Research Outline

Lifestyle Factors Affecting the Skin


To determine, with as many hard statistics as possible, how different lifestyle factors - such as diet, sleep, exercise and others - affect the skin, with a specific focus on how these factors affect skin aging, in order to inform the writing of a marketing article. For each factor identified, attempt to provide a breakdown by which demographic it predominately affects (i.e. younger vs older demographic, men vs women, different races/ethnicities).

Early Findings

During our review of the available studies on environmental factors causing skin aging, we found that "environmental factors that influence skin aging and carcinogenesis fall into the following major categories: sun radiation (ultraviolet radiation, visible light, and infra-red radiation), air pollution, tobacco smoke, nutrition, some less well-studied factors, and cosmetic products."

Other factors identified but not covered below are: sleep, obesity, menopause, and emotional stress.

We also found that "more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined."

Exposure to Sunlight

  • It has been "well documented" that exposure to sunlight (specifically UVB (290‐320 nm) and UVA (320‐400)) causes premature aging and skin damage.
  • Skin damage due to sun exposure is more common in Caucasian populations and less common in Asian populations, as Asian people as a culture tend to avoid the sun.
  • Skin damage due to sun is more likely in people with lighter skin tone.
  • Other factors include living at higher altitudes, having a family history of cancer/skin cancer, spending a lot of time outside, or taking certain medications that make skin more sensitive to sunlight.
  • An estimated 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun.
  • Since sun exposure if cumulative over the lifetime, people aged 1-18 have only been exposed to 23% of the total lifetime sun exposure, while persons aged 60-78 and above have been exposed to 100% of lifetime exposure.

Exposure to Air Pollution

  • It has recently been determined that air pollution may also cause premature aging and skin damage, specifically exposure to smog, ozone, and particulate matter.
  • Skin damage due to air pollution is caused by "a complex cascade of reactions inside the skin initiated by the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which causes oxidative damage to cellular components such as proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. These damaged skin cells initiate inflammatory responses leading to the eventual damage manifested in chronically exposed skin."


  • Diet is known to be a factor in premature skin aging and skin conditions.
  • High sugar diets are linked to acne, but have also recently been linked to premature skin aging.
  • People with diabetes are more prone to skin aging.
  • Diets higher in meat and lower in vegetables and fruit have also been shown to be linked with facial wrinkles in women.


  • Smoking is known to be a cause of skin aging, as well as other skin imperfections.
  • Skin damage and premature skin aging have been seen on people who smoke for five years or more.