Climate change is a bummer. In addition to melting the polar ice caps and diminishing our coffee supply, did you know it also messes with your skin? There are things you can do to combat these harmful skin effects, but first you need to know what you’re dealing with.
Higher Risk of Skin Cancer
This one is definitely the scariest effect: Climate change creates a higher risk of skin cancer. Remember when you were a kid, and your science teacher always talked about the hole in the ozone layer? Well, that hole is still there. It was mainly caused by our frequent use of harmful chemicals in things like refrigerators and hairspray until the 1980s. Climate change isn’t directly responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer, but the rise in temperature from climate change increases ozone loss.
This decrease in ozone is bad news for our skin. In a perfect system, the sun shines UV rays unto earth, and the ozone layer acts as a filter to remove the harmful rays that cause skin cancer. But, as our ozone layer has decreased, it has become way less effective at blocking out the cancer causing rays. That means that even if we spent the same amount of time as we used to in the sun, the sun's rays are still more dangerous. And, unfortunately, as climate change increases the amount of warmer days, we actually spend a lot more time in this more dangerous sun.
The good news- we have some, we swear!- is that for the first time since the 1970s, the ozone layer is actually getting bigger again. Thanks to an international commitment in the 1980s to phase our the ozone depleting chemicals, we're seeing the first positive effects. But even if we continue on this positive path, we won't return to our pre-1970s ozone levels until around 2070.
Blackheads. Like, Major Blackheads
On a list of scary things, blackheads are way below skin cancer. But it doesn’t change the fact that you don't want them, and climate change increases their likelihood and severity.
Blackheads are caused by clogged pores, as a result of dirt and oil. Climate change is a result of air pollution, which means a lot more dirt in the atmosphere. If you live in any major city, you probably already deal with more buildup than you would if you lived somewhere more rural, simply because the air pollution is so much worse. But air has a funny way of moving around, which means that air pollution won’t just stay in the places that caused it. It makes its way all over the globe.
Skin Irritation From All Sides
As we're already seeing, climate change leads to erratic and dramatic weather patterns. Some regions of the planet are dealing with increased and more severe monsoons, tsunamis, hurricanes, and humidity, while other places are experiencing dangerously high temperatures, dryness, and drought. Skin is not meant to live in extremes. Happy skin lives in a just right climate- air that's too dry can lead to eczema, wrinkles, and rashes, and air that's too humid can lead to fungal infections and some pretty scary skin diseases.
Take Up the Skincare Cause
But don't lose hope! There are plenty of things you can do to help your skin in spite of our changing climate. For one thing, whenever possible, try to control your home and office environment to keep your skin happy and balanced. That means that if it's too dry, you should invest in a humidifier, and if it's too humid, you should get yourself a dehumidifier and an air conditioner.
No matter where you live, you should be washing your face with a gently exfoliating, low dose glycolic acid cleanser at least once a day, and if you live somewhere with intense air pollution- so any major city- get yourself a Clarifying Face Mask to unclog pores once or twice a week.
Wear sunscreen whenever you're going to be outside for more than 30 minutes while the sun is out. It doesn't matter if you don't have a family history of skin cancer- since there is less ozone protection than there used to be, there are more harmful rays than ever before.
And if you're feeling extra motivated, you can get involved in fighting the culprit of all this bad skin news: climate change. Your skin will thank you, and so will the planet.