Home Sweet Home – Is Your Home a Skin-Friendly Environment?
When we think about how our environment affects our skin, our home might not be the first thing that springs to mind. But it probably should. After all, it’s the place where we spend the majority of our time. It’s where we sleep, eat, relax, play, learn, and – yes – do all those essential chores (like washing our clothes) that help us manage the rest of our day-to-day lives.
So, with that in mind, here’s a simple motto to remember: ‘Healthy home. Healthy skin.’
Let’s break it down, room by room.
- The Bathroom: Our bathroom serves as an obvious starting point, for the simple reason that it’s where we keep most of the personal care products that we use on our skin. That includes not only our skincare and makeup, but other products like shampoo, soap, medicines, sunscreen, etc.
As far as our skin is concerned, the bathroom is the very epicentre of the universe; a place of renewal, or – if we get things wrong – a place where healthy skin comes to die.
Given a choice between these outcomes, we’re pretty sure most of you will favour Option 1 - the bathroom as a place of renewal! If that’s the case, then do your best to avoid products filled with synthetic chemicals and harsh surfactants. Aim to stock your shelves with gentle and natural personal care products instead, all the while taking the time to cherish the person in the mirror. Do that, and your bathroom will quickly become the room your skin most looks forward to visiting.
- The Kitchen: If you’re in the market for healthy, glowing skin, then what you stock in the kitchen is every bit as important as what you keep in the bathroom. That’s because food is not only the source of life, it’s the source of great skin as well!
There’s so much to be said about the correlation between our diet and our skin (and we’ve written extensively about this very thing), but here’s a basic list of foods you should keep in your kitchen, if you want to turn it into a skincare haven:
- Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants and vitamins that promote skin health. Favourites include berries, leafy greens, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and carrots.
- Healthy fats: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds, and monounsaturated fats found in avocados and olive oil help keep our skin moisturized and supple.
- Lean proteins: Consuming lean proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish can help maintain healthy skin cells.
- Whole grains: Complex carbohydrates found in whole grains like brown rice and quinoa may help reduce inflammation in the body and prevent wrinkles.
- Green tea: Green tea is rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and help protect against damage caused by UV rays.
- Low-sugar foods: Eating a low-sugar diet can help prevent inflammation and skin damage.
- Filtered drinking water: For the sake of your skin and your general health, it’s worth investing in a reverse osmosis filter system, if you can. Filtering helps remove impurities and chemicals from our water, as well as softening it, which is good news for our skin, as well as our general health!
- The Laundry: It’s super-easy to overlook the laundry when it comes to the health and condition of our skin, but we really shouldn’t, not when we use the kind of commercial, scented washing powders, liquids, softeners, and sprays that most of us do. Unfortunately, most of these products contain proprietary signature fragrances, comprised of hundreds of toxic chemicals. They’re formulated to permeate cloth fibres and that means they’re in our clothes, towels, sheets and even in the walls of our homes. We’re not only breathing them in continuously, they’re in constant contact with our skin. And, as recent studies have shown, that’s bad news, given that the absorption rate for fragrance ingredients is nearly 100%. To avoid bathing in these fragrances 24/7 and give our skin and bodies the chance to rest and replenish, we might all benefit from an audit of our laundry, throwing out toxic products and replacing them with others that are made from wholly natural ingredients, or which are, at the very least, fragrance free!
- The Lounge and Bedroom: Our lounge and our bedroom are the rooms where we spend the majority of our time. They’re the places where we’re most relaxed and where we often indulge in some ‘me’ time. Whilst this can be good for our soul, it’s not always good for our skin…
- Air Conditioners: When we’re relaxing or trying to get to sleep, many of us turn the air-conditioning on, to ensure the temperature’s exactly as we want it, for maximum comfort. Unfortunately, this can have consequences for our skin, especially if we keep the air-conditioning running on a semi-permanent basis. That’s because air conditioners remove moisture from the air, which can make the air very dry. This can lead to dehydration of the skin, as well as cause itching, cracking, and flaking. In addition, air conditioners often blow cold air directly onto the skin, which can cause further dryness and irritation.
If you’re regularly exposed to air-conditioning (and this applies every bit as much to your work environment as your home), and you experience dry skin, then a rich, hydrating natural moisturizer should be at the very top of your skincare list!
On a side note, air humidifiers can have completely the opposite effect to air conditioners, helping prevent dry skin by keeping the skin hydrated. They can be especially beneficial in dry climates or during the winter months when the air becomes dry.
- Blue Light: These days, when we’re relaxing in the lounge or in our bedroom, it’s pretty much a given we’ll have the television on, or that we’ll spend our time surfing the net on our phone, laptop, or tablet. It can be a lot of fun, but it also exposes us to blue light, which – as studies are increasingly showing – is no great thing for our skin.
Blue light is a type of light that is emitted by electronic devices and LED lights, as well as natural sunlight. It has a short wavelength and high energy that allows it to penetrate even deeper into the skin than ultraviolet radiation (UV) rays.
Exposure to blue light can affect our skin in several ways. Firstly, it can disrupt the skin's natural circadian rhythm, which regulates the production of hormones such as cortisol and melatonin, disrupting our sleep and causing stress. This can lead to skin damage, premature aging, and inflammation.
Secondly, blue light can cause oxidative damage to the skin's cells, leading to the formation of free radicals that damage collagen and elastin fibres in the skin, leading to loss of firmness, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Lastly, studies have also shown that blue light can worsen hyperpigmentation, making dark spots and discoloration more visible on the skin.
In other words, blue light can leave our skin feeling kind of… blue.
The good news is, we can help protect ourselves against its worst effects by –
- Using natural skincare products rich in antioxidants. Yep, this is becoming quite the common theme when it comes to protecting our skin against environmental stressors, but that’s because antioxidants are really good at what they do (like really, really good!).
- Wear tinted makeup (like our replenishing Primp N’ Prime, Tinted Moisturizer and Primer) to help create a further barrier between your skin and blue light.
- Shield your skin from blue light by using a screen protector on your devices.
- Eat an antioxidant-rich diet.
And there you have it! Our environment truly does have a massive impact on the health of our skin, and – if we’re to age gracefully, with the soft, glowing skin we all aspire to – it’s something we must pay attention to, every bit as much as our innate skin type.