Monday, 7 March 2016

What is Environmental Skin Damage and How Does it Affect Me?

Often we’re told in the media, on advertisements, packaging almost everywhere about environmental damage to the skin. Now we all know about global warming, ice caps and the like but how on earth does the environment affect me? What causes it? What should I avoid? And how best can I combat it? Sick of being in the dark about such things I’ve done a bit of research and have compiled some information that should (hopefully) answer these questions.

Now, quick disclaimer, I am not a dermatologist nor am I a teacher. So I have used as much reliable information that I can find and I will explain in a way we can all hopefully understand (no long words, I get it!)

Let’s start at the beginning, that’s always a nice place to start. What is environmental skin damage? Environmental skin damage is the effects on your skin from your everyday surroundings, pretty simple.

So what causes it? The causes of skin damage covers a huge number of things which are particular to your country, routine and living conditions. But for the sake of knowledge the main causes we come across in everyday life include; sun exposure, air pollution (dust, chemicals), extreme cold and hot conditions, smoking, climate control, to name a few!   

How does it affect me? Okay so I think it will be easier to break this down into more generalised sections; 
  • Sun exposure, can cause the DNA in our cells to be damaged. It can also cause skin pigmentation like freckles, changes to skin texture like wrinkles, moles and in some cases cancer.
  • Air pollution can cause clogged pores due to dust and debris entering the skin, chemical pollutants cause natural oils to break down on the skin’s surface which would normally trap oils. Air pollution has also be known to inhibit the skin’s ability to rebuild and repair.
  • Extreme cold & hot conditions. Harsh cold climates can lead to dry and itchy skin as well as dandruff and chapping. Hot conditions cause us to sweat which can lead to blocked pores.
  • Smoking can cause the skin to wrinkle, it can slow down recovery from wounds and stains skin.
  • Climate control causes our skin to have to adapt quickly to sudden temperature changes like going from the cold outside to warm inside vice versa, the skin can handle this but it causes damage over time due to how rapidly the change happens.

I guess you’re now wondering ‘What should I avoid?’ Now, the problem with environmental damage is it is just that! It’s environmental, we have to face these things everyday in some form or another and most of which are unavoidable. Avoiding smoking is a good start as well as staying out of the sun when it is at it’s strongest and protecting yourself when you are in it. 

Which leads me nicely onto ‘How best can I combat it?’ There are a few great things you can do to avoid any further damage to your skin including; 
Thoroughly cleansing your skin day and night to get rid of any damage causing pollutants, keeping your skin GENTLY exfoliated (if you exfoliate harshly you can cause more skin damage. I recommend glycolic acid or a light acid peel) to remove deeper impurities, use an air filter to remove the majority of toxins around you, use a good hydrating moisture to enhance your skin’s protective barrier and finally get that vitamin D in a supplement! 
You’re not a lizard and you do not need to bask on a rock, you can take vitamin D orally and avoid the sun a bit more!


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