Aging Skin and Combating Environmental Stressors

Aging skin and environmental stressors

While some aspects of aging are unavoidable (intrinsic aging), premature signs can be lessened through reduced exposure to environmental stresses such as pollution, blue light radiation and UV exposure. Such environmental stressors expose your skin to free radicals and oxidative stress which damage its structural proteins resulting in decreased collagen production as well as breakdown of other important skin tissues including dermis and epidermis, leading to fine lines, uneven pigmentation, dryness and discoloration.

Sun exposure (UVR), whether natural sunlight or artificial sources like tanning beds, is one of the main external contributors to visible signs of aging and accelerated cell damage. UVR causes sunburns, thinness, redness, mottled pigmentation known as photoaging or solar damage and increased cancer risks.

Air pollution is another key contributor to accelerated aging. Exposure to pollutants like nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (VOCs) and cigarette smoke can cause oxidative stress which decreases collagen synthesis leading to leathery appearance (dermatoheliosis) or bleeding under the skin (bruising or cherry angiomas). When combined with UVR this leads to even more cell damage.

A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean protein is key for maintaining an even complexion. Avoiding perfumed soaps and heavily chlorinated swimming pools that exacerbate dryness is key; too much chlorine exposure leads to fine lines and wrinkles; use gentle face wash, moisturizer and sunscreen are musts as well. Massaging upwards movements on your face can also help tighten droopy skin while improving elasticity reducing fine lines and wrinkles.