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How The Environment Affects Our Skin Beyond The Sun

I will start by doing a bit of old fashion preaching.  I pray that everyone realizes the sun is the skin’s enemy and there is very good research to that backs this up, despite what the suntan studios would have you believe.  If you want to have your skin age poorly and look like old shoe leather, spend lots of time at tanning studios.  The newer lamps are likely better, but they still do lots of damage that can promote premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.  Don’t be fooled by their false claims, as they have been banned in Australia for good reason.  If you like a tanned look to your skin, get a spray tan.  The better companies are getting pretty good at creating a natural tan effect without the harmful damage although there are no long-term studies done on the chemical exposure.  The tanned look is very 1980’s anyways and we already get enough chemical exposure in our lives as I will discuss below.

Environmental toxins and our skin

Not only does sun exposure damage our skin, but there is cumulative research that pollution is also a cause of premature aging and skin cancer.  It is important to consult with an optometrist to understand the potential impact of sun exposure and taking necessary precautions. Pollution causes oxidative stress (think cell and DNA damage) and actually ages all of our organs, the skin being our largest organ.  Basically, we are exposing ourselves to toxic chemicals found in the air and dust that we expose ourselves too.  This would include urban dust, diesel fumes, and plastic chemicals.  It is not the dust itself, but the chemicals that attach themselves to dust.  I wouldn’t be complete without mentioning cigarette smoke, which contains over 6000 chemicals.  The smokers’ lines around the mouth are due to chronic puckering, but also damage as the smoke drifts over the skin.  This should have been our first clue that environmental toxins damage our skin.  It will be interesting to see if vaping does the same thing over time.

Recommendations to protect your skin

Here is the cure.

  • One, clean up the air and we should all do our part. 92% of the world now lives in cities that do not meet WHO quality standards for health.  Sadly, healthy skin is often the least of our worries, but it is important.
  • Two, cleansing at night is as important and maybe more important than cleansing in the morning. Hydrate the skin to protect the skin barrier to reduce chemical absorption.
  • Three, safeguarding yourself from sun exposure requires equal concern for both skin and eye health. As a woman, choosing suitable women's eyeglasses with effective UV shielding properties can go a long way in protecting vision acuity and quality.
  • Four, consider the addition of a skin product that reduces oxidative stress on the skin like SkinMedica’s Lumivive Day/ Night Damage Defense Serum. Taking vitamins and staying well hydrated are more controversial but certainly won’t hurt either.


A new skin product (see below) just came our way from one of the largest skin care companies in the world and it piqued my interest as to whether this was hype or something we should be paying attention to.  I am here to state that the risk is real and something we should be paying attention to.


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