Skin Care

Send This Article By Email   |  Print Article - Text Only

What Affects My Skin?
Your skin is in a constant state of change...
by Carol Derksen
February 23, 2010

Your skin is in a constant state of change, and is greatly affected by your environment and lifestyle.  Both external and internal factors can influence your skin.  Here are some of them:

Products that you put on your skin can adversely affect it.   Many creams and chemicals can clog your pores and cause blemishes and oiliness.  Additives such as perfumes and colorings can irritate and cause combination and/or sensitive skin.  They can penetrate the skin and be absorbed, causing much damage.  Allergic reactions occur in response to numerous ingredients in products.  Chemicals and certain plant extracts can be drying, irritating, or cause excessive oiliness.

Stress has a negative effect on all systems of the body.  Continual tension in the facial muscles results in increased and premature wrinkling of the skin.  Acne, eczema and psoriasis are aggravated by nervous tension.  Stress also causes increased flushing, sweating and itching.  Stress causes hormonal fluctuations and increased sebum production.  Unfortunately, when we have a big event and want to look our best, blemishes may appear because of the increased stress level and sebum production.

Smoking causes constriction of blood vessels, resulting in decreased blood flow to the skin cells.  In smokers it’s common to see increased wrinkling around the mouth and a dried out, leathery appearance of the skin. 

Alcohol negatively affects the skin because it over dilates the blood vessels and capillaries, weakening them over time, causing them to burst (red nose and cheeks).  Alcohol also dehydrates the skin by drawing essential water out of the tissues, causing skin to appear dull and dry. 

*The combination of smoking and alcohol accelerates damage to the tissues.  Constant deprivation of water and oxygen to the tissues quickly makes the skin appear lifeless and dull.  It is very difficult for the skin to adjust and repair itself.  The damage done by these habits is hard to reverse or diminish. 
Weather extremes in temperature can affect the condition of the skin, esp. sensitive skin.

Sun Exposure causes premature wrinkling, sagging and loss of collagen.  It has a cumulative effect, resulting in a leathery texture and discoloration with areas of darker and lighter skin.  Normal blood supply to the skin can be disrupted causing broken blood vessels and fine lines.  Excess exposure causes premature photoaging and also early onset of skin cancers and other undesirable skin conditions.  Using safe sunscreen every day is essential. 
Diet  can help or harm your skin.  The health of your skin is not only affected by what you put on it but by how you nourish it from within.  Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats; cut out refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour.  Decide to stop drinking soda and drink water instead. 

Hormonal changes can cause imbalances in the skin with breakouts along the jawline and chin and dry patches in other areas.  Premenstrual changes, pregnancy, and menopause can lead to acne inflammation in women and uneven pigmentation (pregnancy mask). 

Pollutant changes in the environment greatly impact the aging process.  Pollutants in the air from factories, car exhaust, and even secondhand smoke can influence the appearance and overall health of the skin.  While these pollutants affect the surface appearance of the skin, they can also change the health of the underlying cells and tissues, speeding up the aging process.

Remember:  your skin type or condition will not always be constant because of all the previously mentioned factors that can cause changes from day to day;  your skin care program should change with your skin.  That doesn’t mean you need scads of products, it just means you need to understand how your products work and use them appropriately, depending on the condition of your skin.  
See my article on determining skin type.