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5 key skin damaging factors

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

What is skin damage and how to prevent it?

Skin damage is generally caused by Intrinsic and Extrinsic ageing.

Intrinsic ageing is the biological ageing of our body. It is unpreventable and occurs to all your body part including skin and organs.

Extrinsic ageing is caused by external factors. We will be focusing on these factors in this blog and look at ways on how we can delay extrinsic ageing.

damaging effects of the sun on skin. 5 key skin damaging factors

Can you reverse skin ageing?

Ageing on the skin surface is a reflection of our DNA cellular damage. To reverse skin ageing, these DNA cellular damages would need to be repaired and protected from future damages. At the moment, there is no scientific way to reverse ageing.

However, there have been many pieces of research on how we can reverse ageing and this may be available in the future. There is one particular Harvard research I would like to share. Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+), naturally occurring molecule in our body) helps lessen the damage from oxidisation but as we age NAD+ level declines. In this study, Harvard scientist increased the NAD+ level of older mice to a level of younger mice. In doing so, they found that damaged cells were repaired and future damages were prevented. Thus, reversing signs of ageing.

To read more:

Until age reversal pill is made available, the best thing you can do is prevention.

What are the 5 key contributing factors to skin damages?

  1. Sun exposure

  2. Free radicals

  3. Smoking

  4. Lack of sleep and stressful lifestyle

  5. Poor nutrition

Sun exposure

Sun exposure is probably the number 1 cause to skin ageing. We all look forward to sunny weather especially after a long winter. While we are enjoying the warm weather, we need to be diligent in protecting our skin. UV rays are the main creator of free radicals in our skin.

Types of UV rays and its damaging effects

UV rays and effects on skin

What are free radicals and the damaging effects?

Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells, cause illness and ageing.

Atoms are surrounded by electrons that circle the atom in layers called shells. Each shell needs to be filled by a fixed amount of electrons. When a shell is full, electrons start filling the next shell.

If an atom has an outer shell that is not full, it may bond with another atom, using the electrons to complete its outer shell. These types of atoms are known as free radicals.

When oxygen molecules split into single atoms that have unpaired electrons, they become unstable free radicals that seek other atoms or molecules to bond to. If this continues to happen, it begins a process called oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress can damage the body's cells, leading to a range of diseases and causes symptoms of ageing, such as wrinkles.

Why does our body produce free radicals if it’s bad?

Free radicals are critical for our bodily functions. The chain reaction of free radicals provides our body’s ability to convert air and food into chemical energy. Free radicals are also a crucial part of the immune system. Free radicals float through the veins and attack foreign invaders.

Some causes of free radicals:

· Inflammation

· Exercise

· Cigarette smoke

· Environmental pollutants

· Radiation

· Certain drugs, pesticides

· Industrial solvents

· Ozone


By now, we all know the harmful effects of smoking. Not only does smoking causes cancer, it also causes free radicals which can accelerate skin ageing.

Smoking causes vasoconstriction, narrowing of blood vessels. This restricts blood flow into your skin. Smoking also depicts many nutrients especially Vitamin C which is an anti-oxidant which helps our body stop the free radical oxidant process.

All these results in:

· Dry skin

· Lines and wrinkles

· Poor scar healing

· Premature ageing

· Skin cancer

· Sagging skin

Lack of sleep and stressful lifestyle:

When you are sleeping, your body releases hormones to repair the damages. If you are not having enough sleep, your body will not able to repair and relief itself from daily stress. When you feel well-rested, your bodily functions are renewed and ready for a new day. Many factors can cause you to lose sleep:

1. Stress

2. Caffeine

3. Visual and audio stimulation before bedtime

4. Medication

5. Jet lag

Stress in small doses is actually a good thing. It acts as a motivator for us to complete our task or reacts quickly in a critical situation.

However, if we put ourselves in a prolonged stressful environment, it can be detrimental not only to our body and skin but to our mental health as well.

If you are unable to sleep because of stress, please speak to your doctor.

Poor nutrition:

We believe you are what you eat. Our body needs nutrients and vitamins for us to function, fight off infection and repair damages. With a busy lifestyle, you may neglect your nutrition and opt for faster options.

Making healthier choices in our food is incredibly beneficial for our skin and overall health.

Food types to avoid:

- Processed food

- Sugar

- Saturated fats

- White Starch/ Carbohydrates

Food types to eat more of:

- Vegetables

- Fruits

- Fatty fish

- Seeds

All of the above damages your dermis and epidermis. When your epidermis and dermis are compromised, not only will your skin show premature ageing, your skin barrier functions may be able to perform it’s role in preventing transepidermal water loss.

What can you do to avoid skin damage and prevent premature ageing?

To prevent skin ageing and damage:

  1. Avoid sun exposure between 10 am to 4 pm when sun ray's is the strongest

  2. Wear sunscreen, with at least SPF 15 every day even in winter and cloudy days

  3. Use at least a tablespoon of sunscreen for your face and neck.

  4. Don’t use tanning bed

  5. Quit smoking

  6. Exercise and find time to relax

  7. Avoid stimulant (caffeine) before bedtime

  8. Be consistent in your skincare and hydration is key

  9. Increase your antioxidant intake

Antioxidants keep free radicals in check. Antioxidants’ ability to give an electron to a free radical without becoming destabilized themselves is crucial in stopping the free radical chain reaction.

Learn more about: Everything about retinoids Everything about skincare acid exfoliant Skin ageing causes

Our body produces some antioxidants on its own but not enough. Here are some food which are high in antioxidants.

  1. Berries (Blueberry, Strawberry, Raspberry

  2. Dark chocolate

  3. Red cabbage

  4. Grapes

  5. Spinach

  6. Broccoli

  7. Kale

  8. Green tea

Healthy skin is a reflection of overall wellness. Makes some changes to your lifestyle and habits and it will show on your skin.

antioxidant fruits to counter free radicals.

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