Anatomically, the skin functions as your primary barrier between the environment and your body. So, what environmental factors is it protecting you from? And how do those factors affect your skin?
First, climate and weather can cause severe wear and tear on your skin. Some of the most damaging agents are sunlight, extreme temperatures, humidity, and wind.
Sunlight can lead to burns, dryness, peeling, and premature aging. This can result in damaged collagen and elastin, creating wrinkles. Sunlight is often considered the most harmful environmental factor, given that prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to a number of diseases including sun spots, pigmentation changes, severe burns, or even possibly skin cancer.
Otherwise, extremely cold temperatures can leave skin dry and cracked. This can lead to open areas of broken skin that run the risk of getting infected. Additionally, extremely hot temperatures can make skin moist, sweaty, and acne-prone. This is an ideal environment for bacteria growth leading to breakouts and can also lead to inflammation or infection.
High humidity can have a similar outcome as hot temperatures. Meanwhile, low humidity and windy conditions can cause the skin to dehydrate. Understandably, any combination of multiple of these factors creates an elevated risk of damage to the skin.
Another environmental factor that can affect your skin is air pollution. Smog, dirt, dust, toxins and other chemicals in the air can be absorbed into the pores causing inflammation and damage in the skin layers. This can lead to premature aging and wrinkles. Some of the most common causes of these toxins include industrial sites, vehicle emissions, and smoking. Depending on where you live, where you work and your lifestyle habits, this factor can play a heavy role in your skin health.
Keep in mind that some methods of combating the effects of the environment on your skin include limiting exposure by wearing sunscreen, wearing appropriate protective clothing, eating a healthy diet that includes recommended vitamin intake, and maintaining moisturized skin to prevent dryness and cracking. Also, there are available products to assist in anti-pollution skincare if you are interested in trying those. Furthermore, smokers should consider quitting as a preventative measure.
Do you find weather or air pollution to be a regular problem for your skin? What kind of products or solutions do you prefer?
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