Climate change is more than just a trending buzzword. It is a continuously worsening reality our society faces. It is an environmental problem whose effects are seen and felt worldwide — from the widespread fires in Australia and California to increasing floods in Europe and China. Despite this, many of us still think of climate change as an abstract concept. As long as it doesn’t affect us directly or personally, we don’t take heed to any climate change issues.
Climate change affects each of us personally, right here and right now. With each step we take outside, we are exposing our skin to the negative effects of climate change and suffering from it.
Climate change not only causes unpredictable and extreme weather but also contributes to increasing allergens and harmful pollutants in the air we breathe. All of these take their toll on our skin. We’re not talking about just our skin appearance, either. Climate change and its subsequent effects can stress our skin and bring down its overall health.
Ultraviolet radiation is possibly the biggest cause of skin damage and faster skin aging. Exposing our skin to more UV rays can trigger greater production of free radicals and oxidation. This then leads to oxidative stress.
Prolonged periods of oxidative stress cause the collagen and elastin fibers in our skin to break down. This causes our skin to wrinkle, sag, and change in texture — all of which accelerates the skin aging process. Moreover, increased and extended exposure to UV radiation is a major risk factor for developing skin cancer.
Use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF daily to protect your skin from radiation. Reapply every two hours when outdoors.
Sunscreen is an absolute must to protect our skin from UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher to block at least 97% of UV rays.
Additionally, choose broad-spectrum sunscreens that offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are those that contribute to premature skin aging while UVB rays are the main causes of sunburn.
Both extremely hot and cold temperatures can cause our skin to become dehydrated. When our skin cells lose moisture, it becomes brittle and allows more toxins, allergens, and other irritants to breach the topmost layer of our skin.
Dehydrated skin becomes tighter, rougher, and more inflamed. It also soon starts flaking and itching. High temperatures can trigger excessive sweat production, as well. This can aggravate eczema symptoms and cause flare-ups. Meanwhile, fluctuating temperatures can trigger excess oil production and cause acne or pimple breakouts.
Use moisturizers daily and hydrating lotions daily to protect your skin from extreme temperatures. Apply serums, oils, and face masks as needed.
There are countless skin moisturizers, hydrating lotions, and body or facial oils we can use. Look for products that contain hyaluronic acid, which not only helps boost skin moisture levels but also increases its elasticity and reduce redness.
If using facial oils, make sure to choose ones that don’t clog the pores. We recommend sunflower oil, marula oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil. However, make sure the products are formulated for skincare use. It’s best to avoid essential oils, though, as these can irritate the skin. Some, such as lemon and other citrus essential oils, can even react adversely to UV light and cause burns or blisters.
Some causes of climate change, like the burning of fossil fuels, and the effects of climate change, such as higher temperatures, decrease air quality. This, in turn, can negatively affect our skin health. Hotter temperatures increase the amount of pollen and other pollutants that can irritate our skin and cause breakouts. Air pollution also causes free radical damage and oxidative stress, which hastens skin aging.
Double cleanse to remove pollutants. Use antioxidant serums to reduce oxidative stress. Double cleansing means washing our face twice using an oil-based and water-based cleanser. Oil-based cleansers break down makeup and other oil-based products, as well as remove any oil-based impurities. Water-based cleansers, meanwhile, remove grime and sweat.
Look for serums containing antioxidants to help the skin recover from oxidative stress. The most popular and most potent antioxidants for skincare include niacinamide, vitamin C, and vitamin A or retinol.
When layering skincare products, the general rule is to go from thin to thick. Start with watery products, like toners and serums, first and end with the creams and lotions. Experts also advise starting with products that contain ingredients we want to penetrate our skin, such as antioxidants.
Aside from enhancing our skincare routine, we should also pay attention to our clothes and limit our time spent outside, if possible. Taking multivitamins and antioxidants may also help repair the damage our skin takes on due to climate change.
Even if we can’t do much to mitigate the effects of climate change on our environment, we can do a lot to lessen its effects on our skin. Changing or introducing a few more steps to our daily skincare routine can do wonders to protect our skin from climate change.