It's not only diet, stress levels and our skincare regime that can affect our skin. There are also environmental factors that can cause damage, leaving you with dull, dry skin which is more prone to aging. We've listed a few of the more common environmental toxins and the best ways to protect yourself from them.
UV, UVA and IR rays can damage skin cells, leading to dry skin, pigmentation changes, premature aging, and, in extreme cases, melanoma. You may feel you are protected by the use of a sunscreen but traditional sunscreens are generally made with chemical filters such as oxybenzone, a known hormone disruptor. This chemical has been shown to reduce testosterone levels in teenage boys and has be found in breast milk.
We advise slow exposure to early morning and late afternoon sun in the spring to develop protection, as the melanin produced by your body will assist to prevent sunburn in the summer. Be mindful of the harsh midday sun and, if unavoidable, wear protective clothing and seek shade where possible.
Look for a natural sunscreen containing ingredients such as zinc oxide which offers a physical barrier by creating a reflective barrier over your skin. Zinc is an antioxidant in its own right, helping to fight the free radicals that attack collagen fibres.
Other weather elements:
Other weather elements such as lower humidity in the cooler months, excessive cold or high winds can be depriving your skin of much needed moisture, leading to dry, itchy and irritated skin.
One way to invite moisture back into the environment is by the use of a humidifier. Also don't 'over heat' your home as heaters can dry out the skin and avoid long hot showers which can deprive your skin of its natural oils.
Excessive moisture - leading to mould, volatile organic compounds (VOC's) - which can off gas from paint, furniture, carpets and other building materials, formaldehyde, chemicals - from personal care products, aerosols, dust mites, pesticides and smoke are just a few of the indoor pollutants we are faced with on a daily basis. In fact, the air in homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air. Here are a few ways you can improve it:
If possible, switch out your carpets. Carpet harbors all kinds of pollutants from gases and dust mites that are released for years, leading to allergies and other health conditions. Switching from carpet can dramatically improve your indoor air quality almost instantly.
Invest in an air purifier to remove pollutants such allergens, bacteria, dust, toxins, and odors so the air is healthier to breathe.
Keep moisture under control with good ventilation, use of exhaust fans, regularly opening windows and investing in a dehumidifier.
Drink good quality filtered water free from chlorine, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals and bacterial contaminants which only add to our body's toxic load.
Make your home a shoe free zone. Not only will you track in less dirt, you’ll also minimise pesticides and other chemicals. This is especially important in carpeted areas, which may contain traces of toxic chemicals for years.
Swap your household cleaners for our natural recipes. These simple DIY recipes can save you tons of money, reduce your family’s toxic chemical exposure and work better than the chemical stuff. It’s a win-win.
Decorate your home with house plants to help to reduce levels of air pollutants such benzene and formaldehyde. Popular air purifying plants include devils ivy, philodendron, spider plant, gerbera daisy, chrysanthemums, bamboo palm, peace lily, rubber plant, weeping fig, mother-in-law’s tongue, vine, and Chinese evergreen species.
Switch to natural skincare products. The average woman puts over 200 synthetic chemicals on her body every day! Fragrances, makeup, skincare, dry shampoo, hairspray, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, dish washing liquid, hand soap... the list goes on. These products are "tested for safety" when used on their own and even those tests are based on regulations that are lax or non-existent. However, typically you aren’t just using one product and combined, they are creating a toxic storm that's absorbed by your body every day. In contrast, natural products are gentle and kind to the skin, as they contain no harsh, astringent ingredients.
It's estimated that 80 percent of the world’s population live in urban areas. Air pollution from, exhausts, smoke, ozone, construction sites and power plants, damage the skin and induce oxidative stress by increasing the body's exposure to free radicals, thereby lowering naturally occurring levels of antioxidants. The body produces antioxidants to neutralise these free radicals before they cause damage, however excessive external pollution can cause an imbalance, damaging the DNA of skin cells. A study conducted in 2019 concluded that chronic exposure to pollutants in the atmosphere generates free radicals while depleting the skin of the antioxidant vitamins C and E. This leads to accelerated skin aging, inflammation, disruption of the skin barrier, decreased ability to repair wounds, and increased risk of skin cancer.
Unfortunately, air pollution is also present in rural areas coming from insecticides, fertilisers and other chemicals used in farming and agriculture.
How to protect your skin from environmental impacts:
It's important to double cleanse at night if you've been more exposed to outdoor pollutants, such as spending time in the city or in harsh weather conditions to ensure all dirt is removed effectively. Use a natural cleanser such as this one to gently cleanse the skin, while keeping the skin barrier intact, lessening the chance of irritation.
Nourish your skin with products containing antioxidants and vitamins that help to neutralise the effects of free radicals. Our anti-aging serum with prickly pear seed oil, acai, sea buckthorn and rosehip contains high levels of vitamins E, C and other nutrients to help shield against oxidation and support cell regeneration.
Ensure you exfoliate 2 to 3 times a week with a gentle exfoliator. Our 'scrub to mask' exfoliating blend contains the fruit enzymes of Davidson Plum and papaya, both natural sources of alpha hydroxy acid which encourages skin rejuvenation by eliminating dead skin cells, and improving the barrier function of the skin.
Eat foods rich in healthy fats. In the absence of good quality, healthy fats in our diets, our cell membranes become weakened and cannot stay plump and hydrated. Healthy fats such as olive, avocado and macadamia oils, nuts such as pecans, brazil nuts and walnuts, oily fish, flaxseed and saturated fats such as coconut oil, grass fed butter and ghee provide essential fatty acids that fortify cell membranes, helping to defend against environmental elements.
Ensure good quality restorative sleep. When we sleep, your mind and body switch into an active regeneration mode – repairing daytime damage and boosting the production of substances that protect and renew. The body produces more collagen, enabling skin regeneration, more human growth hormone is released, increasing muscle mass and strengthening skin, and blood flow to the skin is increased, which delivers the nutrients it needs to recover from a day of exposure to the elements.