Facing the elements

26th October, 2016
Vanessa Papas

Nothing beats feeling the warmth of the sun, chasing the wind and smelling the rain. While your mood can be positively affected by the joys of summer, environmental elements can negatively affect your skin, causing damage, dryness, and premature ageing.

“Our skin is the largest of the body’s organs and has to do battle constantly to stay strong and fight the damaging forces that surround it. As the barrier between the body and the environment, it is subjected to a lot of abuse,” says Marielet Janse van Rensburg, Dis‑Chem National Skin Strategy Salon Manager.

The Sun And Ultra Violet Rays

Sun lovers will confess that nothing beats being outdoors, soaking up the rays in pursuit of a glowing complexion. Sadly, our love affair isn’t a two-way street.

Ultraviolet lightfrom the sun breaks down collagen and damages the fibres in the skin, resulting in the skin sagging, stretching and losing its ability to bounce back into shape.

UV light also depresses the immune system, which may explain why some people infected with the cold sore virus are more likely to have an eruption after sunbathing.

A sunburn, or even a mild tan,indicates that your skin has been damaged. Not only is the sun responsible for premature ageing, but in extreme cases, over-exposure to the sun’s rays can lead to skin cancer,” says Marielet.

Cold, Hot, Dry, Windy And Wet Weather

Climate can impact your skin. Your skin loses more than 25%of its ability to hold moisture in winter, resulting in flaking, cracking, irritation and inflammation. When the chill sets in, most of us rush indoors and start cranking up the central heating, or worse, hover by the fireplace, which just increases skin dryness. Windy weather can also beat down on your skin and make it look and feel parched. A rise in the temperature can be just as detrimental – whether you’re indoors or outdoors.

“Air conditioners and fans in the summer have a dehydrating effect on the skin, because they speed up the evaporation process from the surface of the body. The skin begins to lose its lustre and radiance. Fine leathery lines begin to develop and the skin may become flaky,” explains Marielet.

“Once outside, there is the heat to consider, which opens up the pores on the skin. This in turn allows for increased oil secretionand thus oily skin. As a consequence, the stale oil on the skin combined with environmental dust and other pollutants can lead to blocked pores, resulting in blackheads and pimples.”

Sorry to rain on your parade, but too much water on your skin isn’t healthy for it either. Chlorinated water can strip skin of its natural moisture, so when having poolside fun, rinse yourself off after getting out of the pool, and don’t forget to moisturise!


While we may not all live in an area known for smog, that doesn’t mean the air we’re exposed to is squeaky clean. Due to air pollution, the ozone quickly strips vitamin E(which indulges a healthy skin) from that topmost layer of the skin. This may cause the skin to be congested with impurities and, as a result, suffer from blemishes.

Stopping The Damage

Dis-Chem’s Skin Strategy Beauty Salons offer both Laser and Biomagnetic Microdermabrasiontreatments to combat (and help reverse) environmental skin damage. Laser treatment is ideal for the maintenance of radiant healthy skin, as it improves blood circulation and stimulates the production of collagen and elastin fibres in the skin. Because of the antibacterial characteristics, laser treatment is also very effective in the treatment of acne.

Where There’s Smoke       

Smoking depletes the collagen in your skin. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4 000 toxins, many of which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and are taken by the blood into the skin’s structure. Smoking also causes the blood vessels in the top layers of the skin to constrict, so thickening and reducing the oxygen levels in the blood. This also reduces the levels of collagen in the skin. Aside from premature ageing, smoking is also responsible for increased 
dryness of facial skin.

Good to know.
A study published in the January 2009 issue of American Journal of Epidemiology suggests a link between air pollution and skin rashes. French researchers found that when air pollution levels in urban areas are higher, more individuals see doctors for complaints of skin rashes related to atopic dermatitis and eczema.