Written by Bend Beauty
Your skin is more susceptible than your other organs to damaging environmental factors. For example, it is highly prone to drying by indoor heating and parched winter air. This weakens and dehydrates the skin barrier, making it appear dull, flaky, and wrinkled. Heat from the sun can pass through to the dermis and trigger production of enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. Chronic exposure induces inflammation, damages the dermal extracellular matrix, and promotes angiogenesis (i.e., blood vessel growth – like spider veins). These things promote skin aging (1). It can also lead to immune cell recruitment associated with non-melanoma skin cancer (2). Let’s dive in to more environmental factors that may damage skin health, and some things you can do environmentally to improve it!
Long, hot baths with harsh soap are problematic too (1). Dry skin in older people gets worse following hot baths and use of alkaline soaps (3). Anyone taking long, and hot baths can have skin pH changes and irritation due to skin barrier disruption, which can worsen some conditions (4). Air temperature changes may impact inactivation and excretion of toxic substances and excess nutrients. Low ambient temperatures constrict blood vessels which reduces skin blood flow and hampers delivery of triglycerides, cholesterol and some other excess nutrients destined for secretion within sebum. Lower skin temperature could also dampen the activity of some xenobiotic inactivation enzymes that typically prefer about 37 degrees Celcius to function optimally. This could reduce toxin elimination (2). On the other hand, heat exposure increases body temperature which triggers skin blood vessel dilation and sweating. Blood flow to the skin can increase from about 1 cup per minute at room temperature to 8 liters per minute at higher temperatures. Such increased surface blood flow could increase (2):
Delivery of toxins to the skin surface
Elimination of water-soluble toxic substances in sweat
Elimination of lipid soluble substances within sebum
All these changes could reduce the body’s toxin load and improve its oxidative state (8). This may be one reason why saunas are valued purification or cleansing tools for environmentally induced illnesses. Sauna therapy benefits have been reported in people with hypertension, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and addictions (9). Sauna bathing also dramatically decreases a blood marker of systemic inflammation (10), which could partly account for its risk lowering effects on dementia and AD; both conditions where oxidative stress and inflammation are major contributors (11). Therefore, optimizing environmental factors to enhance skin health can also have longevity enhancing effects.
What are some things you can do environmentally to improve your skin health?
Ensure you’re incorporating whole-food and plant-based options into your daily menu. The Mediterranean diet is well recognized to prevent age related diseases such as stroke, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer disease (12).
Exercise. One of the best benefits of exercise is reduced inflammation. Studies show it can reduce inflammatory markers in older adults. In fact, a long-term exercise routine can actually re-program your metabolism to make fewer inflammatory metabolites on a routine basis through epigenetic changes. Such genetic changes coupled with less inflammation were measured in one study of older adults who exercised regularly and another study involving a 6-month walking regimen. However, intense training that exceeds an individual’s physical abilities can have the opposite effect – balance is key (13).
Good quality sleep. Poor sleep quality and quantity, which is defined as 5 hours or less, is associated with increased skin ageing and decreased skin barrier function. On the other hand, after exposure to UV light, good sleepers have significantly better “sunburn” recovery (14).
Dry-brushing! Dry-brushing your skin may also help remove toxins by increasing blood circulation in the skin and physically removes toxins from its surface by exfoliation (15).
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The Education Collection is a series of blog posts that will provide education surrounding skin health from the inside out. We have partnered with Bend Beauty for this collaboration because we both are on a collective mission to change the narrative surrounding beauty. Bend Beauty is bending the path towards sustainable beauty by providing education and science behind what we put into and onto our bodies, using innovative research that allows us to understand new elements of skin health and longevity and applying that directly to their product development. Beyond Beauty Project and Bend Beauty truly believe that aging is a magical part of life and that beauty is how you feel - from the inside out. Bend has our BBP Stamp of Approval, which is reserved for brands that share the same philosophy and mission as us. We are looking to partner with brands that are committed to not using any verbiage that erodes our self-worth or self-esteem, and who are committed to changing the narrative of beauty for all of us. We love beauty and we love beauty products as much as anyone else, but we firmly believe that there is a way to have all of the fun luxurious products while also feeling empowered about ourselves and our own beauty. We hope you enjoy the third part of Beyond Beauty Project x Bend Beauty's Education Collection.
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