One of your skin’s primary functions is to protect your body from environmental elements. The stressors it endures can cause considerable damage if left unprotected. And you may not notice the damage right away. Premature aging or conditions such as skin cancer can occur over time. It is important to be aware of what elements in your environment can harm your skin and how to protect yourself.
Environmental Stressors and How They Impact Your Skin
Every day you are exposed to environmental stressors that affect your skin’s health. They exist both indoors and outdoors. Knowing what is in your environment can help you protect yourself.
UVA and UVB Rays
The sun produces a spectrum of electromagnetic energy. Specific rays can damage the skin. Two of these harmful factors are UVA and UVB rays. These cause changes to the DNA and RNA in your skin, leading to photoaging or even certain skin cancers.
UVA rays have a longer wavelength and penetrate the skin deeper than UVB rays. They are also able to penetrate clouds and windows. UVA damage is not immediately visible, as the changes occur in the deeper layers of skin.
UVB rays have a shorter wavelength. They do not penetrate as deep as UVA rays. The damage can be immediately apparent, such as redness and burning. Long-term skin changes can also occur with overexposure.
While medical or dermatological procedures use blue light, overexposure is harmful. The sun is the most prominent source of blue light. Electronics, fluorescent lighting, and LED lighting emit blue light rays as well. Blue light rays penetrate deeper than UVA and UVB rays. Prolonged or frequent exposure causes skin cells to shrink and die. This contributes to photoaging and hyperpigmentation.
Air Pollutants, Fine Dust, and Urban Smog
Do you live in a densely populated area? If so, your skin is at risk of exposure to many air pollutants. Vehicles, factories, tobacco smoke, and the burning of fossil fuels emit pollutants into the air. These contaminants include:
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Carbon monoxide
- Particulate matter
- Heavy metals
Healthy skin contains antioxidants that counteract the damage these pollutants cause. Prolonged or repetitive exposure reduces the number of antioxidants in your skin. This gap in protection leaves you vulnerable to free radicals, which cause fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. Inflammation may occur, resulting in conditions such as acne or eczema.
UVA rays, UVB rays, and blue light play a major role in the oxidation of your skin. Oxidation is the process of oxygen metabolism within your skin cells. These cells decay once they metabolize the oxygen. When your cells decay faster than they rejuvenate, photoaging occurs. Oxidation plays a greater role in skin aging than chronological age.
While the skin is a natural barrier to moisture loss, it can lose moisture with exposure to environmental stress. Dehydration occurs when your skin loses more moisture than it can replenish. Natural moisturizing factors found in the epidermis bind to water to maintain the proper moisture level in the skin. These factors include amino acids, urea, and various minerals. When these factors are lost, the skin loses moisture.
Overexposure to the Elements
Prolonged or excessive exposure to heat, cold, or wind can also wreak havoc on your skin. The amount of exposure to harmful chemicals, pollutants, UVA rays, UVB rays, blue light, and extreme weather is relative to the extent of damage to your skin. Skin damaged from previous exposure is at higher risk for serious complications, such as skin cancer.
How to Shield Yourself from Environmental Stressors
Environmental stressors are everywhere you go. It is essential to protect your skin. Using a clean mineral sunscreen should be your first line of defense. My Day Screen™ offers mineral plant-based sunscreen products to shield your skin from the elements. The ingredients used in these products are also known to aid in healing existing skin damage.
Learn how My Day Screen™ products can protect and heal your skin from environmental stressors.
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