SHIELDING SKIN FROM
THE ENEMY, IT SEEMS, IS ALL AROUND US. RESEARCHERS EXPLAIN HOW TO
ALLEVIATE DAMAGE CAUSED BY A VARIETY OF VILLAINS.
HUMAN SKIN is bombarded by environmental, chemical and pharma-physiological insults. At a young age, these attacks may seem imperceptible, but they contribute
to skin aging. Using potentially irritating or skin-incompatible
ingredients in daily-use home care, laundry and personal care
products can cause increscent damage, due to a cascading array
of inflammatory responses. This poses both a technical dilemma
and a marketing opportunity: to formulate innovative skin care
products to protect skin from these topically adversarial factors.
While the use of such formulations by aging consumers may alleviate visible and perceptible inflictions, their regular use at a
young age can lead to problems.
The challenges posed by environmental factors include pollutants (oxides of carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen, ozone and free
radicals), electromagnetic waves (UV and others), and airborne
toxic chemicals (
pesticides, chemical sprays
factors include the use of
certain drugs and medical treatments (such as
chemotherapy and radiation) to cure physical ailments. Epidemiologically, there is a link between poor air quality
and topical and other systemic diseases.1 Even a loud noise can
cause enough stress to retard wound healing!2
Repeated exposure to certain chemicals that may be present
innocuously in a daily use product can cause multiple chemical
sensitivity (MCS). MCS, or idiopathic environmental intolerances
(IEI), is a non-specific chronic medical condition attributed to
low-level exposures to commonly used chemicals and certain
biologic or physical agents.
Among systemic ailments caused by airborne antagonists, it is
well known that the contents of cigarette smoke negatively affect
sperm count, seminal plasma and other fertility factors. Smoking
increases the presence of reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting
in oxidative stress (OS), which has devastating effects on cellular
biology, including sperm viability and morphology, and impairs
sperm function, hence reducing male fertility. 3
Similarly, tobacco smoke compounds exert a deleterious effect on the process of ovarian follicle maturation. Cigarette smoking comprises every system involved in the reproductive process. 4
Even passive smoking during childhood and adolescence can
lead to infertility and abortion in adulthood. 5 Inhalation of tobacco smoke in childhood results in equal occurrence of COPD
for active and passive smokers. 6
Airborne pollen is a major culprit for causing topical allergy
and hay fever symptoms. Ragweed and birch pollen, for example,
cause hay fever and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. 7 Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with cardiopulmo-nary diseases. 8
Airborne sulfur dioxide (SO2) exposure has a direct correlation to mortality and morbidity. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure
from gas cooking causes respiratory symptoms and decreases
lung function in children. When carbon monoxide (CO) in the
lungs binds with blood hemoglobin it forms carboxyhemoglo-bin, which impairs the oxygen transport. CO exposure leads to
hypoxia, neurological deficits and neurobehavioral changes.
Acute effects of ozone (O3) include pulmonary function decrements, aggravation of pre-existing respiratory diseases and excess mortality. 9
The above examples illustrate some of the damage caused by
airborne antagonists to internal organs. How do these invisible
culprits damage visible beauty? There seems to be link between
the extrinsic and intrinsic ailments caused by atmospheric culprits such as UV, free radicals, ROS, CO, NO2, SO2 and O3.
Extrinsic skin aging results from chronic exposure to solar
radiation and tobacco smoke. Chronic exposure to ultraviolet
Shyam Gupta, Ph.D. • Bioderm Research
John Stanek and Melinda Wochner • CoValence Laboratories, Inc.
(UV, CO, CO2, ,SO2, NO2, 03, CIO
Particulates, Smoke, Pollen, Nano)
(Skin Aging, Acne, Allergic Rash)
(COPD, Allergy, Cancer)
Poor air quality, like this scene from
Beijing, may play a role in topical and
other systemic diseases.