Basic guidelines for skin health & hair health

Foundational Health Series

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NOTE: We will soon have dermatologist contributors participate in this community category segment.

There is no shortage of innovative products and routines to improve skin and hair health. For now, let's stick with baseline guidelines while looking further upstream.

As I've gone through my own personal health transformation which began, I've noticed a vast improvement in my complexion and overall skin health. Previously, I suffered from a skin condition and it was common for me to have breakouts on my legs and scalp. As I went through my functional diagnostic nutrition training, I learned that metabolic health, especially gut health, is vital for keeping your skin vibrant and clear. 

Our outer shell, healthy skin, and hair are the downstream result of cleaning up our insides. 

  • Related to "metabolic health", these sections in particular will go a long way toward healthier skin:

I'm seeing a new trend of natural creams and lotions that I have begun to experiment with. One in particular is natural tallow cream to put on your skin at night. 

Red Light Therapy

New therapies are emerging and becoming mainstream, such as red light therapy which, according to Casey Kelley, M.D., founder and medical director of Case Integrative Health, activates the mitochondria and helps with cell healing. "Think of it as your morning coffee—red light therapy helps your cells wake up and get the job done!" says Dr. Kelley.

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Another expert, Dr. Erum Ilyas, M.D. of Schweiger Dermatology, explains that red light therapy and other low-level light modalities take advantage of a phenomenon called photobiomodulation, which is how different components of our cells are activated. He compares red light therapy to more traditional skin devices, such as lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL), which cause "controlled damage" to trigger an inflammatory reaction that reduces wrinkles. Red light therapies, on the other hand, avoid the trauma, generating a positive impact without the discomfort, extended healing time, and possibility of swelling.


I realize this is going to be controversial, but I want to share how my personal experience with sunlight has evolved.

Part 1: Many of the heavyweight biohackers have begun to discuss the importance of getting sun on your skin early in the AM when UV rays are virtually harmless. This supports your circadian rhythm and helps the body to naturally produce essential nutrients. I now strongly support this theory.

Other new concepts that I'm seeing discussed by thought leaders are:

  • The dangers of many SPF lotions and creams resulting from toxic ingredients
  • Sunglasses being counter-productive because they prevent your eyes from functioning as your 'radar detector' for UV rays. By wearing sunglasses, you can trick your body into thinking it is getting far less sun than it actually is.

Prior to my health transformation, if I were in the sun with my shirt off, I'd be wearing sunglasses and holding a white claw while munching on processed, high carb snacks. Without SPF, I'd burn up within the first 10 minutes. I was essentially starving my metabolic system of its ability to defend itself.

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Post-health transformation, I avoid SPF cream and sunglasses, wearing a straw hat that can protect my head, ears, and neck, and wearing a long sleeve bamboo thread fabric shirt. I'll make a point to only drink water with electrolytes, and if I'm sitting in a chair, I'll bring a light blanket to put over my legs and feet. I'll be extra disciplined about sticking with the Diet & Nutrition guidelines from above. I've noticed that when I take my shirt off (for short spurts of 10-15 minutes), my skin is far more resilient. My skin seems to tan more easily and glows in ways that I hadn't been able to experience for as long as I can remember. My tans will also last much longer than years ago. 

Post Beach / Sun Shower

After your skin is exposed to sun, your body begins to naturally react with its own defenses to avoid adverse effects of the sun (White Claw won't support your body during this process, btw.) Vitamin D is naturally produced in the skin that has been exposed. If you shower with soap, the soap will absorb and extract the vitamin D from your skin, which is one of the best ways to deplete your body of optimal sun recovery. Ever wonder why your sunburn seems to worsen after taking a shower with soap? Wait at least 36 hours after sun exposure to use soap on your skin.  Until then just take a water only rinser (cool water preferred) with no soap.

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My personal experience with avoiding SPF lotion strategy has been very positive. We'll be working to surface more research and community articles on the subject in the near future. I understand that this is controversial. We're starting to uncover more 'organic' SPF lotions that might provide a happy medium.

Skin cancer has emerged in my family and I take it very seriously. The prevailing medical advice is for people to lather up in (probably toxic) SPF every minute of the day, and yet skin cancer seems to be on the rise while the ozone layer thickness has improved in recent years.

Perhaps this can be partially explained by how the modern western diet and lifestyle have reduced our overall resiliency and ability to not only defend ourselves, but thrive in sunlight.  

Foundational Health - Basic Guidelines Series:

Brian Leddy Profile Image
Brian Leddy CEO & Co-Founder, BodyStack (FDN-P)
Certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner (FDN-P) and owner of Leddy Functional Wellness. Formerly an Adweek Executive and Media Entreprenuer, Brian pivoted his career to focus on inspiring and coaching people from all walks of life to make positive strides in their respective health journeys. Brian is a Co-Founder, and now serves as the CEO of BodyStack.
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