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Environmental factors have rapidly become a major threat to the health and appearance of your skin. Every day our skin is bombarded by blue light, dust, soot, pollen, pollution, UVA/UVB rays, and smoke in the air from various sources, despite our best efforts to avoid them. These particles—collectively referred to as particulate matter—are small enough to penetrate the skin, where they start to generate a storm of free radicals. The ensuing oxidative stress creates an unfavorable environment of inflammation, lipid peroxidation, uneven skin tone, dehydration, dryness, dark spots, accelerated aging, and wrinkles.

We had a chance to sit down with Dr. G to understand more about how all of these external factors and what we can do to protect against the harmful damage.

How does pollution lead to free radicals in the skin?

Pollution releases microscopic particles or free radicals that can go deep into the skin and cause damage to otherwise healthy cells. The outcome is loss of elasticity (wrinkles and sagging) and Hyperpigmentation (dark spots).

Can you explain blue light for me – e.g. we get this sort of light from the sun early in the AM, but it’s now threaded through our days thanks to computers/ phones etc?

HEV is primarily emitted from the Sun but also from computers + smart phones + fluorescent lights. All our screens emit High-energy visible (HEV) light and Infrared (IR) light. In some studies HEV and IR light have been shown to penetrate the skin more deeply than the traditionally marketed UVA, UVB and UVC rays.

Can blue light can be damaging for our skin? If so, what are the potential affects (e.g. ageing/ loss of elasticity…).

Blue Light coming from screen time has been proven to breakdown our skin cells which simply just leads to accelerated aging. The affects are similar to those caused by the sun. HEV (high-energy visible light (HEV light) is high-frequency, high-energy light in the violet/blue band from 400 to 450 nm in the visible spectrum. Despite a lack of concurring scientific evidence, HEV light has sometimes been claimed to be a cause of age-related macular degeneration) is emitted from the sun too, just like it is within Blue Lights. Some studies have shown the breakdown of collagen and other similar aging issues such as hyperpigmentation/color changes, inflammation and dehydration.

Does the amount of time that we spend close to blue light (e.g. someone that reads email on the bus/ spends 9 hours at a computer/ looks at a phone on the sofa whilst watching TV, versus someone who works as a teacher and spends less time in front of a screen) come into it? 

Absolutely. Try taking a screen break and always wear protective skincare.

Is there anything a person can do to mitigate the effects? E.g. phone covers for blue light?

Blue blocker glasses and phone and screen covers may help.

Is there anything a person can do, product-wise, to mitigate the effects? 

Environmental aggressors deliver free radicals to the skin, which in turn cause the breakdown of collagen, onset of wrinkles, cell mutation, aging, dark spots, dehydration, inflammation, immune function damage and in some instances cancer.

Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke, pollution, smoke and radiation. … Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and carotenoids, may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Anti-oxidants can be found in topical skincare products, vitamins and healthy super foods. Below are my list of anti-oxidants everyone should be ingesting and applying and also ingesting to maximize on the skin’s best natural defense system.

The best way to protect against and repair environmentally or digitally damaged skin is to use an anti-pollution based skin care regimen. Exfoliation + cleanse to remove the dead and polluted skin cells. Then treat the skin by using anti-pollution, anti-aging or brightening serum, then seal the skin with a moisturizer and last but not least protect (SPF 30 or higher). The most potent and highest regarded pollution fighting ingredients are Red Tea/Roobois, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin C, Retinol, Resveratrol, White Horehound and the powerful Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit Extract, found in our new anti-pollution Mist RX – that can be applied throughout the day to keep your skin properly protected.

 

How about lifestyle-wise? E.g. screen time breaks, no double screening at home… 

Investing in blue blocker eyeglasses may help the strain and effects to the delicate skin around the eye area.  Try to limit screen time and always remember to wear protective and restorative skincare and sunscreen.

The Sun is the number one environmental damage for skin.  Both UVA/UVB rays are harmful. Protect yourself by wearing a hat and sunglasses. Shielding your skin, head and eyes can help with sun damage and pollution-based aging. Always wash you face to remove the residue and makeup from the day. Remember all the pollution from car exhaust, factories and the weak ozone layer sits on the skin!

Eating healthy can also reduce pollution effects on the skin and the body. Eat a diet high in anti-oxidant rich foods such as leafy greens and berries and foods high in essential fatty acids (salmon and almonds). Stay away form foods that can encourage and cause Glycation. The Glycation process, which is basically, sugars (from food and alcohol) breaking down the collagen fibers in the skin and therefore speeding up the aging process. Foods that feed Glycation and cause inflammation in the body and the skin are carbohydrates, fried foods, sugar, processed fatty meats and alcohol.

A healthy skincare regimen will work to fight against outside pollutants.

 

Inside the nucleus of every cell, from skin cells to brain cells, there are tiny organelles called mitochondria. These are the essential powerhouses that produce the energy needed for normal cell function and survival. The decline of mitochondrial function caused by free radical damage is often associated with aging. Antioxidants that has been proven to fight the effects of aging and provide essential protection to our complexion. We had a chance to get the 411 from Dr. G on how and why it’s so important to incorporate anti-oxidants into our diet and skincare regimen.

What are the benefits of antioxidants? 

Antioxidants come in many different shapes and sizes, including foods, topical plant derived antioxidant actives, to name a few, but the quality they all share is that they are able to neutralize free radicals, preventing them from damaging the body – both internally and externally. Free radical formation is normal. Plants, animals, and humans produce free radicals all of the time. Our bodies have defenses against free radicals, but when the strength of these defenses are outweighed by the amount of free radicals themselves, they can cause lasting harm, and even cell death. That’s why incorporating anti-oxidants into both your skincare and foods are crucial for obtaining a youthful existence.

