How-to-look-after-your-skin-during-winter
Skin Care Through the Seasons

Environmental Factors That Affect Your Skin Barrier

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:

  1. Increase in dehydration.
  2. Increase in sebum production.
  3. Increase in skin sensitivity.
  4. 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:

  1. Cold air is dryer and contains less humidity: this naturally ‘sucks’ our moisture from the skin
  2. Indoor heating: most heaters and even air conditioners produce dry heat which further sucks moisture from the skin
  3. Long hot showers and baths: these tend to strip the skin of its natural lipids which increases skin permeability and water loss
  4. 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:

  1. They must help to maintain and restore the skin barrier.
  2. They must protect the skin against pollution-induced free radical damage
  3. 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

Antioxidants like Vitamin C and E: protect against free radicle damage and helps to restore and protect the skin barrier.

Contain vitamin C & E, ceramides and hyaluronic acid:

Contain vitamin C & E:

DERMACEUTIC C25 Cream

R900.00
EARN 360 SkinMiles

EXUVIANCE AF Vitamin C20 Serum Capsules

R1,180.00
EARN 566 SkinMiles

LAMELLE Correctives Recharge CE

R830.00
EARN 332 SkinMiles

SKINCEUTICALS CE Ferulic

R2,385.00
EARN 1431 SkinMiles

Contain vitamin C:

DERMACEUTIC Tri Vita C30

R1,720.00
EARN 688 SkinMiles

EXUVIANCE AF Vitamin C20 Serum Capsules

R1,180.00
EARN 566 SkinMiles

OBAGI Pro-C Serum 15%

R1,270.00
EARN 533 SkinMiles

Contain hyaluronic acid:

OPTIPHI Intense HA Infinity Serum

R1,444.00
EARN 650 SkinMiles

sk.in marvel | hydro shot

R1,050.00
EARN 420 SkinMiles

SKINCEUTICALS H.A. Intensifier

R1,655.00
EARN 993 SkinMiles

SKINCEUTICALS Phyto Corrective Gel

R1,100.00
EARN 660 SkinMiles

Contain ceramides:

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