Fresh Air & Clear Skin

Within the past decade or so, researchers have realized that the sedentary and prominently indoor lifestyle that humans have evolved into is detrimental to our health and well-being. More and more people are realizing that to maintain a healthy body weight, mindset and appearance, the indoor and sedentary lifestyle must change.

During this process, some broad statements have been made about the connection between achieving clear, healthy skin and being outside, using 'natural' skin practices and the dangers of pollution. It is sometimes hard to distinguish the truth from advertisement and fact from fiction, so we've asked a dermatologist to set the story straight.

If I spend more time outside with good sun protection, will it help my skin?

Simply "being outside" will not improve the skin's health or appearance. While being outside may be better for your skin than working inside a polluted, dirty indoor environment, being out in the 'wilderness' does not miraculously cure acne or wrinkles.

Can exercise help my skin?

In the past decade, research has been published to show a correlation between young people who are active versus those who are not and healthy skin. Although the research is still in its early stages, it is quite possible that exercising does more than sculpt your body.

When exercising outside, make sure to put on skin protection. A recent publication has further supported the belief that a proper sunscreen will provide, not only long term future protection from photo-aging (i.e. wrinkling) but will also ensure that the wearer ends up with a more youthful skin.

What does salt water do for your skin that fresh water can't?

The only research that has been done concerning salt's effect on the skin is in the relation to Dead Sea treatments and psoriasis. The Dead Sea has been shown to provide long-standing relief for psoriasis patients who spent approximately 2 weeks to a month, depending on the severity of the psoriasis.

In terms of clearing up skin, no scientific research has been published, but this doesn't preclude its possible benefits. Due to salt's dehydrating properties, and its ability to draw out toxins by drying up and killing infectious cells, salt water may work as a sort of cleanser. It isn't likely, however, that salt water will clear conditions like acne.

How does pollution affect my skin?

If the question had of been asked ten years ago, dermatologists would not have known of any evidence that showed a connection between healthy skin and pollution. Its effect on the skin is a relatively recent discovery in which we now know that environmental pollution (mainly carbon particles) has a deleterious effect on the skin. This is similar to the measurable and negative effect that cigarette smoke has on skin complexion.

There isn't unfortunately much you can do to avoid its negative impact since you can't hide from it. While some moisturizers may be mildly beneficial, the impractical washing of the face would be most likely to be the most beneficial combatant of pollution's negative effect on the skin.

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Dr. Stuart Maddin (Clinical Professor Emeritus, Department of Dermatology, University of British Columbia) is a well-known Canadian dermatologist who has been educating, practicing and researching in the field of dermatology for the past 65 years.

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