We’ve learned about the effects of pollution on skin, and as a result, the industry has created an entire new category of products to prevent and treat them. We’ve also learned about other detrimental effects on air quality, such as smoke from wildfires, that negatively impact skin, and now there’s also a product for that. However, even non-threatening factors like humidity play a significant role in skin health, which is why the region and climate we live in is so important when choosing the formulas to include in our daily product regimens.
No7 Beauty took a closer look at the data to find out which states are best and worst for our skin, based on air quality, humidity levels and sunlight exposure, and here’s what it found, which may surprise you.
In the study, the team at No7 Beauty scored each state out of 135 to determine which were best for skin health (lower scores mean better for skin). Topping the charts is Montana with 22 points thanks to ideal humidity levels—its average yearly temperature is only 42.7 degrees—good air quality and least amount of sun exposure. North Dakota takes second place, scoring 26, and rounding out the top five are Minnesota (30 points), Iowa (30 points) and Nebraska (40 points).
“The optimum environmental temperature for skin—and for the human body—is around 64.4 to 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Dr. Mike Bell, head of science research at No7 Beauty. “This allows for optimum heat exchange between the body—at 98.6 degrees—and the outside.” Humidity was calculated by taking averages of the humidity percentages in each state from the morning and evening, and ranking the states in order of those closest to the average of 65 percent. According to No7, “humidity refers to moisture (or the lack of it) in the air, and excess humidity causes pores to open, making them susceptible to dirt, oil and allergens, which can trigger acne, skin breakouts, eczema, and allergic reactions.” However, too little humidity can dry skin out—Nevada scored best for ideal humidity conditions; Louisiana was noted as the driest, least humid state.
Surprisingly, the analysis revealed West Virginia to have the worst environmental conditions for skin health, scoring a whopping 134 points out of 135. Despite its relatively mild temperatures year-round (about 52 degrees), it received poor scores across the board. Ohio (125), Indiana (114), California (111) and Georgia (111) complete the top five in the “worst” category, and who would have thought the latter two would receive the same score but be so vastly different? Turns out, Georgia has terrible air quality—worse than California, which is hard to believe—but lower levels of humidity and sun exposure.
Arizona ranked lower than we’d imagined as well, at number 40 of the 50 states, due to it being the state with most sun exposure. “Only small amounts of sun exposure are required for adequate vitamin D production, so really the more annual sun exposure there is, the greater the risk of sun damage and skin cancer risk—if the skin is unprotected without SPF,” says Dr. Bell.
Utah fell to the bottom of the list for air quality levels, scoring the max 50 points for this category. According to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, the reason for this a combination of the state’s topography, weather patterns in the region and emissions. On the other hand, Hawaii has the best air quality levels (no big shocker there!), scoring only one point in this category (lowest being best).