6 Sneaky Causes of Skin Damage—And How to Prevent Them
Every single day, our complexion acts as a solider charging into battlefield, dodging damage left and right. While, of course, this analogy is dramatized for entertainment purposes (we have to make talking about the science behind skincare fun somehow, right?), the basics are rooted in truth. Our body is almost constantly exposed to various impurities and—often invisible—irritants that sneak their way into our skin, making lasting (and unwelcome) impacts; think sun damaged skin, dark spots, acne scars, premature fine lines, and more.
Before you add another tube of SPF to your cart and call it a day, know that daily sunscreen, while important, isn’t the only skin protection—especially since UV rays aren’t the sole source of skin damage. Read on as we explore the most common types of skin damage and how to prevent them.
CAUSES OF SKIN DAMAGE
Probably the most notorious one on this list, the sun’s UV rays have a reputation for causing all sorts of skin damage. They can be sneaky too, penetrating windows and reflecting off snow, which is why it’s so important to protect your skin from the sun 365 days of the year.
The Result: Increased risk for skin cancer, sunburn, sun spots, premature aging skin
The Remedy: A daily sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. While the choice between chemical and mineral sunscreen is up to you, a broad spectrum SPF is ideal; this means the formula protects against both UVA and UVB rays for 360-degree coverage. Our Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen is broad spectrum, has SPF 35, and touts a peachy hue that helps neutralize any white cast for a natural, skin-like finish.
If you’re donning your blue light glasses as we speak, you’re probably familiar with HEV (high energy visible) light—otherwise known as blue light. It’s emitted by the sun, but also by many electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and television—things we are often glued to on a regular basis.
The Result: Hyperpigmentation, premature aging skin
The Remedy: Carrot root extract. Studies show that this ingredient, found in our Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Moisturizer, can help protect the skin from blue light damage. Bonus points if you layer it with iron ozide and zinc oxide (found in our SPF) to amplify its protective abilities.
We already know that pollution has detrimental effects on the planet, but did you know it can affect our complexion too? (That’s one of the reasons why our Skin Decoder Quiz asks if you reside in a suburb or city, where pollution is more prevalent.) Water pollution affects our cleansing routine, while air pollutants adhere to skin’s surface throughout the day.
The Result: Acne, inflammation, premature aging, hyperpigmentation
The Remedy: For water pollution, consider investing in a filter. If that’s not within your budget, sweep our Baby Cheeks Hydrating Toner across skin after cleansing. Its coconut water and bamboo extract help rebalance skin’s pH and remove hard water residue.
As for air pollution, enrich your skincare routine by loading up on antioxidants. These neutralize the damaging free radicals that are emitted into our atmosphere through pollutants, like cigarette smoke. Some popular antioxidants include vitamin E, bearberry extract, blue tansy, and vitamin C. Or, get a healthy dose by applying 2-3 drops of our Sunday Morning Antioxidant Oil-Serum daily.
Exfoliation can do wonders for clogged pores, rough texture, and dull skin. But unfortunately, there is such a thing as overdoing it. Applying too many exfoliants (and other active ingredients like retinol) too often can cause a damaged skin barrier, worsening skin concerns instead of treating them.
The Result: Dryness, flaky skin, irritation, increased sensitivity, redness
The Remedy: Any exfoliant, but limit use to 1-3x per week. If you prefer physical exfoliation, consider our Day Maker Microcrystal Exfoliator, which is gentle enough for sensitive and acne-prone skin. For fans of acids, we recommend incorporating Doctor’s Visit Instant Resurfacing Mask into your routine once per week, max. Its pro-grade formula is great for delivering immediate results, but can be too intensive if overused.
As tempting as it is to squeeze that blackhead (or pick at the aftermath), popping pimples has the potential to damage the skin in more ways than one.
The Result: Breakouts, dark spots, acne scars
The Remedy: A spot treatment. Nip temptation (and that pimple) in the bud by covering whiteheads and blackheads with a targeted acne solution. Our Game Over Acne Drying Treatment uses a blend of clays to dry out pus and impurities, unclogging pores and reducing the pimple’s appearance overnight.
PRODUCTS WITH AN UNBALANCED PH
Our skin functions best when its pH hovers around 5. Applying products—particularly cleansers—that are too basic or acidic can throw off skin’s pH balance, damaging the moisture barrier and allowing impurities to seep in.
The Result: Dryness, flaky skin, increased sensitivity, redness, premature aging skin, acne
The Remedy: A soap-free, pH-balanced cleanser (soap is very basic, with a pH of 8). All skin types can reach for our Wash It Out Gel Cleanser, which is infused with barrier-repairing ceramides. If you have dry skin, the Gentle Cycle Milky Cleanser can wash away impurities while rebalancing skin’s pH and restoring moisture.
Shop products for preventing and repairing skin damage below.