How The Environment Really Affects Your Skin

by Stephanie Montes

Living in a city certainly has its pros (amazing food, rich cultural scene, endless events), as well as its cons—traffic and smog are among our least favorites. But have you ever wondered if these annoying environmental factors are also having an effect on your skin? We tapped Allison Marks, Spa Director of the LA-based Arcona, to find out how our skin is affected by where we live and what we can do to keep it looking radiant. You know what they say: It’s all about “location, location, location!”

Damage Control

Photo: Vanessa Jackman

Issue: Smog

"Air pollution breaks down collagen and elastin in skin. When this happens, we begin to see sagging, fine lines and wrinkles. The best way to combat and prevent free-radical attack is to topically apply vitamin C and E, as well as to ingest a wide range of organic fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants and minerals."

Issue: Construction Zones

"Living or working near a construction site can absolutely wreak havoc on the skin. Breathing in environmental chemicals disrupts the body’s natural hormone balance, which causes breakouts. Avoid using makeup or skincare products that further introduce toxic ingredients to the body like parabens, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances and dyes. I also recommend double cleansing: once to remove makeup, sunscreen, oil and pollution debris, and a second time to actually reach the skin."

Issue: Air-Conditioned Office

"Working in an enclosed, air-conditioned environment can cause dehydration. Keep a hyaluronic acid serum and a rose-water spray at your desk to hydrate skin throughout the day. I love how it also freshens up my makeup while it hydrates."

Issue: Public Gyms

"Exercise is excellent for assisting the body’s own purification process (which means better-looking skin), but public gyms are filled with germs. Touching the equipment and then touching your face can cause a breakout. Always wash hands and cleanse your face as soon as you can after a workout. I carry cleansing pads in my gym bag because they clean, tone and hydrate all in one step."

Issue: Cigarette Smoke

"Other environmental contributory factors include second-hand cigarette smoke, pesticides in food and chemicals in plastic water bottles. Our body is equipped with its own detoxification system, but the amount we encounter can sometimes be too high. I use charcoal sticks in my reusable glass water bottle to purify from the inside out."