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Travelling This Summer? These Capital Cities Are Best for Skin Health

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Skincare: a hot topic throughout the years, and that’s not about to change anytime soon – #skincare has seen a 45% spike in interest on TikTok in the last year alone. And we aren’t surprised why. When your skin looks and feels good, it’s bound to have a knock-on effect on how you feel.

So, you have your 10-step skin routine on lockdown, but one day you wake up to rough, dry, or inflamed skin – why! Whilst your skincare routine is very personal and can have incredible effects on the condition of your skin, it’s important to realise how external factors can play a role too.

While city life brings a lot of benefits, living or working in the city can actually be incredibly harsh on your skin – in some cities more than others. But what is likely affecting your skin the most where you live? And how can you help your skin as a result? Liberty has analysed 38 OECD countries for external and environmental factors, including sunlight exposure, UV levels, temperature, humidity, air quality, prevalence of smoking and vaping, traffic congestion, and average working hours, using each factor as a metric to score capital cities out of 100 and find out which cities are the best for skin.

By totalling individual scores for each factor identified, Liberty found the top 20 best cities for your skin health. Coming up in the top spot is Vienna, Austria, with a total score of 70.83. Perhaps surprisingly to some, London, UK, swooped in at number 5, just below Stockholm, Sweden.

1. Vienna, Austria

Scoring a staggering 70.83 out of 100, Vienna tops the chart as the best city for your skin. With only 0.7% of the population vaping, the smallest percentage out of all of the countries, and a calming climate with a fair level of humidity, in many ways Vienna has great conditions to keep your skin healthy. Sun damage is a huge contributor to poor skin health. With an average UV radiation of 3.3, deemed as a moderate to low level of sun exposure according to WHO, citizens of Vienna have less to worry about when it comes to sun damage. When the sun does come out, people can protect their skin by seeking shades during midday hours, slipping on a shirt, slopping on sunscreen, and slapping on a hat.

2. Tokyo, Japan

With an overall score of 67.4 out of 100, Tokyo scores well across the board, bringing the city in second place. Tokyo has one of the most ideal climates for skin amongst the cities analysed, with an average temperature of 17.8°C, and a 64% humidity score. That combined with the fairly pleasant weather and the country’s well-known focus on skincare, it’s clear why the Japanese are so often known for their clear and radiant skin. That being said, Japan has one of the highest levels of smoking amongst the countries analysed, with the average smoker smoking 15.5 cigarettes a day.

3. Ottowa, Canada

Coming in third, just behind Tokyo, is Ottowa. With an incredibly low average UV radiation, at just 2.7, people can enjoy the outdoors with little worry about sun damage – although even with a low UV, applying sunscreen daily is key for skin health. Canadians also have one of the lowest average working hours per week, at an average of 32.1 hours, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. However, the city is known for being one of the coldest winter capitals in the world, bringing the annual average temperature to around 8°C. Cold weather can be harsh on the skin, so keeping it moisturised is important.

4. Stockholm, Sweden

Narrowly missing out on the top 3 spots, Stockholm scores a very respectable 67.18 out of 100 for its conditions for skin health. Once again, this is contributed to by the low average UV radiation of 2.3, but notably, Stockholm has one of the cleanest airs amongst the cities analysed, with an annual average PM2.5 concentration of just 5.4. This clean air allows skin to breathe, without it being in contact with too many air pollutants that can cause cell damage, leading to premature ageing.
What’s more, Stockholm is ranked second on the lowest number of cigarettes per smoker per day, at 9.1 – that’s one-third of the number of cigarettes per smoker per day in Iceland, whose average is at a staggering 27.

5. London, UK

Scoring fairly consistently across the board, London ranks fifth with a score of 66.73 out of 100. This is likely contributed to most by the fairly low sun exposure, with only 69 days of sunlight per year, and a moderate average UV radiation score of 3.

One of the most apparent effects of smoking is how it makes the skin look and feel! An average Brit smoker consumes about 10 cigarettes per day, which, in comparison to other cities, is relatively low, and another significant factor in why the city ranks so highly for skin health.

6. Oslo, Norway

Neighbouring Stockholm, Sweden, Oslo in Norway has similar characteristics to its neighbour as to why it is considered one of the top 10 best cities for skin health, with a score of 66.38 out of 100. Low UV radiation (2.3) partnered with low working hours per week (33.7 hours) and a minimal amount of extra time that citizens spend in travel congestion (22%) across the year, all contribute to Oslo’s ranking.  

7. Dublin, Ireland

With a score of 66.31 out of 100, Dublin’s low UV radiation of 2.6 and low number of days of sunlight per year, at just 60 days, brings the city into the top 10 best cities for skin health. What drops Dublin out of the top 5 is the high percentage of extra time people in the city have to spend in traffic congestion, at a staggering 66%. Pollution from traffic emissions can damage skin cells significantly, contributing to clogged pores and dryness, amongst other things.

8. Berlin, Germany

Ranking among the top 10 cities for lowest traffic pollution, citizens in Berlin have less to worry about when it comes to emissions damaging skin cells. With a moderate average UV radiation over the year of 3.2, and a moderate sun exposure (at 71.3 days of sunlight per year on average), sun exposure and damage can be significantly reduced by wearing sunscreen and covering up when the sun is out. Germany is also among the countries with the lowest weekly working hours – standing at 34.2 hours, which contributes to the city’s respectable score of 66.15.

9. Canberra, Australia

While Canberra has the highest sunlight exposure amongst all of the capitals that were analysed, with a significant 117.3 days of sunlight on average across the year, the average UV is actually relatively low, at 3.4 according to WHO, so sun damage can be limited if people are protected with sunscreen, shirts, and hats. This helps to bring its overall score to a respectable 65.82.

What brings Canberra into the top 10 best cities for skin health is also air cleanliness. The capital is ranked second, after only Wellington, for having the cleanest air, with the annual average PM2.5 concentration at just 3.8. That, paired with ranking top for low traffic congestion and low extra travel time (just 18%!), provides clean and skin-friendly air for citizens.

10. Bern, Switzerland

Ranking tenth, Bern, Switzerland, scores 65.30 out of 100 for skin friendliness. The capital scores relatively consistently across the board, with moderate sun exposure (74 days of sunlight per year) and a low UV average of only 2.8. The capital has one of the lowest rates of smoking too, with an average of 10 cigarettes per day per smoker, and just 1.4% of the population vaping. 

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