Skin Aging and Elevation: How to Stop it in Its Track

Skin protection

Salt Lake City is home to some of the healthiest and longest-living people in the nation — and it shows. Utah’s elevation is punishing on the skin. Dry air, UV radiation, and winter inversions are hard on the skin — making Utahns appear a little bit older than they actually are. However, a good skincare regimen can protect you from the factors that age your skin.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Skin care

Salt Lake City is one of the driest cities in the nation — with humidity levels that are lower than that of the Sahara desert. Elevation causes the air to be thinner, reducing its capacity to hold moisture. The thinner air also forces your body to breathe faster — increasing your moisture loss. The dry air leaves your skin vulnerable to cracking and aggravate skin conditions like acne or eczema. Consciously try to drink water (because elevation also dulls your feelings of thirst) and avoid diuretics like alcohol and coffee. Use moisturizers regularly — preferably creams instead of lotions. Creams have higher oil content and will moisturize your skin for longer periods. Use one before you sleep and wake up refreshed and ready for the day. It might also be necessary to purchase a home humidifier or a swamp cooler if the air is particularly arid.

Say No to the Sun

Sun damage is no joke, especially at high elevations. Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation gets more concentrated the higher the altitude — sometimes by 6-7 percent more UV for every 1,000 feet of elevation. UV damage accounts for 80 percent of the visible signs of skin aging. UV penetrates into your skin and damages its stem cells as well as breaking down collagen and elastin. Collagen keeps your skin firm and prevents sagging — while elastin keeps your skin flexible. With lower levels of elastin and collagen, your skin is more likely to sag, crack, and wrinkle. Chronic UV exposure can also lead to melanomas and skin cancer. In fact, Utah leads the nation when it comes to the rate of skin cancer and melanomas. Stay out of the sun as much as you can or wear sunblock when going outside. Wear wide-brimmed hats or bring an umbrella with you on particularly sunny days.

Avoid Smoke at All Costs

Air pollution can be damaging to your skin — but smoke that you breathe in is even more so. While pollution and particulates can damage your skin’s surface or even penetrate deeper into your skin — the damage your skin gets if you smoke is actually worse. Particulates in the air can block your pores and cause acne-like breakouts — but a mild astringent, once you get home, can clear it all up. The damage from smoking is more serious — it reduces your body’s oxygen levels, introduces toxins and free radicals into your body, and reduces your collagen and elastin stores. Your skin will take on a dull gray pallor common in smokers, cracks will be more visible, and wrinkles may come a bit earlier. Thankfully, air pollution is easily avoided, and the harmful effects of smoking can be easily reversed by quitting.

Life elevated requires elevating your skincare regimen. Living in Utah almost ensures a long healthy life — all you need to worry about is keeping your looks.

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