Knowing environmental pollution facts is very essential if you want to maintain a healthy skin. This is because air pollution, heat or low humidity, air borne allergens, the sun’s UV ray, smoking and some other factors, which are all products of the environment, can affect the health of your skin. They boost the production of free radicals which attack your skin’s cells and intensify the effects of aging, cause uneven skin tone and even skin cancer.
In this post you will learn about the environmental factors that are damaging your skin and how to protect your skin from such damages.
Ultra Violet Rays
Over 80% of damage done to our skin is as a result of exposure to sun. Over time the sun’s ray damages collagen and elastin in your skin resulting in the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. The damage done builds up right from your childhood and begins to show in later years in form of wrinkles, age spots and possibly skin cancer.
Too much exposure to sun or sun tanning accelerates the signs of aging. In fact, sun exposure actually is the culprit of most of the changes that we think are a normal part of aging. Over time the sun’s UV rays damage the fibers in the skin called elastin and when the fibers break down, the process of production of collagen is slowed down leading to sagging of the skin, the skin stretches and loses its ability to return into place after stretching. The effect of this is that the skin tears and bruises more easily and takes a longer time to heal
This damage to the skin may not show while you are young. But all the while it was taking its toll on the skin and as you age it begins to show
Aside aging, over exposure to sun can cause sun burn. When the body is exposed to sun excessively, elastin is overwhelmed and can no longer protect the skin from the sun. The result of this is your skin burning
Also over exposure to sun can result in uneven melanin production. As you age, melanin can form in clumps resulting in the appearance of freckles and age spots
To prevent this effects of the sun on your skin, apply a sunscreen with minimum SPF 15 before going out into the sun to reduce the amount of harm that UVB rays can cause. A moisturizer with in- built SPF can help keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun
You can also wear sun glasses and sun hat to protect the under eye skin from sun damage. In addition, you will do your skin a lot of good by staying out of the sun when the rays are hottest.
Incorporate Into your diet antioxidant-rich foods to fight free radical damage in your skin resulting from exposure to sun
Tobacco smoke consists of thousands of substances that damage the skin. One of the things that smoking does to your skin is that it constricts the blood vessels resulting in a reduction of blood flow and the amount of nutrients and oxygen that passes through the vessels to your skin. It also reduces the power of valuable antioxidants like Vitamin A to fight free radicals in your body thereby resulting in damage to elastin, the fibers in your skin responsible for production of healthy tone.
The smoker’s skin is generally not as healthy as that of a non-smoker. This is because of the lack of nutrients to the body, the result of the constriction of the blood vessels by the smoke. This lack of nutrients can lead to skin cancer, and in a woman, a lower estrogen level which dries out the skin
The smoke increases free radicals in your body. Free Radicals are unpaired atoms or molecules in the body which cause damage to healthy cells in the course of their stealing molecules from cells (healthy cells) around them including collagen and elastin. For more about Free Radicals, read this article . The result of this damage to the skin includes roughness and dryness, sagging, wrinkling and eye bags.
Also being around smokers, that is secondhand smoke, has the same effects. It degrades the building blocks of the skin the consequence of which is saggy skin and wrinkles
Quit Smoking : The moment you stop smoking you will experience an improved blood flow and this means that oxygen and nutrients would now flow back into your skin. Another effect of this is that antioxidants can now assume their function of defense of your skin from free radicals and help accelerate the process of repairs.
Indoor Heating And Cooling
The need to achieve a comfortable climate has given rise to the use of radiators and air conditioners by us to combat temperature changes. Unfortunately for us this practice has some negative consequences on our skin.
Artificial heating, though a convenient way to keep warm when it is cold, isn’t a healthy way of living. One of the reasons is that it depletes the moisture content of the air in a room. The warm air that is sent out through the heater dries up the natural moisture in the air leading to roughness and dryness of your skin. A possible effect of dry skin is breakouts, this because there’s a layer of dead cells on the skin’s surface that can clog pores and prevent sebum flowing freely.
For a person with sensitive skin this can be worse. It can lead to itching and redness or other infections.
In the same vain as artificial heating, air conditioning also is bad for your skin. Sitting in an air-conditioned room over a long period can dry out your skin. It is even worse when you sit close to the air conditioning vent.
To combat the adverse effects of artificial heating or cooling, moisturize your skin regularly to counteract the drying effect. Also, drinking enough water like 8 glasses a day, would help keep your skin hydrated. If you must sleep in an air-conditioned bedroom raise the humidifier a bit to give the air in the room some moisture.
Most importantly, create and follow a skin care routine morning and evening that would take care of the issue of dryness in the air and fine lines
Pollution in the air like smog and gas emission is as bad for your skin as it is for your general health. And if you are wondering what is air pollution, this is what it is;
” Air pollution is the contamination of the indoor and outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the general characteristics of the atmosphere ” says WHO.
Air pollution is caused by human activities such as mining, construction, transportation, industrial work, agriculture, smelting, etc. However, natural processes such as volcanic eruptions and forest fire may also pollute the air that we breathe. Apart from nitric oxide and hydrocarbons from burned fuel which make up a large amount of pollution in the air, there are always several debris floating in the air which are potentially harmful to the skin.
Air pollution has several side effects on the skin. They include dryness, premature aging, skin rashes, eczema and acne. Air pollutants rob skin cells of oxygen, which leads to premature aging causing wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity. Also, as a result of pollution, ozone strips the skin of vitamin E which nourishes the skin leading to dry skin.
If you live in an area where smog and air pollution is common, make it a habit to wear clothes that gives your body maximum coverage when you go outdoors. This will keep air pollutants off your skin.
Also develop and follow a good skin care routine which should include a good cleanser and moisturizer and protect your skin with a good sunscreen with an SPF 15 at least.
You must also always remove your makeup before going to bed to avoid pollutants getting trapped under your foundation. Use skin care products rich in antioxidants to reduce aging signs
Above all, eat well to give your skin a glowing complexion and to help fight the effects of pollution on your skin.
Now that you know the different ways that your skin is being affected by the environment and what to do to prevent this damage, it is now left to you to take all the necessary measures to safeguard your skin’s health from these environmental pollutants
Do you know of any other environmental factors that we should be avoiding for the sake of our skin’s Well-being? Please share with us as we would love to know. Leave your contributions or questions on this topic below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.