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News flash: your skin is under attack every day.
This might sound dramatic, but it’s true! Your face and body come in contact with tons of stressors each day -- like smoke, UV rays, and even dirt -- that irritate your skin, damage your cells, and try to make you look older than you really are. It sucks, and it’s actually pretty terrifying if you let yourself think about it for too long (or consider the long-term repercussions - yikes!).
The good news? You can actually do something about it if you actually know what’s going on and how to stop the damage in its tracks (take that, environmental stressors!).
Here’s what you need to know.
First thing’s first: what exactly is damaging your skin? Well, there are both internal and external exposures to take into account (collectively known as the exposome).
All of these factors ultimately age the skin by:
In all instances, avoiding the harmful exposures as much as possible is key to getting it under control. The right skincare can also help.
First, there are the internal aggressors: bad habits or physical responses that can take your skin’s heath back a notch. These include:
Everyone seems to get inadequate sleep from time to time. Kids, meetings, the stress of getting through the pandemic - it can all negatively impact our day-to-day ability to catch up on some zzz’s.
And this can have more of a negative impact than you might realize. While you sleep, your cells repair themselves and dead cells are replaced with restored new ones. On top of that, restful sleep can restore hormone levels and keep you feeling solid.
Miss out on shut eye, then, and you can face consequences like:
Stress can seriously contribute to acne and other skin concerns. Think about it: acne is an inflammatory disease. Many stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, actually trigger more inflammation. That’s why, when you get an acne flare, you’ll also see typical signs of inflammation like redness, swelling, and itching.
And the problems don’t end there. Cortisol can also trigger increased sebum production - leading to oilier skin - and ongoing stress can weaken the immune system, making your skin more reactive and sensitive to triggers and rashes.
We all know that sugar and processed food is bad - but you may not know exactly why.
For starters, an unhealthy diet full of refined carbohydrates and processed foods can actually encourage mild inflammation which, in turn, can trigger acne and other inflammation-related skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Additionally, when you eat lots of sugar, your body produces more insulin. Well, insulin alsoencourages increased sebum production and clogged follicles. Translation? Oily, broken out skin.
A healthy diet, on the other hand, can do wonders for your skin. For one, foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids - like fish, nuts, and oils - can increase collagen production and boost cellular turnover. What’s more, a plant based diet will be high in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and carotenoids, all of which can protect your cells from the inside out.
Next, there are external aggressors: environmental hazards and toxins that can wreak havoc on your skin. These include sun radiation (which includes ultraviolet radiation, visible light, and infra-red radiation), air pollution, tobacco smoke, and cosmetic products. Let’s break these down a little more:
The sun is the number one cause of wrinkles, hands down. In fact, 80% of the visible signs of aging are caused by UV rays, which means the majority of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and other signs of premature aging are caused by the sun.
Even when the air around you seems fresh, chances are it’s full of pollutants, which the WHO separates into:
All of these pollutants generate free radicals,unstable compounds that steal from your cells to stabilize themselves (that’s an oversimplification, but you can read more about free radicals and what they do here). This wreaks havoc on the skin (after all, your cells are literally unstable messes!), leading to things like:
This is a big one, and you may not even realize that you’re doing anything wrong. A lot of the “skincare tips” that we learned growing up are all wrong, and they’ve led to some seriously damaging habits.
Working hard to mattify the skin, for example, has led to the use of a ton of harsh acids and stripping cleansers. These products have badingredients like alcohol, detergents, or highly concentrated acids, and they actually strip away the skin’s natural barrier. This leads to oversensitive, dry, and damaged skin.
Similarly, many people have been taught to over-exfoliate or to blast a breakout with the toughest acne products. All of this, too, will strip away the skin’s natural barrier, leading to microtears in the skin, redness, inflammation, and a slew of other concerns.
It’s all about balance and caring for your skin’s microbiome - more on that later.
This one’s a no-brainer. Smoking not only internally increases your chances of developing serious illnesses, but also externally chokes skin cells with smoke. This can contribute to wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and other signs of premature aging.
Indoor heating, indoor cooling, and too-hot showers can all strip the skin of its natural oils and dry it out.
The good news? All of these internal and external aggressors can be effectively addressed with the right skincare ingredients.
The above aggressors ultimately cause five underlying skin concerns: inflammation, a compromised skin barrier, decreased ability to repair wounds, increased risk of skin cancer, and skin dehydration. Believe it or not, the right active ingredients can help target and even reverse all of these issues.
Antioxidants -- like polyphenols, vitamin C, and vitamin E -- actually stabilize free radicals, stopping the progression of damage in its tracks. They can also reverse existing free radical damage and:
Moisture, damage protection, and accelerated healing? Sign us up!
To repair a damaged barrier or dehydrated skin, you’ll want a great moisturizer followed by a biomimetic face oil.
The moisturizer, for one, should contain humectant and emollient ingredients.That’s the trick (and if you’ve used a moisturizer that doesn’twork super well, it’s probably because it’s either missing one or the other). Humectants like hyaluronic acid, on one hand, work by drawing moisture into the skin from the surrounding environment. Emollients, on the other hand, seal that moisture in for long-lasting benefits.
The right face oil - which should always be the final step - works as an emollient or an occlusive. This is the final seal that locks in your active ingredients while further restoring your skin’s barrier and providing lots of hydration. The key here, though, is to choose a formula with oils that are close in composition to your own sebum(like jojoba and squalane). That way, it won’t irritate your skin or clog pores.
If you want to stop damage from UV rays, you have to incorporate a sunscreen into your regimen (rain or shine). Look, specifically, for a sunscreen that offers:
We mentioned this already, but there’s really no overstating the importance of a healthy skin barrier. Some ingredients that can help include:
Ready to get started? You can find all the ingredients you need to start protecting and restoring your skin in the Daily Essentials Routine. Bye, bye stress - hello, glowing skin!