Climate Change & Your Skin
When it comes to climate change, environmental impact on our skin is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. With rapid change happening on a daily basis - from wildfires, excessive heat, increased pollution, the weather’s impact on our largest organ is inevitable. Our skin is also the most exposed organ in ]our bodies, protecting all the other ones that keep us ticking.
Skin’s primary purpose is to help us retain water which makes up 70% of our body. While it helps us keep stuff out, it also helps us keep stuff in. Even though it does a great job of preventing things from coming in, things inevietably find a way of breaking through. Pollution and environmental stressors has a big impact on this. Industrial pollution, even wildfire pollution, releases polycyclic hydrocarbon coating particulate matter that wreaks havoc on the health and longevity of our skin. They can overwhelm the skin, breaking down it’s natural antioxidizing defenses.
Our skin often shows us some of the first signs that something in our bodies is going wrong. From cases of coronavirus giving skin “frost-bitten” like features, to breaking out into hives from something disagreeing with our body, it’s inevitable that changing climate will continue to push our skin’s to extremes in order to protect the rest of our bodies.
What are the impacts?
More recently, we’ve discovered that pollution contributes to hyperpigmentation, increased skin-aging, acne, even eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. The same particles that trigger dermatitis also trigger asthma which frequently go hand in hand.
Similar to when we have an adverse reaction to greasy-products that clogs pores and triggers breakouts, pollutants have the ability to do just the same.
Higher and more intense exposure to sunlight is also impacting the wellbeing of the skin. Our skin is constantly working to protect the body against UVA/UVB rays, UVB rays being responsible for most skin cancer cases. Globally, there is a rise in melanoma cases attributed to increased sun exposure and a diminishing ozone layer.
While there are signs that the ozone layer is repairing itself, it’s expected that these excess holes won’t close until at least 2050, leaving us with at minimum 3 decades of excess UVB rays that our skin will have to protect itself from.
With the diminishing of the “good ozone”, it’s led to an increase in the “bad ozone” that we are constantly exposed to. This is largely made up of dangerous carcinogens from fossil fuel pollution and heat.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
There’s no immediate solution for climate change, but while we’re doing the work to improve climate change and it’s impacts, there are a few things we can do to protect our most important and vulnerable organ.
Using SPF daily is the easiest way to go about this. We often think of our face as the primary part of our body that needs “skincare”, but with SPF, this goes for the entire body. Preventing an opportunity for UVA/UVB rays to penetrate the skin’s barrier and inflict even more damage is a simple start to protection.
In addition to that, we love that so many skincare products are being thoughtfully formulated to include antioxidizing ingredients that work with your skin to protect the barrier and help fight free radical damage. Rael’s Glow Chemistry serum is a powerful formula that not only hydrates, but it also helps protect with fullerene. Salt + Stone’s sports-strength SPF is also formulated with antioxidizing ingredients that work in conjunction to not only block UVA/UVB rays, but also helps to block free radicals that cause toxic damage to our skin barrier.
Another simple tool - wear a hat. Your skin will thank you for taking care of it while it’s already healthy.