Where we live and the lives that we lead, are all big factors in not only our general health, but the health of our skin. So whether we live in the country, or the inner city, the environmental impacts play an integral part in skin health. With our skin being our largest organ, one of its primary functions is to protect our body from noxious substances, such as ultraviolet radiation and toxic chemicals. The harm that these have on our skin can be quite considerable.
Let’s talk about city living. It is estimated that 80 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas. Chances are, you spend a considerable amount of time in this type of environment. Air pollution from fires, exhausts, construction sites and power plants, although cannot always be seen, have a wicked way of creeping up on us and wreaking havoc on our skin. You only have to wipe your skin with a tissue at the end of a day to see what pollution looks like. Yuk!
Unfortunately, you’re not off the hook if you live in the country! Pollution in rural areas comes from insecticides, fertilisers and other chemicals used in farming and agriculture. This is why there is such a need for organically grown produce. The less chemicals, the less free radical damage!
It is this pollution that causes free radical damage. These are the instigators of all skin concerns, from fine lines and dry, dull and dehydrated skin to uneven skin tone, age spots and ultimately, skin cancers. Studies have shown that in highly polluted areas, the complaints of skin irritations, sensitivities, acne, rashes and hives increase alongside complaints of respiratory (breathing) problems.
But What Exactly are Free Radicals?
In a nutshell, and without getting too technical, free radicals are reactive, unstable molecules with unpaired electrons. They can be damaging to the body, affecting cells and DNA and ultimately, contributing to ageing and disease. Free radicals are formed naturally in the body through exposure to damaging factors in the environment. The unpaired electrons scavenge around our bodies looking for electrons to pair with and this is what causes all sorts of DNA and cell damage. Read more about Free Radicals here.
Even if you live in the world’s cleanest air, you can suffer from environmental impacts when you travel, wear perfumes, use chemically-laden skin care products or use skin care that is too harsh for your skin. Seasonal changes bring pollens, colds and hay fever, which all affect our skin as well.
It’s interesting to note that it’s not always the pollutant particles themselves that penetrate the skin, as they are usually too large, but other toxic chemicals that bind to the dust, fumes and cigarette smoke which are small enough to penetrate the skin and act on our good cells, creating damage.
How To Protect Your Skin From Environmental Impacts
Cleanse twice, especially at night, to remove every bit of the day’s grime, along with your makeup. Using a Micellar Water to cleanse first and then following up with your usual cleanser is an effective way to ensure you are really clean of environmental impacts before applying your serums.
NOTE: If you are travelling to a polluted area, take a mask, such as Osmosis MD Polish or CosMedix Pure Enzymes, to use as your cleanser. If your skin is oily, using Organic Nation Black Rice Scrub nightly will clean you superbly.
Nourish Your Skin. The vitamins that neutralise or heal free radicals are the ones you know: Vitamins A, B and C. However, Superoxide Dismutase, CoQ10 and Resveratrol are also great free-radical fighters. These can be found in Osmosis MD Replenish, CosMedix Affirm, CosMedix Elite Pepoxide and X-age to name a few.
Hydrate and Protect. Adding a layer of product between your skin and the air acts as a physical barrier between pollutants and you. Plus, it will help reduce water loss through the skin. Adding CosMedix Rescue+ Balm to any moisturiser or sunblock will help. Some of our best moisturisers are: Rejuvaphyl Ultra Rich Hydration, Aspect SMC, Osmosis MD Immerse, Organic Nation Rescue Gel and Aspect Dr Resveratrol.
Use a physical UV block/sunblock every day. That’s every day no matter the weather or what you plan to do. Zinc is an antioxidant in its own right, helping to fight the free radicals that attack collagen fibres. The most hydrating zinc-based sunblock is CosMedix Hydrate, however Aspect HydraShield is perfect too. Hate sunblocks? Try the Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush SPF 50 – just dust over your skin regularly throughout the day. It’s even waterproof for 80 minutes under running water!
And Lastly –
Try to eat organically where you can, have a good skin care routine, spray your perfume on your clothes not your skin and, if you’re a smoker, make it your mission to give up. If you follow these simple tips, wherever you live or wherever you visit, you will be assisting your skin to be healthier for longer and guess what?
Healthier skin looks and feels younger by the day!
Still not sure?
If you need more help or would like personalised advice on what skincare products are best for you, book now for your consultation with a skin care advisor:
Or fill in the Online Skin Consultation and Gaye, our registered nurse, will happily help you to choose the right treatments and products for your skin type or concern.