Environmental Factors that Affect Skin

We live in a great big world.  The main interface between our surroundings and our bodies is our skin.  So everything that we come in contact with – from air, to clothes to topical products – all have an impact on our skin.  Many of these environmental elements are harmful because they introduce toxins into our body through skin absorption.  Toxins hide in many unsuspecting places and are often prevalent in intangible ways, such as through UV rays, gasses, and other microscopic pollutants. 

Today we’re breaking down four the leading environmental factors that affect skin:


When it comes to our skin, the sun is the foremost cause of environmental concern.  Ultraviolet rays cause skin cancer and are the primary extrinsic reason for premature aging of the skin.  As global warming has accelerated, the sun has become hotter in the past 50 years, increasing incidence of skin cancer and other skin and eye diseases.  Additionally, the depletion of the ozone layer that once absorbed a significant amount of UVB rays means that more harmful rays reach our skin, causing cellular oxidation from free radicals released into the body.  Free radicals weaken cells, interrupting normal body operations and metabolic functions, impairing our immune systems and aging skin cells.  As cells loose strength, they cannot retain moisture or nutrients, cannot regenerate themselves in a healthy continual pattern and they are more susceptible to mutations that lead to disease.  For skin cells in particular, remaining plump, healthy and maintaining the constant process of regeneration is vital for a youthful appearance.  Otherwise, skin becomes wrinkled, sags, loses luster, forms a leathery texture and creates an overall tired, aged look.


We know that sunlight can cause cancer, but so can pollution.  The World Health Organization declared air pollution carcinogenic and accounts for approximately 200,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone.  City dwellers in highly industrialized countries are most at risk of inhaling and absorbing airborne particulates including car exhaust, factory chemical emissions and radiation from power plants.  Each of these pollution methods releases nanoparticles into the air, entering our bodies through our respiratory systems and our skin.  Nanoparticles poke holes in our collagen, reducing skin firmness and softness, and also clog pores, leading to acne and lowered blood circulation.  Pollution can also cause changes in skin pigmentation, dryness and a host of unwanted skin conditions.


Beyond sun exposure, the weather complicates matters of the skin.  Cold, dry climates lack humidity – healthy, beautiful skin needs hydration.  Yes, drinking water and moisturizing are part of hydrating skin cells, but when the air around you is void of moisture for months at a time, it is hard for your skin to recuperate.  Beyond standard dry, cracked skin, low-humidity can lead to eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and rosacea.  On the flip side, climates that are very hot and humid may cause excess sweat, oil and dirt to build up and clog pores.  Heat rash from trapped moisture under the skin may occur, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.


Environmental allergens such as those from pollinating flowers, mold and mildew, dust, pet dander and foods also affect the skin.  Some allergens are not actually bad for our health, but our bodies are not familiar with them and perceive them as a threat.  The immune system goes into full defense mode to protect your body against the foreign substance, which can lead to a range of symptoms, especially on your skin.  Allergens can cause puffiness, itchiness, swelling, eczema, rashes, hives and other skin conditions.  Many allergens cannot be avoided but can be managed through diet, health practices and medications.  Pinpointing skin allergies can often be tricky, but you can keep a log of exposure to narrow down potential culprits to avoid.

Staying indoors all the time is not a reasonable solution to environmental factors that damage skin, and probably wouldn’t eliminate all of them anyways.  Being smart about exposure to sun, pollution, harsh climates and allergens is important for your skin’s – and often full body’s – health.  Using our Natura Veda skin care products will help ameliorate the damage that many environmental elements can have on skin.  For example, a skin care regimen rich in antioxidants helps combat free radicals released into the body through sun and pollution.  Moisturization and deep cleaning is important for a variety of climate-related skin issues.  And using skin care products to reduce allergy symptoms will lessen their long-term impact on your skin. 

Natura Veda is here to help nourish and heal skin for your most beautiful, radiant self.

Erin Stieglitz
Erin Stieglitz