How Moving To A New City Can Affect Your Skin

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Are you moving to a new city or country? While you may want to obsess about paint colors and unpacking, you might not even notice that the move may be affecting your skin. In fact, after you move, you might see rashes, dryness, abnormal sensitivity and increased breakouts or oil. Water, climate, food (yes, food!), stress and pollution are the major culprits in these changes. Here is my expert advice for adapting your skin to your new life, should you experience some problems after moving.

In this case, I’m not referring to drinking water, but rather the water you use on your body and face. The quality of this water may affect your skin when washing your face and showering. If you've moved from somewhere with hard water to an area with soft water, something as simple as cleansing your skin may cause some changes. Cleansers don't rinse off as well in soft water and, therefore, residue may be left on skin. Conversely, if your skin is used to soft water and now you're using hard water, it may be harsher for those who suffer from dry skin. Using an alcohol-free toner after cleansing becomes an even more important step to remove drying chemicals, salts and chlorine found in tap water, as well as cleanser residue, which could prevent serums and moisturizers from performing at their best. 

It's a fact that when seasons change, the skin is affected (negatively or positively); however, weather tends to be a slow transition, so the skin can adjust more effectively. The challenge with moving to a new city, state, or country is that you are immediately thrown into a new climate with different humidity levels, and your skin may initially have a hard time adapting. When the air is dry, it looks for moisture wherever it can get it, which means taking water from the deep layers in the skin. Dehydrated cells can cause a buildup that can trap oil underneath, leading to an increase in breakouts.

If you move from a humid region to an area with low humidity, you may need to switch to a heavier moisturizer to ensure your skin retains hydration. On the other hand, a more humid environment will call for a lighter moisturizer. Temperatures can also impact the skin, as heat can cause redness and more visible capillaries. Using products with white tea, chamomile and bisabolol will help to soothe the skin and reduce sensitivity. Hotter temperatures can also cause an increase in oil production, which can lead to clogged pores and blemishes.

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Food may come as a surprise, but in certain areas, you may be exposed to various foods that you may not have been previously. For example, since moving to Texas, I eat far more cheese and sour cream (from all the amazing Tex-Mex restaurants) than I did when I lived in the Northeast. Dairy may have an impact on skin because of the hormones given to cows, resulting in hard, sore cystic blemishes that develop under the skin and can linger for weeks. If, after a move, you experience more breakouts, you may want to examine how your diet has changed. But, this rule goes for those not moving too: A change in diet may cause a change in the skin.

No matter how big or small, moving can be quite stressful. A period of high stress can wreak havoc on the skin and affect skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Also, extreme stress increases cortisol levels, which causes an increase in oil production that can lead to breakouts. During stressful times, if you find you're getting more breakouts, be sure to incorporate products with salicylic acid into your routine to help minimize breakouts. Also, if it's possible, try to take a few minutes out of your day to relax. It really will help your skin. 

Moving to a new city with high levels of air pollution and smog (such as Los Angeles) can increase damaging oxygen-based free radicals, which contribute to a breakdown in the skin's collagen and may leave the skin looking dull and sluggish. They attack all areas of our cells, deform DNA, destroy skin's moisture barrier, and even can lead to acne and redness. To keep the skin looking fresh and bright, and to prevent the air from doing harm, I recommend investing in a well-formulated antioxidant serum with high levels of stable vitamin C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is my favorite form of C) and using it faithfully every day under sunscreen. Vitamin C, when applied topically to the skin, can slow down environmental damage.

Moving is a big enough hassle, so don't let aggravated skin become one more thing you have to deal with during this time. If you find your skin is acting differently, it's important to assess your new environment and adjust your skin care regimen accordingly. Now is the time to see an aesthetician or other skin-care professional in your new area to help address your skin's changing needs.        

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