In Anna Liza's Words: As a busy financial executive I spend a lot of time in airports as well as entertaining clients across the country. While I usually experience mild breakouts associated with my menstrual cycle, my acne always gets worse when I travel. I also had been suffering from chronic pain in my lower abdomen for fi e long years. I had seen three different specialists, each of whom ordered a battery of tests, but none could pinpoint the problem. When Dr. Wu first gave me the Feed Your Face Diet— and told me to avoid dairy products— I balked. My husband is French, and we both enjoy wine and cheese. Still, I figured it was worth a try. Ten days later my skin was definitely calmer, and I'd had no new breakouts. One month later my skin was smooth and clear, and the painful cysts were gone completely. But what really surprised me was that my abdominal pain was gone, too. I had never put two and two together, never guessed that my unexplained stomach pains had anything to do with my skin! I still travel a lot, and when I'm busy wining and dining colleagues or clients, it's always tempting to have what everyone else is having. But now that I know dairy aggravates my acne (not to mention my stomach), I don't mind skipping the cheese course or passing on creamy desserts. For me that's a small price to pay for clear skin.
Dr. Wu's Diagnosis: I wasn't at all surprised when Anna Liza told me that her breakouts worsened after traveling. From the stress of running to catch a connecting flight to the recirculated (and germ- filled) air in a crowded cabin and the subpar food, it's not at all unusual to experience skin flare- ups of all kinds, from acne to eczema, when you spend a lot of time on the go. Nor was I surprised when her skin cleared after eliminating dairy from her diet. Dairy products often aggravate acne in women of all ages. It's my stance that we all eat too much dairy anyway, even those of us who don't have acne. More on that in Chapter 3.
Putting It All Together: The Skinny on Your Skin
By now you realize that your skin is more than just something to put makeup on. And that's great, because understanding how skin functions is an important step in learning to care for it. Let's wrap up this chapter with a quick rundown of your skin's basic anatomy. For starters, you may think of your skin as having a single layer, but it's actually made of three layers, each containing several different types of cells:
LAYER ONE: The Epidermis
Th e outermost layer of the skin is called the epidermis. (You can think of it as the peel of an orange.) It, too, is divided into multiple layers. The bottom part of the epidermis is called the basal layer, and it consists of two types of cells: melanocytes, which give your skin its pigment (they're what determine if you're fair like Nicole Kidman or mahogany like Naomi Campbell) and keratinocytes, which are actively growing and rapidly dividing cells that make keratin.