Environmental Damage: Correcting and Protecting Our Skin

Environmental Damage: Correcting and Protecting Our Skin

By Elizabeth G Stratte, MD and Maren Stratte

Our skin has been suffering not only from ultraviolet light this summer, but the damaging effects of smoke. This clogs our pores and leaves a film of dangerous impurities on the surface of the skin - the debris along with UV light can make acne worse and accelerate damage and aging of the skin. Environmental aggressors harm the skin because they block pores and produce free radicals, which cause chronic skin inflammation at a cellular level. This irritation leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin in our skin, increasing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. They can also leave our skin dehydrated, dull, rough and red.

Tips to correct and prevent this damage include:

First, clean it off.

A thorough cleansing of skin each morning and evening to remove damaging particulates from exposure to smoke is critical. Any cleanser will do the trick, such as the gentle Avene Antirougeurs or our more active Obagi Foaming Cleanser.

Next, protect and correct.

Topical antioxidants can help prevent and repair damage caused by oxidative stress, which is associated with exposure to smoke, pollution and the sun. These should be applied in the morning to prevent damage due to the free radicals, heat and inflammation in the skin created by smoke and Ultraviolet light, and applied at night to repair damage while you sleep. Apply your acne treatments and anti-aging products after the antioxidant serums for the greatest effect.

Everyone can benefit by using the Obagi Nu-Derm toner twice each day after cleansing the skin. It removes surface impurities and adjusts your skin’s pH. You will thus have more benefit from your products and moisturizers. Containing aloe, calendula, and anti-oxidants, it refreshes the skin beautifully. Then apply an anti-oxidant serum.

For young women, Obagi C serum is a potent Vitamin C serum. It works as an antioxidant and boosts collagen production, both of which maintain the skin’s youthful appearance. Apply twice each day after cleansing and toning the skin. It is as refreshing as a glass of orange juice in the morning.

Older women and those concerned with pigmentation may choose Obagi C-Clarifying serum for their anti-oxidant treatment. Packed with vitamin C like the serum mentioned above, it also has hydroquinone to diminish brown spots and melasma.

Skin Medica offers a few great antioxidant options. Lytera 2.0 serum is full of many natural antioxidants including niacinamide (vitamin B3), the powerful anti-inflammatory, Vitis Vinifera (grape) flower extract, the strongest free radical scavenger, and vitamin E. Not only is it natural, it is safe for all skin types, including pregnant and nursing women.

Also consider my favorite nighttime skin renewal, the TNS Essential Serum. It is chock-full of the above antioxidants as well as peptides and growth factors.

Moisturize more than ever.

Environmental pollution damages the lipid layer, making our skin feel rough and dry. Choose a noncomedogenic mosturizer for acne prone skin or a luxurious one for normal or aging skin for a radiant appearance. Create a Barrier. Ultra-violet light is the worst environmental offender. Living in one of the sunniest cities in the U.S., we need to apply sunscreen every day, wether it is June or January, sunny or smokey. Fall in love with a sunscreen and look forward to applying it each day. 

Be beautiful from the inside out.

Eat antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, leafy greens, beans, pomegranates, goji berries, and enjoy green teas. They play a powerful role in our body's ability to repair itself, particularly the skin.

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