This week’s episode of ‘Breaking News’ is one that we dredged up from a century ago, but which still very much applies today: Zinc is good for your skin. Like, really, really good.
Fancy skin fads may come and go, but this ye ol’ faithful has been a mainstay on the beauty block since before your grandmother was born. We’ll get to the hows and whys in a minute, but first, buckle up in your school/work desk chair, and get acquainted with the beauty mineral of the century.
What is zinc?
Zinc is a ‘trace mineral’ (meaning that you only need a tiny amount daily) that inhabits every single cell in your body. Even though you only require a small amount of it each day, zinc is kind of a big deal in the body. More than 100 different enzymes rely on it to function, in the same desperate way that I rely on my 1pm coffee to keep my eyelids sprightly of an afternoon. Of those 100 enzymes, skin cells are the biggest stage five clinger—the top layer of your skin (a.k.a your epidermis) especially, with up to six times more of the powerful mineral found there than in the lower layers (a.k.a your dermis).
Zinc is not stored in the body for long periods of time at the best of times, and everyday occurrences like sweat and guzzling your good pal wine further depletes these levels. Daily consumption is therefore a non-negotiable—not only for dazzling skin, but for your good health in general.
Yes, yes. But how exactly will zinc give me a glowing visage?
Zinc has been used in dermatology for centuries. When taken orally, zinc can do all sorts of magical things for glowing, zit-free skin, like: helping to help wounds, lessening inflammation, and improving skin conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis and melasma. Let’s break it down a little more, shall we?
Zinc works as an antioxidant. Although it’s technically not an antioxidant (or as hyped as Vitamin C and E), zinc is a vital player in your skin’s dietary defense #skwod. Zinc helps fight damaging free radicals and protects the skin’s lipids (fats) and fibroblasts—the cells that produce collagen—when exposed to UV light, pollution and all the other nasty stuff that speeds up ageing.
Zinc can scare your acne away. Zits happen when a buildup of oil, bacteria and skin cells come together in an irritating display of solidarity to block your pores, making the skin around the pore turn swollen, sore and an audacious shade of red. Zinc boosts your immune function, which helps that inflammatory response. Also, because the beauty mineral helps with cell production and turnover, it can help reduce the amount of oil your skin produces, which prevents pores from becoming clogged in the first place.
Zinc heals and restores skin. In the case of healing wounds, whether acne-related or otherwise, zinc is the MVP. The miracle mineral increases enzymes that help control inflammation, protect against infection and produce new cells to close up the broken skin.