose to put on your plate, into or onto your body.


Assisting the body’s natural detoxification process from within is essential but assisting the skin’s natural detoxification process is just as important. In recent times, more research continues to surface linking air pollution to accelerated skin ageing, as early as our 30s. Studies have drawn a link between exposure to air pollution and inflammation in the skin. This results in a process referred to as inflammaging, where chronic inflammation results in damaging effects that eventually lead to prematurely ageing skin.

Daily superfoliant:

• Contains activated Binchotan charcoal which absorbs + detoxifies pollutants from the skin, preventing molecules from entering our skin and causing inflammaging.

• Removes dulling dead skin cells from the outermost layers of the skin, assisting with the skin renewal process for a healthier skin barrier.

Skin hydrating booster:

• Hydration is a key element in skin detoxification.

• Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient that hydrates + locks moisture into the skin.

• Skin hydrating booster aids the skin’s hydration levels + has a lightweight gel texture suitable for all skin types.

**Disclaimer. The advice and information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not replace the individualized advice from a healthcare provider. Always speak to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle. Dermalogica / Carly Seager cannot be held liable for any injury or harm experienced from implementing any of the suggested recommendations.

9 June 2022
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