Friday, 21 July 2017

Skincare and the City

After 20 years of being a country girl, moving to the city last year meant I was in for a lot of changes. Swapping the Hunters for heels was easy but what I didn't consider was the changes I would have to make in my skin regime and the impact that a high flying, city life would have.

Hard water

I'll be honest, checking the water wasn't the first thing I thought of when apartment hunting (a rookie mistake that I think most of us can hold our hands up to). In fact, it wasn't until I moved to the city that I knew we had different water areas. Hard, soft who cares? It seems I do. As an out and proud 3 litre drinker, I now realise that water does taste different and it's all down to your postcode. It seems I moved from a hard water area to a very hard water area.Soft water will feel simply softer to the touch, it can leave your hair in a better condition and you may find your skin benefits from a reduction in dryness or outbreaks. The difference is down to the existence (or lack) of minerals in the water. Hard water contains calcium and magnesium, which are picked up as the water filters through rocks before entering our water system. Soft water, on the other hand, does not contain these chemicals.There are many other benefits of soft water including benefits to the home, health and cost savings. The truth is, there are very few areas of soft water so don't go packing your bags just yet. Let's be honest, it's cheaper to invest in a good conditioner than it is to move home. However, if you are sensitive to change and notice the difference in your drinking water it may be a good idea to buy a water filter. Bottled mineral water can be expensive but home filters on the other hand are an inexpensive way to stay hydrated.

Pollution

I try to be as green as anyone where possible; I recycle my bottles and I even have a drawer dedicated to my plastic carrier bags (let's be honest, I can't afford the daily 5p charges). But pollution is a real problem and it only continues to get worse. How much are you aware of what pollution does to your skin?When that pollution comes into contact with your skin, it doesn't just sit on the surface. The tiny particles can be 20 times smaller than your pores, allowing them to infiltrate deeper layers of the epidermis. This can lead to inflammation and dehydration but also accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin. These factors impair the skin's barrier function, which is required for optimum skin health. FYI - pollution can cause uneven skin tone, premature ageing and even skin cancer.Before you buy that one-way ticket to Fiji, remember that pollution on the skin can be prevented. Following a skincare regime rich in antioxidants is key to protecting against free radical damage such as wind, rain, pollution and UV light.

Blue light

I don't think this one is subject to city living alone but it definitely deserves a place on our list. There is endless research on the damaging effects UV light can have on our skin and health. This focus has encouraged researchers to delve into the problems other light forms could be having on our skin.We know our phones are bad for us, not only are they full of germs (apparently the average smart phone contains more bacteria than your toilet seat) but they constantly emit blue light which may lead to infrared light emission. Although the jury is still out on blue light and pigmentation problems, there are studies that indicate screen time could be accelerating the ageing process. In fact, dermatologist to the stars Dr Howard Murad recommends wearing sunscreen before logging on could help protect you. His new City Skin product range is designed to tackle the struggles of city living, including blue light.

Low humidity

Humidity means the measurable average of water in the atmosphere. Cities tend to have low humidity levels because as a general rule they have hotter temperatures throughout the year. Most of us are familiar with the effects of high humidity when on our summer holidays “ think Monica and the 'Diana Ross' hair do from Friends. The feeling of sweating silly before breakfast all comes down to the heavy moisture levels in the air. Low humidity speeds up the drying out effect. This means the drier the air, the faster the water in your skin cells evaporates, and therefore the drier your skin gets.If you think you're living in a particularly low humidity area it may be time to invest in a humidifier. This might sound extreme but humidifiers are popular in the States and can work wonders for cracked lips, dry sinuses and respiratory problems.

Fast food

A huge part of our skin health relies on a good diet full of nutrition and low in trans fats and sugars. Unfortunately, it's a little harder to eat organic when the closest thing to a farm is my shriveled up cress plant on the windowsill.No postcode is an excuse for eating bad. However, when there is a fast food chain on every corner and a man on a bike willing to deliver your naughty sins right to your front door via a handy app on your phone, it's easy to see why urban residents can slip into poor habits.Every city, no matter how big or small, will have a weekly food market. This is the best (and cheapest) way to get your greens. Vegan restaurants, organic eateries and juice bars are another popular city staple but often come with a hefty price tag. Save the pennies by investing in a juicer and doing it yourself.

Sleepless nights

It's a fact that the best thing for our skin is sleep. It's at night when our skin heals and repairs the damage we've inflicted the day before. After years of arguing with my parents about the benefits of my Sunday morning lie-in, it seems now that I'm a fully-fledged adult they are willing to listen. Unfortunately adulthood limits our amount of shut eye and lie-ins become a distant memory.Noise pollution is another hard lesson learned from living on the third floor of a five floor apartment block. On average, experts recommend eight hours sleep a night. The real amount of sleep you need varies from person to person. Some people function like a social butterfly on a mere six hours rest, while others resemble something out of zombie movie unless they hit double figures. If street lighting is a problem, try blackout blinds to keep as much light out as possible and ear plugs are essential if you live close to a busy road or airport.

Stress

Now this one isn't an exact science. I'm not for one minute suggesting that city workers are harder workers, but in my case I now work longer hours and therefore statistically I am at risk of higher stress levels. My previous stress busting activities, like evening walks in the countryside, are no longer an option. The lack of greenery in cities is an issue as studies show that being around nature reduces stress and negativity. In fact, a 90-minute walk can cut anxiety levels by half. In the same study, walks in urban areas had little to no impact on stress levels and in some cases actually increased anxiety (any excuse to take a black cab).All this being said, do I regret making my move? Not one bit. Why? Because nothing can compare to the excitement that comes from been a small girl in a big cityWritten for you by: Emily, Face the Future

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