The sun gives off many different types of rays – cosmic, gamma, ultraviolet, visible and infra-red, but only those reaching the surface of the Earth – ultraviolet, visible and infra-red-rays – have any known effect on skin cells. While these rays are essential to life on earth, they can be very harmful as well. UV rays are one of the key factors responsible for premature skin aging (90%), and excessive sun exposure can cause sunburn, diminution of the immune system and later on, hyper pigmentation or even skin cancers. As such, prolonged sun exposure should be avoided, and any sun exposure should be moderated with a protective sun screen capable of blocking broad-spectrum UVA and UVB rays.
Atmospheric pollution consists of toxic elements being added to the air. When coming in contact with the skin, these toxins penetrate and spread through the epidermis. They disrupt the cells of the epidermis, slowing down their regeneration. Furthermore, dermatologists have observed and intensification of irritation and sensitivity in healthy skin, or even aggravation of certain dermatosis, in polluted environments.
This skin is often exposed to chemical allergens, both natural and synthetic, that come in contact with the skin through the use of non-hypoallergenic cosmetic products, detergents and fabric softeners. These allergens can trigger the skin’s defense mechanisme resulting in redness, increased sensitivity, and even inflammation.
Harsh cold and fluctuating temperatures
As the centre of thermal exchanges with the surrounding environment, the skin is constantly under external aggressions, especially during winter. Extremely dry conditions rob the skin of its moisture. Extreme shifts in temperature due to the climactic differences between outdoor and indoor environments can seriously aggravate the skin.
Make-up, impurities, dust, debris, perspiration and pollutants can accumulate on the skin as a result of poor hygiene. These aggressors can consequently clog pores and irritate the skin.
Stress triggers a chain reaction of hormones that have a number of effects on the body, including quickened breathing and heart rates, and increased muscle reaction speed. For the skin, stress triggers its sebum production, resulting in oilier, shinier skin that can be accompanied by breakouts. Stress also triggers the release of histamines in the dermis, leaving the skin more susceptible to irritation ans swelling.
Food and water quality
The food and water we ingest directly affect the quality of nutrients that feed our skin. Without the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential to the proper functioning of the skin’s metabolic processes, the skin functions less effectively. Consuming food that is unhealthy adds to this problem, as it introduces toxins into the body that further impede the proper functioning of the skin.
Certain types of medication can affect the skin’s balance or structure, with side-effects ranging from irritation and photo-sensitivity to dehydration and increased sebum production, depending on the type of medication. Always check with your physician about the possible side-effects of the medicine you take.
Smoking deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients by constricting the capillaries supplying blood to the skin.
Hormones play a major role in regulating the metabolic activity of the skin. Fluctuations in hormone levels can cause a variety of problem, ranging from dryness to breakouts. A lack of hormones is also one of the key factors in skin aging.
Genetic predispositions or a specific incident affecting the health of an individual may leave skin unable to function as it normally should, resulting in a skin disorder such as eczema or acne.