Skin as an organ

We speak to The Functional Nurse at The Functional Skin Studio Madilyn Wolens on skin being our largest organ and how we can take care of it…

Can you explain the skin as our largest organ and its functions that we often overlook in our pursuit for beauty? 

This is a topic I am very passionate about. As a Cosmetic/Dermal Nurse I treat a few thousand patients a year in my clinic and a huge component of my work is actually educating and rewiring thought processes around skin. There are millions of skin care products on the market claiming to make your skin glow through moisturisation, exfoliation or makeup. It can become confusing and overwhelming. What we must not forget is that skin is an organ. It is interconnected with all other organs and bodily functions. Understanding skin from an anatomical perspective will help you to better understand what it needs. Or, better yet, what it does not need. 

Explain the link between our internal health and the health of our skin. What are some things we do that can have a negative impact on this and what are the consequences? 

The Skin serves us in many ways more than just to look good. It is a very complex organ weighing in at about 7kg for the average adult. It is responsible for many functions including helping to protect us from environmental hazards, trauma and chemicals, synthesizes Vit D, provides sensory receptors to detect touch, pressure, pain and temperature just to name a few. 

Our skin ages due to two biological processes. The first process is classed as intrinsic skin aging. This is due to chronological aging and affects all of our organs. The second process is extrinsic skin aging, as a result of external factors and environmental influence. This can vary from chronic sun exposure, smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation and poor nutrition. Prevention is always the key to work against extrinsic skin aging effects. This is where our lifestyle choices can have a big impact on our skin health. We encourage our patients to focus on protection from oxidative stress by supporting the endogenous antioxidant system, with antioxidants containing products that are normally present in the skin. However, fresh organic food and Vegetables are just part of the picture when looking at our overall health. 

Skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, melasma and eczema especially are all triggered from inflammation. Chronic inflammation may be the root cause of the majority of autoimmune disorders and disease. Inflammation in the gut from the foods we eat and drink and the medications we take, can cause systemic inflammation affecting the entire body. This is why we treat the skin holistically and not just topically. 

Why is it important to be mindful of buying clean beauty products when shopping for skincare and cosmetics, beyond the beauty benefits and relating to the function of our skin as an organ? The Clean beauty movement is on the rise and although the verdict may still be out for some ingredients and their toxicity levels, there is a long list of ingredients consumers are now avoiding. Women can apply a few hundred chemicals on their bodies each day with very little awareness. Some of these chemicals can be toxins hidden in our moisturisers, cleansers, deodorants, perfumes and hair care. Some toxins are proven endocrine disruptors (i.e. harmful to our hormonal health), carcinogens or skin irritants. It is time we looked beyond marketing and straight to the ingredients list just like we should for our food. 

Do you have any product recommendations, tips or practices to advise to help us take care of our skin from this perspective? (Feel free to promote your own business here as well). 

Here are some of my top tips to take care of your bodies largest organ; 

1. If you are suffering with inflamed skin or just wanting to reduce the signs of aging, start with the basics that you can control (ie, those extrinsic factors we spoke about earlier). Drink plenty of water, eat organic whole foods, aim for regular sleeping patterns if possible, limit your toxin intake both topically and internally and reduce excessive sun exposure. 

2. Have a look at your skincare/ makeup bag. Do you know if your products are full of nasty toxins that you are unnecessarily exposing yourself to daily? We have cultivated an online clean beauty store teamed with loads of information to help our patients in choosing Natural, organic and safe skin care. 

3. If overhauling your life seems overwhelming and unrealistic, start small. Aim to replace one body care product per month to a cleaner alternative. From there, aim to embody one health habit per month. This may be increasing your daily water consumption or reducing your refined sugar intake. Health is a lifelong commitment and the choices we make daily can greatly impact the our health in the future 

Tessa James

Tessa James

Australian Actress & Founder of James Wellness




Madilyn Wolens
• Registered Nurse
• Dermatology & Integrative Med
• Clean Skin Care

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