We had an in depth look in the previous blog post at the importance of the skin barrier and what ingredients and skincare products to use in your daily regime. This month we will focus on the environmental factors that also affect the natural health and function of the skin barrier. The biggest culprits are atmospheric pollution and the dry windy climate found during our winter months.
Dr Alek weighs in on how invisible environmental stressors are impacting your skin. Plus, the product you want to go into battle with…
What effect does pollution have on the skin barrier?
Pollution has been strongly linked to increased environmental free radicle damage to the skin. It is sometimes referred to as atmospheric ageing or ozone pollution ageing. Ozone pollution oxidizes lipids and depletes skin’s natural antioxidant reservoir which in turn leads to a progressive cascade of damage that contributes to visible signs of aging: leads to the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Ground-level ozone has also been shown to deplete the skin of vitamins E and C, two essential ingredients in the body’s natural defence mechanism that protects against oxidative damage.
It may also strip away the protective barrier that helps to keep nutrients and moisture in and toxic compounds out of your skin. This occurs because ozone increases lipid peroxidation or breakdown, which degrades the lipid component of the barrier.
All the above pollution skin effects will accelerate the appearance of the common signs of aging and has shown to have the following specific skin effects:
- Increase in dehydration.
- Increase in sebum production.
- Increase in skin sensitivity.
- Decrease in Vitamin C and E.
Why does my skin feel dryer in winter?
The skin tends to feel dryer during winter months due to certain climate changes that have a direct effect on the skin:
- Cold air is dryer and contains less humidity: this naturally ‘sucks’ our moisture from the skin
- Indoor heating: most heaters and even air conditioners produce dry heat which further sucks moisture from the skin
- Long hot showers and baths: these tend to strip the skin of its natural lipids which increases skin permeability and water loss
- Winter is also associated with windy weather which further increases water loss from the skin
Protect Your Skin Against Environmental Aggressors
Dr Alek’s Go To Products
When choosing products during the winter months I recommend looking at ingredients that will provide our skins with a triple beneficial effect:
- They must help to maintain and restore the skin barrier.
- They must protect the skin against pollution-induced free radical damage
- They must protect the skin against the harsh climate changes we experience during the winter months.
My go-to ingredients are vitamin C and vitamin E, ceramides and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients should be the mainstay of everyone’s skincare regime.
Please see my list of different skincare suggestions below and see which one you should add to your regime.
Yours in skin
Dr Alek Nikolic