Today’s post features a few key takeaways from a recent Wellness Your Way podcast interview. Find the full episode here and be sure to subscribe to Wellness Your Way so you don’t miss future episodes!
Guest Bio: Dr. Erin Tjam
Dr. Erin Yuet Tjam, Ph.D., has had a rich career over the last thirty years. She has been a health educator, adjunct professor, entrepreneur, and Special Advisor to the President at the University of Waterloo. She was also the Director of Research at St. Mary’s General Hospital and a Health Researcher at St. Joseph’s Health Care System, in Ontario, Canada. Erin established two successful businesses while managing a vibrant household of six kids and two grandparents. Now that the kids are grown and the businesses are self-sufficient, she devotes her time to researching and writing about health and beauty. Erin has been obsessed with skin for over four decades. For a fun and more complete bio, see this page!
Top Insights from Dr. Erin Tjam’s Interview
- We have completely misunderstood how skin works, based on the incessant marketing and advertising of skincare products. Our skin is an excretory organ, not a digestive or absorptive organ! Excretory means to expel waste, and its main function is to eliminate waste. The thousands of small pores all throughout our skin are designed to release things from inside our body to the outside, not the reverse! So when we are marketed that we need to absorb products through our skin, this is false!
- Our skin has a microbiome just like our gut. Our skin needs the symbiotic bacteria living on it to protect us from pathogens and other things that we come in contact with, but we’re killing all of these with antiseptic products that kill everything they come in contact with! Preservatives and other ingredients in common skincare, like surfactants, are killing our entire skin microbiome.
- We have a natural barrier function designed to keep harmful things out and keep moisture in, but when we destroy that, we feel skin dryness. Without products that disrupt the barrier function, we wouldn’t feel that dryness!
- Inflammation, from the inside or outside, is the cause of many of our woes! Products with preservatives, surfactants, and acids cause microinflammation each time we come in contact with them. We may not feel it because we have become used to it after years of exposure, but the inflammation makes us more likely to experience future skin issues.
- Skin Sobering can be the answer. Skin Sobering is simple but difficult! It involves completely leaving our skin alone, cleaning it with water alone on a daily basis, and not using any products. Over time, your microbiome will adjust and your skin will be able to take care of itself.
- The transition period can be tough, but it’s worth it! The more you have used products in the past, the longer the Skin Sobering transition would take. For Dr. Erin, it took about a month of no products for her skin to feel healthy and normal again. In the meantime, it might feel dry, oily, itchy, or anything else, so choose the right time of year to make this work for you.
- Many products for acne, eczema, and more are two steps forward, one step back. They do have benefits, but they’re also perpetuating problems. We don’t really know how our skin reacts until we totally cleanse it from these products.
- When we only put makeup or sunscreen on when we “need it,” but not every day, it can be powerful and not harmful to our skin. If you can reduce products to once a week or so, after your initial Skin Sobering period, your skin can handle it. Still, a bit of sun exposure daily is great, and physical protection (like a hat) is even better.
- Acne is directly related to what we put in our bodies with food. Especially in teens with acne, dairy, sugar, and processed foods are critically important. Even Dr. Erin says that nutrition is even more important than what we do (or don’t) put on our skin!
Want to hear the full episode, including Dr. Erin’s personal obsession, why we don’t need to exfoliate, what Kevin got right (that I always made fun of him for!), how skincare products are like drugs, what soap operas have to do with all of this, and so much more?
Head over here to catch the full episode with Dr. Erin Tjam!
Now it’s your turn! What is one thing you learned from this interview? What’s one thing you’re committed to changing after learning from Dr. Erin Tjam?
🎙️ Want to hear about this topic in audio format? → Check out the podcast episode here!