Why are they essential for skincare? 

Research has been substantiating the benefits of super potent antioxidants for a long time and they are absolutely essential for the skin for both the protecting and nourishing skin properties that they contain.

Antioxidants not only help combat and protect the skin from the toxic elements that are the leading cause for the visible signs of aging (photo-aging, sagging, loss of elasticity), but anti-oxidants in all forms also contain various enzymes, nutrients and vitamins that can help to revitalize the skins texture and tone and also calm irritated skin.

Can antioxidants in food have a similar effect on your skin that skincare has? 

Overall wellness and healthy-looking skin certainly requires more than just incorporating topical treatments. So much of what we see on the outside (in terms of a healthy-looking complexion), is a result of how healthy we are internally.

In the same way that anti-oxidants help to fight free radical damage to our skin cells caused by environmental stresses on the skin, ingesting anti-oxidants (*mostly come from fresh fruits and vegetables) they help prohibit and also prevent the oxidation of harmful molecules that can form in the body. If free radicals are left to roam freely within the body, it can lead to a wide range of illnesses.

What are the best sources of antioxidants in food? 

Fruits, vegetables, seeds, tea, and legumes.

We see free-radicals thrown around as a buzzword, what are they and why are they harmful? 

Cumulative exposure to toxins in the form of ultraviolet rays of the sun, pollution and environmental stresses (smoke, UVA/UVB rays, pollution, etc.) produces free radicals that can damage the sensitive lipids, proteins and DNA in your skin cells. This environmental-induced damage to your skin can result in gradual loss of tone, wrinkling, discoloration, increased redness, and even cancer. Topical treatment with green tea polyphenols has been shown to help prevent the DNA damage that leads to skin cancer and to support the general health and long-lasting beauty of your skin.

What are your favorite sources of antioxidants and why?

Fruits and vegetables of course, but uniquely, Red tea (also known as Roobis) contains some of the most potent natural antioxidants known for protecting your skin from the free radical damage that can cause aging. These include vitamins C,E and beta-carotene. Red tea is known to possess 50 times the antioxidant capacity of green tea due to a high concentration of a special enzyme called superoxide dismutase(SOD for short), a major scavenger of free radicals. The combination of these natural vitamins and enzymes found in red tea aids in promoting new skin health after the removal of dead and damaged cells, giving your skin a smoother, brighter, and healthier appearance. In addition, red tea also contains a number of powerful polyphenolsand flavonoidsthat help heal and rejuvenate the skin.

Peel, exfoliate, treat, hydrate, control, pH balanced. Does this sound like your brain when dealing with your skin? The struggle to balance skin no matter your age can be daunting. The goal is to improve tone, texture, firmness, softness and hydration. So, what is pH balanced skin and why is it so important?

The skin has a very thin protective layer on the surface called the acid mantel. This layer is comprised of sebum from sebaceous glands and lactic acid and amino acids (from our body’s sweat). The ideal ‘balanced’ level is around 5.5, slightly on the acidic side. So how do we ensure proper balance? Correct products and ingredients, paying attention to your climate and listening to your skin’s signals.

Exfoliation + Cleansing

Cleansing or washing the face should happen at least once a day if not twice. Upon waking, washing the face will remove the residue from applied night treatments and regimen. If you choose to cleanse in the AM, make sure to use a cleanser that won’t strip or dry the skin. Cleansing the skin at night is crucial! No exceptions. The skin is exposed to many pollutants from just stepping foot outside your home. Soot, car exhaust, sun, second hand smoke and many other pollutants wreak havoc on the skin leaving a layer of dirt and free radicals. Makeup also needs to be removed no matter what. Sleeping in makeup is one of the worst things you can do for your skin. Clogged pores will lead to break outs and or rashes. By cleansing at night the skin is ready to receive and absorb any applied serums and creams.

When we talk about ‘cleansing’ we need to include exfoliation. Everyone should exfoliate their skin two to three times a week, unless they suffer from rosacea or eczema, in which case use an enzymatic exfoliator. Depending on the season and climate, exfoliation can be increased or decreased. Both manual and chemical exfoliation is recommended and dependent on results desired.

Listen To Your Skin

Over cleansing is never recommended as it strips the skin of natural oils which can cause an over production of oil/sebum and thus a breakout. However, this is highly dependent on what type of cleanser (ingredients) being used and skin type. If you are oily and using a gentle gel based natural cleanser, like our ‘Pure Start cleanser’, you can’t really over cleanse. If you are typically dry or sensitive you have to be careful what types of ingredients you choose. Stay away from astringents, acids, sodium lauryl sulfate and alcohol. If your skin starts to feel dry or stripped, gets irritated or flaky, listen to the signs. Over cleansing and under cleansing can both cause-unbalanced skin.

Climate + Environment

Balanced skin can also be a result of the climate and environment lived in. For example if you live in a cold climate, exfoliation should decrease during cold, dry months. Likewise, cleansing and antioxidant protection should increase in urban settings to battle pollution and free radicals.

Dr. G tip:

Pollution releases microscopic particles or free radicals that can go deep into the skin and cause damage to otherwise healthy cells. The outcome is loss of elasticity (wrinkles and sagging) and Hyperpigmentation (dark spots).

The Balancing Ingredients

Balancing the skin is a dance between the right amounts of exfoliation/cleansing as mentioned above and the ingredients, which deliver the soothing, nourishing hydration and softness back to the skin. Dr. G has created an all in one mask, The Skin Balancing Mask for this exact reason. A botanical-rich treatment mask which features a multi-peptide and enzyme blend that refines pores and helps to improve skin elasticity and increase collagen production. Ginseng, Honey, Flower Extracts, Jojoba Oil and Vitamin E infuse moisture, vitality and nourishment back into the skin.