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7 lifestyle factors that affect your skin
Your skin health largely reflects your lifestyle. Everything you put in your body, from carrots to tobacco smoke, affects your skin. This is why certain lifestyle habits can result in unhealthy and therefore aged skin. Our lifestyle is assumed to account for 75% of our skin status, while only 25% is in our genes. Because of the huge impact your lifestyle has on your skin, we've put together a scientific guide that will hopefully help you create positive lifestyle habits that benefit your skin.


Several skin diseases, such as vitiligo, psoriasis and eczema, are aggravated by stress. In studies done to investigate how stress affects the skin, it has been observed that people suffering from acute stress have less moisture in their skin. People going through divorce and college students with exam stress have also shown skin that repairs more slowly - namely negative stress causes a defect in barrier function. Stress is not good for the brain, heart or stomach, and the skin is no exception to other human organs.

Mindfulness is often recommended as a suitable remedy for stress. There are studies done on the effects it can have on the skin and one study actually shows that mindfulness can improve wound healing. In the current study, small wounds were made in the arms of the participants, after which they were divided into two groups. Half received mindfulness therapy for eight weeks and showed better wound healing than those who did not receive the therapy. Some researchers go so far as to see mindfulness as a therapy for patients with everything from acne to psoriasis and vitiligo. However, it is still a long way from being able to scientifically prove that the positive effects of mindfulness can be used to treat an autoimmune disease such as psoriasis.


Is exercise good for our skin? In Canada, skin researchers gathered about 30 volunteers of both sexes, between the ages of 20 and 84, to study the effects of exercise. About half of the participants were physically active and spent at least three hours of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week, while the rest were inactive and spent less than an hour a week exercising. Because the researchers wanted to look at skin that hadn't been exposed to too much sun, they chose to take samples from the volunteers' buttocks. Samples from all participants were examined under a microscope and showed that both men and women over 40, who belonged to the group who exercised frequently, were found to have noticeably thinner and healthier skin in the outermost layer, while both the epidermis (first layer) and dermis (second layer ) was thicker and denser.


Sleep is the key to healthy skin! Why? The hormone that makes our skin healthier thanks to sleep is melatonin. Melatonin is a multifaceted hormone - but above all it is an effective sleep hormone. It makes us tired and helps us fall asleep more easily. It also acts as an antioxidant and is one of the factors that counteract aging. Melatonin levels rise in the evening when darkness falls and while we sleep, melatonin is busy repairing damage to our skin, such as sun damage. The hormone also improves our immune system. People who sleep too little, or who sleep in too bright rooms, often show a lack of melatonin in the blood. This condition can lead to apathy, fatigue or even depression. Melatonin is sold in some markets in skin creams and promises an anti-aging effect. But few clinical studies show that it has any such impact.

In contrast, in a small Italian study done on just over 20 women over the age of 55, a melatonin cream was applied to one side of each participant's face for three months. The skin on the melatonin side was actually found to be better hydrated, had fewer wrinkles and was both firmer and smoother.


Have you ever heard someone say that dry skin comes from not drinking enough water? We regret to inform you that the statement is not true. That water keeps the skin hydrated and youthful is nothing more than a long-lived myth.

Until 2018, there were 216 conference articles and 23 published studies on the effect of water on the skin. What can be established is that if you are severely dehydrated, the hydration of the skin is affected if you drink water - but only under these specific circumstances. Obviously, being dehydrated to this degree is downright dangerous, and fortunately, it's rare. A possible exception is elderly and vulnerable people who have a higher risk of becoming severely dehydrated. But "forgetting to drink enough" during the day will definitely not lead to dehydration. The daily water intake of one to two liters, which is often recommended, is sufficient. You get half of this amount from the food you eat, so it's enough to drink about a liter of water per day.


Can blue light from screens really speed up our aging? There are various different products on the market today that claim to protect against blue screen light. However, there is no evidence that it would cause wrinkles. What has been observed, however, is that blue light can cause hyperpigmentation in people with darker skin. It has also been shown to break down the important carotenoids in the skin.

But can you protect yourself by using regular sunscreen? Yes, studies have shown that physical sunscreens actually provide some protection against blue light. However, we must look at this realistically. Compare how your skin feels if you spend all day in the sun with how it feels after the same amount of time in front of a computer. The difference in strength and effect is obvious. Considering that blue light is also said to damage the eyes, it is better to get a light filter for your computer, tablet and mobile than to try to protect your skin by applying any type of sunscreen product. That being said, not enough studies have yet been done on how blue light affects the skin.


Today we know that smoking accelerates skin aging and also forms free radicals and inflammation in the skin. In clinical studies, it has been seen that wrinkles appear prematurely if you smoke a lot. You might think that these wrinkles form mainly around the mouth and on the face, where you have sensitive skin, but it has been found that smokers also develop wrinkles on the arms. Smoking leads to the development of elastosis, which means that the elastin fibers in the skin lose their elasticity. The skin becomes wrinkled, yellowish and less firm. Male smokers develop both elastosis and telangiectasia (visible blood vessels near the surface of the skin, also known as spider veins). Female smokers are not affected to the same extent by telangiectasia.


There is a lot of research going on about how exhaust gases and pollution affect the skin. The results leave no doubt about the negative impact. The World Health Organization, WHO, published a report in 2016 that stated that over three million people die from air pollution each year, making air pollution the world's number one environmental health risk. Airborne particles are a major component of pollution, and there is increasing evidence that they adversely affect human skin. They increase inflammation and enzyme activity in the skin and thus reduce the amount of collagen and elastin in the skin.

One of the world's largest cosmetics companies has invested heavily in air pollution research, especially in China because the measured pollution there is more extensive. The skin status of people living in areas with high levels of pollution has been compared to the skin of people from areas with cleaner air. People living in the polluted areas have more wrinkles, more pigmentation spots and drier skin than people from the countryside.