The Science of Skin Health: What Damages Our Skin?

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Achieving clear and healthy skin is a goal for many of us, but it’s essential to grasp the science behind it. Recent studies reveal the delicate balance crucial for skin vitality, shedding light on factors that can harm its health. From what we eat to sunlight to cosmetics, it’s important to figure out what actions to avoid for optimal skin health.

At La Belle Vie Medical Care & Aesthetics in Draper, Utah, we firmly believe that knowledge is the ultimate beauty treatment. In this blog, we explore findings that uncover potential issues leading to skin problems. Understanding what not to do empowers us to make informed choices, supporting the resilience and vibrancy of our skin. Come along on this journey through the science of skin health as we discover the keys to preserving and enhancing our body’s first line of defense.


Diet Affects Skin Health

A 2001 food study published in The Journal of American College of Nutrition suggests that higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, and olive oil may have a protective effect against sun-induced skin wrinkling. Conversely, a diet rich in meat, dairy, and butter may contribute to an increased risk of wrinkles.

In the study, researchers examined skin wrinkling in 413 elderly individuals from different regions. Results showed that those from Sweden had the least sun-induced skin wrinkling, followed by Greece, Spain, and Australia. Analyzing overall data and major food groups, the study suggested a potential link between diet and skin health. Higher consumption of vegetables, olive oil, fish, and legumes correlated with less skin damage, while lower intake of butter, margarine, milk products, and sugar products showed similar trends. Regression analyses indicated that 32% of skin damage variance was predicted by dietary factors. Notably, a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, and olive oil seemed protective, while a higher intake of meat, dairy, and butter appeared adverse for skin health. Prunes, apples, and tea explained 34% of the variance among Australians.

To learn more about the tole of nutrition in skin health and beauty check out our blog.

Unprotected Sun Exposure Effects Skin Health

The sun can cause skin damage through the emission of ultraviolet radiation (UVA, UVB, and UVC rays). UVA rays penetrate the skin deeply and are associated with premature aging, causing wrinkles and fine lines. UVB rays, on the other hand, primarily affect the skin’s outer layers, leading to sunburns and contributing to the development of skin cancers. While UVC rays are the most dangerous, they are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and rarely reach the surface.

UV radiation induces damage by triggering the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within skin cells. ROS, including free radicals, can harm cellular structures like DNA, proteins, and lipids. This oxidative stress leads to collagen breakdown, reducing skin elasticity and causing the formation of wrinkles. Moreover, UV exposure can activate enzymes that degrade collagen and elastin, essential proteins for maintaining skin structure.

Repeated sun exposure without proper protection can result in long-term damage, such as hyperpigmentation, age spots, and the breakdown of the skin’s supportive network. Additionally, prolonged UV exposure increases the risk of skin cancers. To mitigate these effects, using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and seeking shade are crucial in safeguarding the skin from the harmful impact of the sun.


Harmful Synthetic Cosmetics Effects Skin Health

Contemporary synthetic cosmetics have the potential to harm the skin microbiome over the long term. A 2019 study explored the potential impact of synthetic chemical ingredients in modern cosmetics on the skin microbiome. The study, conducted in collaboration with The Medical University of Graz, involved 32 participants testing three face washes over four weeks. The research assessed microbial diversity, skin pH, moisture, and water loss. Using 16S rRNA sequencing, the study found preliminary evidence linking synthetic ingredients in cosmetics to changes in skin microbiome biodiversity.

The study not only reinforced earlier findings that greater biodiversity corresponds to healthier skin but also identified shifts in diversity, skin moisture, and TEWL attributable to product use. It concluded that products with higher synthetic ingredient content exhibited a less positive impact on average biodiversity, particularly within the initial two weeks of use.

Other Factors That Damage Skin

In addition to the well-known factors such as sun exposure, diet, and cosmetics, various other elements can impact the health of our skin. Understanding these additional factors is crucial for maintaining optimal skin health and preventing damage. Here are some lesser-known contributors to skin damage that warrant attention and consideration.

Smoking: Tobacco smoke contains harmful chemicals that accelerate the aging process of the skin, leading to wrinkles, fine lines, and a loss of skin elasticity. A 2019 review publication stated, “Epidemiological studies indicate that tobacco smoking is a strong independent predictor of facial wrinkle formation and other aspects of premature skin aging.”

Dehydration: Insufficient hydration can result in dry and flaky skin, compromising its elasticity and resilience. Proper water intake is essential for maintaining skin health.

Stress: Chronic stress triggers the release of hormones that can negatively impact the skin, contributing to conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Pollution: Environmental pollutants, such as particulate matter and toxins, can contribute to skin damage by promoting inflammation, oxidative stress, and premature aging. This was evidenced in a 2021 study conducted by Soomin Kim and Jihee Kim.

Lack of Exercise: Regular physical activity promotes healthy blood flow, nourishing the skin and aiding in the removal of toxins. Sedentary lifestyles may contribute to skin issues.

Sleeping Habits: Sleeping with makeup on or in positions that cause friction with the pillow can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, and the formation of sleep lines that contribute to wrinkles.

Harsh Weather Conditions: Extreme temperatures, wind, and low humidity levels can strip the skin of its natural moisture, leading to dryness, redness, and irritation.

Hot Showers: Prolonged exposure to hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, resulting in dryness and potentially exacerbating existing skin conditions. In 2010, research revealed that bathing and showering with hot water can double the skin’s blood flow rate.

Genetic Factors: Genetic predispositions can influence how the skin ages and its susceptibility to certain conditions. Understanding family history can help tailor skincare routines.

Lack of Sleep: Inadequate sleep disrupts the skin’s natural repair processes, leading to dullness, dark circles, and an increased susceptibility to skin conditions. A 2017 study showed that a single night of sleep deprivation notably impacts the biophysical properties of facial skin, resulting in diminished hydration, reduced elasticity, decreased translucency, and an increase in scaling.

In Conclusion

This blog serves as a starting point in raising awareness about key factors that can impact skin health, including sunlight exposure, dietary choices, and the products we use on our skin. While not an exhaustive list, understanding these elements provides a foundation for making informed decisions about our skincare routines.

For personalized guidance on optimizing your skin health, consider scheduling a consultation at La Belle Vie Medical Care & Aesthetics in Draper, Utah. Our experts can provide tailored recommendations to help you achieve and maintain healthy, radiant skin. We offer a myriad of medical spa treatments tailored to your needs. Take the first step towards your best skin by booking a consultation today!

Kelly Lance