What Pollution Does to Your Skin

By November 9, 2016

As if the threat that pollution brings to the planet wasn’t bad enough, it also puts your skin’s health in danger. Learn how air pollution affects your skin and the best ways to protect your complexion.

You may already know at least the highlights of how air pollution negative affects your health. Knowing how toxic air affects your skin, though, is probably not as clear yet. Mostly because scientists are just beginning to release their final conclusions on how pollution affects skin’s aging process and how it is linked to skin conditions such as eczema and hives.

What Is Air Pollution, After All?
Pollution doesn’t just extend to the exhaust that is coming out of cars. While nitric oxide and hydrocarbons from burned fuel are certainly a large component, don’t forget there’s all kind of floating debris in the air. And even natural sources of airborne irritants could be problematic to our skin: A study performed by Japanese multinational Shiseido found that even pollen could reduce how well a skin model in a lab setting held on to moisture.

What Are the Damages Linked to Air Pollution?
Air pollution is now known for causing premature aging and acne, accelerating wrinkles and dark spots, and drying out your complexion. Think about it this way: Pollutants in the gross urban air mutate your normal functioning, happy cells, making them more prone to these issues mentioned before.

How To Protect Your Skin From This Threat?
Reducing our exposure to pollution is likely still the most effective method. Even working indoors doesn’t mean you’re free from exposure to pollution. That’s why it’s important to clean your skin at the end of the day, once it helps to remove all the potential irritants and pollutants that have attached to our skin throughout the day.

Keeping an indoor plant might also help pollutants from latching onto your skin. Certain plants like the Epipremnum aureum and Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ are able to reduce levels of air pollutants like benzene in the air.

Are There Any Products That Can Help?
Of course! Using an oil cleanser like Erborian’s Solid Cleansing Oil and a water-based cleanser, such as Benton’s Honest Cleansing Foam, is the number one rule here. These products will wash off all the bad molecules without stripping any key oils from your face.

Plus, as evidence mounts that pollution can damage our skin, more and more cosmetics claim anti-pollution benefits. While marketing innovates faster than science, there are some new technologies that may prove useful in protecting our skin from pollution. For instance, some companies are developing mesh films that can be applied to our skin that keep pollutants from adhering to the skin, and can even repel them by using ionic effects. Others are using antioxidants to reduce damage caused by pollutants.

The main goal here is to help your skin reinforce it’s immune barrier. And even though antioxidants are not new, the evidence shows that they have a protective effect against pollution certainly is! Focus on ingredients like vitamin C, centella asiatica, green tea, and snail mucin. The idea is protect the rest of your cells from free radical damage, while also preventing the formation of new free radicals.

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Collaborated: Stephen Ko
* This article was first published on August 19, 2016.

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