Sustainable Skin During Global warming
For some years now the topic of Global warming has been a heated discussion amongst scientists and researchers. Global warming can be defined as an increase in the earth's average atmospheric temperature that causes corresponding changes in climate and that may result from the greenhouse effect. It is indicated that the global surface temperatures are likely to increase by 1.1 – 6.4 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2100.
To regulate the temperature of the earth, we refer to the natural Greenhouse Effect. Energy radiated by the sun converts to heat when it reaches the earth. Some heat is reflected back through the atmosphere, while some heat is absorbed by atmospheric gases and radiated back to the earth. Without the natural greenhouse effect, temperatures would be at least 30 degree Celsius cooler.
Furthermore heat will be trapped in water vapour, CO2 and other gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons and ozone. Some of these gases occur naturally and some come from human activity.
As humans, we take part in activities such as industrialisation, deforestation, producing pollution from petrol-guzzling cars and inefficient energy consumption. All this enhances the Greenhouse effect. We are releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere trapping more heat. We are pouring more CO2 into the atmosphere than plants and oceans can absorb resulting in Global Warming.
One of the most immediate and obvious effects of global warming is the increase in temperature. As skin care experts we understand that overexposure to heat and UV can cause an inflammatory response creating uneven pigmentation and ageing skin. Researchers have found that further damage in the skin can occur through infrared radiation. Infrared light is all around us, every time we feel the heat of the sun on our skin, the warmth of a camp fire, warmth of the sidewalk, a heater, hairdryers, tanning booths, night cameras, just to name a few, we are experiencing thermal infrared light.
Exposing our skin to extreme weather temperatures or thermal infrared will cause cellular stress leading to the cell membrane lipids minimising providing insufficient protection to the cell. Cytoplasm will diminish affecting how the cell will function and providing less support for other structures within the cell. The cells metabolism will slow down as the mitochondrion of the cell is damaged and in a worst case scenario the cell nucleus will be denatured causing cell senescence.
In order to achieve sustainable skin during global warming we need to ensure we apply sunscreen with adequate UV protection. UVB is the most harmful radiation that directly affects the skin causing pigmentation disorders and increased risk of skin cancer. Antioxidants will reduce and neutralise the effects of free radicals. Burning of fossil fuels is one of the major polluting processes contributing to climate change. This man-made pollution contributes to a generation of carcinogenic chemistry of free radicals.
Providing the skin with immune protecting ingredients in product formulations will enhance the function and ability of the Langerhans cells to decrease UV radiation and within the skin.
Internally the skins natural defence system will provide further protection against change. The skins natural defence system consists of Glutathione and Heat shock proteins.
Glutathione consisting of a combination of 3 amino acids, Glutamate, L-Cysteine and Glycine and is present in the epidermis and dermis. Glutathione play a vital role in each cell assisting to detoxify the skin from free radicals and strengthen the cell membranes. With age and exposure to UV Glutathione will diminish.
Heat shock proteins are synthesised when cells are exposed to a sudden increase in surrounding temperature. Skin temperature may fluctuate by more than 20 Celsius degrees causing damage to the cell structures and impairing cell functioning. These proteins will help the cells to repair and recover any damaged caused by environmental stressors or heat and return the cell to its original physiological status while protecting the cell nucleus.
As therapists we need to consider a new treatment approach to address our client’s skin conditions by strengthening and preserving their skin against the ever changing environment. We can make a difference by choosing environmentally friendly skin care using ingredients from sustainable sources, recycle our skin care packing and educate our clients about temperature changes.
Written by Nadine Vorster September 2015