COLUMN: Understanding your skin

Today, more than ever, we are able to access technology and scientific research to help us make more informed choices about health and beauty. We now understand that beauty is not just skin deep: exercise, nutrition and our behaviour all impact our inner state of being, and ultimately our skin. Looking good has become an ‘holistic’ and ‘organic’ conversation; one that scrutinises nature and science.

It is therefore imperative that we have a basic understanding of our skin and its function in order to make informed choices about the products we use.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is the meeting place between the inner and outer world. It consists of two main layers, the top layer is the epidermis, the lower is the dermis, wherein lie sweat glands, oil secreting glands and blood vessels. Imagine the pores of your skin as little mouths with their own digestive system, what would you feed them?

The dermis contains collagen which gives the skin its elasticity. It is within the skin’s lower layers that new cells form and migrate to the epidermis, replacing dead and worn-out cells. It is our responsibility as a caring guardian of our own body to assist the skin in this natural function by keeping the skin clean and nourished.

The epidermis acts as protection and shelter to the more vulnerable lower tissue. It protects against bacteria entering the body and from overexposure to the sun. The skin is an excellent indicator as to how we feel and think and to gauge the compatibility of the food we put into our system. It will exhibit visual signs in response to the choices you make and actions you take.

To maintain optimum condition of the skin we should cleanse and nourish it daily using certified organic cleansers and moisturisers. Dead cells, sweat, dirt and bacteria must be removed – regular exfoliation is essential (every fourth day, or once a week for sensitive skin). 

The skin must also be fed – preferably eating organic food and drinking organic fluids – and protected against the external environment using certified organic vitamin rich skin and body care products. 


Start by avoiding all products that have parfum or fragrance added – many upmarket ‘natural’ type brands have this in their ingredients list. There is substantial evidence that indicates that if we remove synthetic fragrance from our skin care products we would see a massive reduction in allergic reactions and skin sensitivities.

Kiehl’s in the community

With its beginnings as an apothecary in New York City more than 150 years ago, today Kiehl’s distributes its products in over 70 stores and boutiques in the US and around the world. The brand uses the finest, naturally-derived ingredients and simple, efficient recyclable packaging for their skin and hair care products.

For over three decades, Kiehl’s has lent support to three main causes: Children’s wellbeing; AIDS research and prevention; and the environment. Its mission is to give back to the communities it serves, and to be socially responsible.


Kiehl’s are impassioned to create safer, more positive environments for children. Since 2005, Kiehl’s (in partnership with camp Oochigeas, Canada’s first residential camp for children with cancer) has helped raise proceeds for children to attend the treatment center. Kiehl’s Canada recently raised $20,000 with a shop for the cause event hosted in their store.


Kiehl’s has long contributed to efforts related to the cure and research of AIDS. In 2009, Kiehl’s donated one hundred per cent of its net profits from the sale of their Limited Edition “Ultimate Strength Hand Salve” to amFAR and other AIDS related charities around the world.


Kiehl’s maintains an impassioned commitment to the environment, and strive to further their efforts by sourcing fairly traded ingredients for their products. In 2009, Kiehl’s donated one hundred per cent of their net proceeds from their “Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion” (made with fairly traded, organic Moroccan Argan Oil and Argan Leaf extract) to benefit Waterkeeper Alliance, for cleaner water and stronger communities.