Niche Beauty

Inside the Studio

DR. BARBARA STURM

Expert-Talk

by Katja Lips

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For skin expert Dr. Barbara Sturm, the biggest trigger for skin aging is environmental stress. Whether air pollution, UV rays or the blue light from a computer, tablet or telephone, these invisible microparticles can get through the natural skin barrier into deeper layers and cause inflammation. For this reason, Dr. Barbara Sturm has developed Anti-Pollution Drops, a systematic skin protection that is mixed daily into skin care and acts as a protective shield..

The subject of environmental pollution seems to becoming more and more important ...

Much has been written about the dramatic consequences of global pollution. But so far little has been said about what environmental pollution means for the skin and how we can protect ourselves against it.

What does it mean for the skin?

Environmental pollution is generally a danger to the skin, but also for the whole health. And it is not a trend; it is a constantly spreading, invisible reality. And you can't escape it, because pollution is limitless, travels with the wind and has spread all over the world. According to NASA and other scientific surveys, toxic emissions from burnt Chinese coal, for example, reach the west coast of the USA through the jet stream, where they cause 1/3 of pollution from particulate matter (PM) and 65% of toxic ozone. For this reason, California has 8 of the 10 cities with the highest air pollution in the USA..

"Environmental pollution is generally a skin hazard!"

That doesn't sound good!

Environmental pollution in India and China is known, tragic and is expected to double by 2035. Pollution means that if you lived on a farm in Northern California, on the Japanese Sea or in the hills of Taiwan, the heavy metals and particles 'Made in China' would rain on you. Paris and London, with its earlier policy of promoting diesel cars, have seen alarming levels of particulate matter in recent years. But Los Angeles also has some of the worst ozone levels in the world.

How should we imagine the effects on the skin?

The skin is bombarded daily with environmental toxins such as industrial pollution, tobacco smoke, particulate matter from exhaust gases, heavy metals and ozone. These pollutants do not only have an enormous influence on our skin with regard to premature skin aging and skin diseases, but if the skin barrier function is impaired (in particular ozone and fine dust damage these, if unprotected), the toxins are also absorbed more strongly and get through the skin into our bodies and organs.

And what does pollution do to the skin?

The pollutants disrupt the normal function of the outer skin layer (lipids) and the DNA and proteins of the skin through oxidative damage that leads to inflammatory reactions. Dozens of studies show that airborne pollutants on human skin contribute to skin cancer, skin aging, atopic dermatitis, skin discoloration, eczema, psoriasis and acne and are absorbed through the skin into the body and organs, which can cause a variety of diseases.

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How can you protect yourself from that?

The top priority is to strengthen a healthy skin barrier function in order to prevent as many harmful substances as possible from entering the skin. Environmental pollution breaks down collagen and oxidizes the lipid layer in the skin, which not only causes ageing, but also impairs the function of the skin barrier and triggers a cascade of DNA-damaging events. And can be the trigger for skin diseases.

How can a damaged barrier function be identified?

If the barrier function of the skin is impaired by harmful substances, it automatically acts as a sluice for any tissue. PM2.5, the molecule that is very widespread in smog, is too large to penetrate the skin, but eliminates the skin's barrier function, leading to dehydration, sensitivity, uneven skin tone, dullness, acne and visible premature aging. 

What can be done for the skin?

Reduce stress and maximize the restful power of sleep. Anti-inflammatory foods such as cherries, blueberries, nuts, salmon and green leafy vegetables should be at the top of your menu. Inflammatory foods such as processed meat, sugar, fried foods and refined flour should not be on the menu.

"Reduce stress and maximize the restful power of sleep."

 

What does this mean for the lifestyle?

Reduce stress and maximize the restful power of sleep. Anti-inflammatory foods such as cherries, blueberries, nuts, salmon and green leafy vegetables should be at the top of your menu. Inflammatory foods such as processed meat, sugar, fried foods and refined flour should not be on the menu.

Is there any other beauty tip?

Whenever possible, go to the sauna. Studies have shown that this washes out heavy metals and toxins and supports a healthy skin protective barrier. Important: Immediately afterwards apply a cream to keep moisture in the skin and prevent it from drying out.

What should be observed with care products that protect against environmental pollution?

To be effective, each product must always contain (or be linked to) UV protection and ingredients that are able to hydrate the skin, strengthen the natural skin barrier and form a film barrier, bind heavy metals and neutralise inflammation. Supported by selected antioxidants in a suitable concentration and form to also combat cell stress through free radicals.

This sounds like a lot of requirements and facts that should be taken into account. Thank you very much for your expertise!

With pleasure! I have dedicated my work to a healthy skin.

Thank you, Dr. Barbara Sturm!

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