Faced with the existential threat of climate crisis, coronavirus on the rise, skincare might not seem like a priority. True, it’s not up there with, say, avoiding a Mad Max-style drought dystopia — but dermatologists are increasingly concerned about how climate change will affect our skin. Misha Rosenbach, MD, Dermatology Residency Program Director at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology’s Expert Resource Group focusing on climate change, says, “We can focus on literally every organ and find things that can be attributable to climate change.” (And you know what your biggest organ is, don’t you?)
Here’s a rundown of what to expect — and how to adapt — when it comes to your skin.
Weird weather patterns disrupt skin moisture levels
Know how your skin acts up if you fly from balmy Palma de Mallorca to frigid Norway ? Get ready for more of that. While the planet is getting hotter overall, that doesn’t mean that every day will be warmer. Inconsistent, erratic weather (think: a stretch of 30 days of 21-degree in London in December) means wildly varying levels of moisture content in skin. To safeguard against the yo-yo effect, consider slathering on hyaluronic acid, a lightweight ingredient that locks moisture into skin seamlessly whether it’s cold, hot, raining, snowing… or it’s all of those things happening in one week.
Higher rates of UV exposure intensify photo-ageing
We know that warm days are happening sooner in the year and lasting later into the year. Just from the simple fact of there being more ‘nice’ days — although there are also more unbearable days — people are outside more. The issue is not just that our skin is exposed to more ultraviolet light, but that there’s some evidence that due to higher temperatures and a weakened ozone layer, some wavelengths of light may actually penetrate more deeply.
All of this leads to a greater likelihood of photo-ageing and higher rates of skin cancer. Currently, one in five Europeans develop some form of skin cancer by age 70, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Due to climate change, the World Health Organization estimates that by 2050, the U.S. population will see a 10% increase in skin cancer incidence and melanoma skin cancer incidence rates increased by 134% since the early 1990s in the UK. It is on the rise.
The usual advice applies: Avoid prolonged sun exposure, wear hats and long sleeves, and apply (and reapply!!!) sunscreen with SPF 30. Lately, mineral sunscreen is having its moment — in part because they’re kinder to the environment and humans. You may have heard that Hawai’i is banning sunscreens made with two chemical ingredients, oxybenzone and octinoxate, due to the damage they cause to coral reefs. And there’s a growing amount of concern that these same ingredients, which are absorbed into the bloodstream, may disrupt the human endocrine system. Mineral formulas made with non-nano zinc oxide, however, provide broad-spectrum protection for skin and are ocean-friendly. We will write more about it as many of you approached us why we are not offering a SPF product yet.
Pollution causes wrinkles (plus spots and irritation…)
The more CO2 in the air, the dirtier it is, and polluted air is no friend to skin. A recent study of six air pollutants found that they generated free radicals, triggered inflammation, weakened the skin barrier, and interfered with your skin’s microflora. Another study found that ambient pollution was associated with premature ageing in the form of more wrinkles and pigmented spots.
There’s also a growing body of evidence suggesting a direct link between air pol