Skin and the City. How Do Stress, Smog & Sun Affect the Skin?

Oxidative stress, free radicals, UV radiation – these terms will stay in the specialist language for good. We hear them in commercials, talk about them but few people their meaning. Let me clear that up 🙂

Do you live a hectic life? It depends in my case but I spend most time in the city where (sadly) dust, fumes, pollution, AC and obviously the hustle and bustle are completely normal. Only recently I found out that my skin suffers because of that. How does living in a city affect our skin condition?

  •  Speeds up skin aging and triggers first wrinkles.
  •  Causes dryness and damage of the natural protective skin barrier.
  •  Increases pigmentation and occurrence of discoloration.
  •  Intensifies the brittleness of blood vessels, increasing spider veins.
  •  Triggers the so-called oxidative stress that destroys collagen and elastin fibers.

If you’re still not sure if living in the city is bad for the skin, read on. Urban skin dangers come in three groups. I’d like to focus on all of them as each one largely affects the skin condition. Obviously, you can keep the dangers away with the right, antioxidant-rich products that protect, hydrate and condition the skin. On the other hand, knowing this and that is going to help, too.

How does smog affect the skin?

Have you ever wondered what you remove from the skin while taking makeup off in the evening? Cosmetics make up just a small part. There’s much more dust and other impurities on the skin after the whole day spent in the city. The smog is to be blamed. It’s thick air that is full of toxins, heavy metals, chemical compounds and dust of a very harmful influence on the body. The skin is most exposed to the smog action.

Smog has a bad impact on the skin because it easily penetrates the deepest layers. It causes inflammation that triggers acne breakouts. Toxins clog pores, make skin dry, may lead to pigmentation spots and speed up skin aging.

Effect of stress on the skin

Living a busy life in the city equals stress. I think you know perfectly well that stress is bad for the entire body. It made me feel blue, I couldn’t sleep, I got muscle cramps more often. The stress took all my strength. I didn’t expect it would be reflected in my skin, though.

In stressful situations, our body produces much more cortisol that isn’t indifferent to the skin. A long-lasting high level of the hormone intensifies psoriasis and eczema. Being on edge is another cause of the oxidative stress; I’ll write about it more later.

How does the sun affect the skin?

The sun is as bad for our skin. We know we must protect ourselves but it usually ends up in protection just while on the beach. Surprisingly, it’s the sunlight in the city that’s more dangerous; the sunrays glace off the glass and walls. It’s hard to hide; UVA radiation can’t be blocked by clouds or clothes. This type of radiation quickly damages collagen and elastin fibers, speeding up skin aging and wrinkles. Dryness, dullness and irritations are intensified.

Oxidative stress – what is it?

In the post, I repeated that smog, stress and sunlight cause the oxidative stress and it’s true. The oxidative stress is the lack of balance between the action of oxygen reactive forms (free radicals) and the ability of our bodies to the fast detoxification (self-repair). The notorious free radicals boost skin-aging processes. They come into being due to UV radiation, cigarette smoke, air pollution and stressful lifestyle. Summing up, a quicker skin aging is the result of living in a city, right next to the smog acne.

Would you like to read about the ways to do away with it?

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