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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.

 

 Why is Vitamin D crucial in skincare?

In addition to being a key factor in skin cell growth and replacement, vitamin D also plays a major role in skin repair and protection. When microorganisms attack the skin, they secrete certain extracts that stimulate your skin to produce vitamin D. This vitamin D signals your skin’s innate immune system to start manufacturing a substance called cathelicidin, a very powerful germicide. Cathelicidin disrupts the integrity of bacterial cell membranes, resulting in the death of the microbes. Cathelicidin also helps promote the development of blood vessels and encourages new cell growth, both of which are essential for proper wound healing.

Your skin is also extremely susceptible to free radical damage because of its high rate of metabolism and fatty acid content. Free-radicals deteriorate your skin’s structural support and decrease its elasticity, resilience, and suppleness. In order to protect itself from this constant oxidative stress, your skin has a natural supply of antioxidants. One of the most powerful of these is vitamin D. In fact, Vitamin D has been shown to be more effective than vitamin E in reducing lipid peroxidation.

Technically speaking, vitamin D isn’t a true vitamin. A vitamin is defined as a substance that’s essential to daily life, which can’t be manufactured by the body. Since your skin can produce approximately 10,000 IU of vitamin D after just 20-30 minutes of summer sun exposure, it doesn’t really fit the profile. Vitamin D more closely resembles a hormone than a vitamin. The active form of vitamin D, called calcitriol, is the most powerful hormone produced by the human body. It has the ability to activate over 2000 genes, many of which are involved in critical aspects of skin cell metabolism, growth, repair, and protection.

What is better for absorbing Vitamin’s D’s benefits for the skin? Topical application, oral supplement or the Sun? 

 Applying topical products, which contain Vitamin D, or getting Vitamin D from the sun is very different than taking a vitamin D oral supplement. Oral supplements have to be broken down in the stomach and then distributed throughout the body. The last place supplements will reach (if they even do) is the skin. This is why we recommend using topical products, which contain Vitamin D for, skin health.  However, oral supplementation of Vitamin D is crucial for internal health. You need to do all.

Dry and arid desert climates consistently get ranked amongst the worst to live in for the condition of one’s skin. In addition to lifestyle choices like, wearing a hat, sunglasses and sun protective clothing, proper skincare regimen is highly effective in protecting against the issues that arise from this type of environment.

The Issues:

Dry climates dehydrate skin and can invite early onset of wrinkles. With intense sun and high heat, the skin has nowhere to hide. The more sun exposure you have, the more damage you’re doing to your skin. Replenishing hydration and sun protection is extremely important in this type of climate.

The Solutions:

Chose an exfoliation product that targets dead skin cell removal, sun damage and hyper pigmentation. Chemical exfoliators and enzymatic peels target all. Look for Lactic acid (found in Fresh A Peel) as the main active as it actually draws moisture to the surface of the skin, thus preventing additional dehydration and dryness.

Because skin is so prone to dryness in these types of environments, Dr. Goldfaden recommends using anti-aging serums and super hydrating moisturizer. Ingredients such as CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Retinol keep skin tone tight and toned, while African botanic oils, Baobob, Kalahari and Mongongo deliver Omega fatty acids for extreme hydration.

Always protect the face and body with sunscreen 30 SPF or higher. The sun can be very intense in these types of climate, so sun protection is imperative.