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Environmental factors that can affect acne

Too much stress and too little sleep all too often go hand in hand with city life, as does a dull, lacklustre complexion. And for those with skin that's prone to acne, urban life can make matters worse. Sun, smog and a hectic lifestyle set the stage for breakouts, but these tips can help prevent their effects from taking a toll on your skin.

If you’re a city dweller, there’s no way to escape pollution. Beyond car exhaust and noxious fumes, the urban jungle is teeming with tiny dust particles. These particles start a chain reaction that causes blackheads, increased oil production and a build-up of dead cells, essentially creating a recipe for acne. Furthermore, pollution can cause blackheads to become more visible and new blemishes to appear. So what’s the skincare solution for pollution? Try one of the number of anti-pollution products that are formulated with unique textures that help prevent particles from aggravating the skin.

UV rays

Everyone loves a sunny day, but UV rays does no favours for the skin. And if you still believe that a bit of sun is a great way to help dry up blemishes, you’re wrong. Yes, a tan may make your complexion appear more even in the short-term, but the drying effect of the sun actually prompts your skin to produce more oil. Combine this extra oil with dead cells lingering on the skin’s surface and spots will return with a vengeance. 

To keep skin clear and healthy, sun protection is a must. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen to shield skin from UVA and UVB rays, and look for an oil-free, non-comedogenic, lightweight fluid formulation. Don’t forget to top up your sun screen regularly (at least every two hours). 

It’s not a coincidence that a new pimple pops up when you have a deadline, exam or personal problem - and you’re not alone. Scientific research has proved that there is a link between high stress levels and acne severity. (1) Doctors haven’t completely figured out this ‘stress effect’ but the culprit seems to be stress-related hormones that kick oil glands into high gear, which in turn increases the chances of breaking out. So if stress is a genuine acne trigger, relaxing will help clear your mind - and your skin. Spending time with friends, hitting the gym, minimising screen time or anything that helps reduce your stress level with benefit your complexion and overall wellbeing. 

(1) Acta Derm Venereol. 2007;87(2):135-9. Study of psychological stress, sebum production and acne vulgaris in adolescents. Yosipovitch G, Tang M, Dawn AG, Chen M, Goh CL, Huak Y, Seng LF.

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