Avoid these environmental factors to strengthen your skin barrier and delay the signs of ageing
Your skin may seem strong but it’s not immune to the environment around you. Every day we’re exposed to things of a physical, chemical, and biological nature. Your skin is protected by a natural barrier. But daily exposure can break down your skin’s natural barrier and lead to further health issues. That’s why it’s so important to understand what can weaken your skin’s barrier and what can be done to strengthen and protect it.
The effects of a weakened skin barrier aren’t always visible when we look in a mirror. There are signs and symptoms to look out for which we can observe to better understand what we can do to support our skin. When we notice these signs early we can diagnose issues and be more proactive about preventing exposure to the things that contribute to ageing your skin.
There are many things we can do to safeguard our skin from damage and rapid ageing. Modern skin care products can be used to help protect our skin from future damage. Moisturisers and serums can be used to help strengthen your skin’s natural barrier. Simple habits like wearing sun protection such as a hat can help shield your face from the effects of UV rays.
There are also many treatments a dermatologist can recommend to help support your skin’s natural barrier and slow down the process of ageing your skin. What you need can depend on what your body gets exposed to. Daily exposure to things of a physical, chemical, and biological nature can wear down certain elements of your skin’s barrier.
Once you identify weak points in your skin’s barrier it’s time to start diagnosing what’s causing a breakdown of the barrier. By identifying which environmental factors are affecting the health of your skin you can begin to find the right treatment for protecting your skin and improving its condition. So to help restore the health of your skin’s barrier we’re covering five environmental factors responsible for ageing your skin.
What is the skin barrier?
To understand how lifestyle choices contribute to ageing your skin, we need to understand what our skin barrier is. Also known as the acid mantle, our skin’s barrier is responsible for locking in skin-beautifying lipids and moisture. The skin barrier is also responsible for blocking out germs, pollution, toxins, and bacteria.
For your skin barrier to function at its best, it needs to stay in a state of ideal pH balance. When your skin barrier is too alkaline it becomes dry and sensitive. One of the most common side effects of high alkaline is eczema. Another common symptom can be inflammation, which impedes the skin’s ability to fight off the MMP enzymes that terrorise your body’s collagen and elastin stores.
1. Oxidative stress
Oxidative stress plays a large role in ageing your skin. There are four main sources of oxidative stress; ultraviolet radiation (UVR), infrared irradiation (IRA), xenobiotics, and environmental pollutants. UVR is usually the most common offender when it comes to oxidative stress.
In your skin, oxidative stress causes an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. When the free radicals in your skin are doing their job correctly, they help fight off pathogens which usually lead to infections. When there are too many free radicals in your skin it can start to cause damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body.
While it’s impossible to completely avoid oxidative stress, there are things you can do to minimise the effects of it on your body. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to provide your body with what it needs to produce antioxidants.
2. Air pollution
According to recent dermatological studies, there is a connection between air pollution and the rate of your skin ageing. The presence of air pollution particles can be found in cities, suburbs, and country towns. So a change of scenery and lifestyle won’t necessarily help you avoid the effects of air pollution. Different areas in Australia will have higher rates of pollution so you can decrease your exposure to air pollution by choosing where you live.
Air pollution particles can be small enough to enter the skin. They can accelerate and contribute to the formation of brown spots, fine lines and wrinkles. Air pollution contains microscopic contaminants which help produce the reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are also known as free radicals.
Free radicals can strip away your skin barrier’s lipids which help retain moisture. Lipids also contribute to the process of keeping out dirt and other impurities. As your skin barrier continues to be compromised your skin can develop increased sensitivity, discomfort, and pigmentation issues.
On a more positive note, healthy skin is often more efficient at filtering out what contaminants are good and bad. To help increase your skin barrier’s defences against pollution, dermatologists still recommend treatments such as exfoliants and sunscreens as well as a diet high in antioxidants.
3. Tobacco smoke
Exposure to tobacco smoke can also accelerate the ageing process of your skin. In some cases, the effects may not be obvious until ten years of exposure but you will notice a remarkable difference in the appearance of your skin when changes start to occur.
Studies have shown that aside from age, smoking is the second strongest predictor of facial wrinkling for both men and women. The nicotine content in tobacco smoke is the main culprit when it comes to ageing your skin. Nicotine exposure can cause a narrowing of blood vessels in the outer layers of your skin. This narrowing can impair blood flow to your skin which deprives it of oxygen and vital nutrients such as vitamin A.
There are many other chemicals in tobacco smoke that can have a negative effect on your skin. These chemicals can damage collagen and elastin which are responsible for giving your skin its strength and elasticity. Without these two qualities, your skin will start to sag and wrinkle prematurely.
Smoking tobacco has also been linked to causing wrinkles on other areas of skin such as your inner arms. While the wrinkles may not be reversible, it’s never too late to quit smoking so you can prevent further damage to your skin.
Much like the rest of your body depends on it, good nutrition plays a key role in maintaining healthy skin. Our modern diets often consist of heat-processed foods. While these foods are easy to cook and consume, unfortunately, they have dietary advanced glycation end products (DAGEs).
DAGEs have been known to contribute to oxidant stress and inflammation. These effects have been popularly linked to causing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. DAGEs usually take form in your body when protein or fat combine with sugar. While you can’t be completely in control of DAGEs forming, being more mindful of your diet can help.
By making everyday substitutions with your diet it is possible to reduce the production of DAGEs. Think of the basics like swapping regular potatoes for sweet potatoes, honey and fruit instead of white sugar, or avocado and olive oil instead of margarine. Any time you have a sweet craving, opt for blueberries instead. They are high in antioxidants and help prevent a loss of collagen.
5. Cosmetic products
Regular and excessive use of makeup can also contribute to the acceleration of the skin ageing process. Oil-based makeup can clog up skin pores, and aggravate fine lines below and around your eyes. Talc based makeup products can also dry out your skin which can contribute to rapid ageing and the formation of wrinkles.
Mineral-based makeup products can contain bismuth oxychloride. This ingredient can cause excessive dryness, irritation, and peeling of your skin. There are many other chemicals present in modern makeup formulas that can cause a loss of skin tone, elasticity. When these two qualities of your skin diminish it can result in premature wrinkling.
Start supporting your skin barrier today
Every day there are little adjustments you can make to support your skin barrier. Nutrition can play a large part in giving you long-term results. At the same time, our diets can be one of the hardest lifestyle changes to make and stick to.
The choice of cosmetic products you apply every day can also affect your skin barrier. So take particular care to read labels and see what ingredients in these cosmetic products could be affecting you.
Using skin care products provides an easy and effective solution for strengthening your skin barrier. Products like the Dermal Hub S.O.S Barrier Creams are easy to apply and use daily. Sunscreens products from the Dermal Hub Sun Care range can also provide effective protection from damaging UV rays.
So when it comes to protecting your skin barrier, try to take a holistic approach. Focus on all the aspects of your lifestyle that may be affecting your skin health. A few small changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference in the health and appearance of your skin.
Support your skin’s natural barrier with Dermal Hub’s S.O.S Barrier Day Cream.