Our skin is the biggest organ in the body and our environmental surroundings play a huge role on how it behaves. From UV rays, hot or cold weather and the climate to pollutants, our skin is susceptible to environmental stress and damage we may not even be aware of.
Skin exposure to pollution
With millions of us living in cities and busy towns, it is important to ensure your skincare routine protects your skin from everyday stressors which are a part of urban life.
One of the many factors skin has to contend with are air pollutants known as particulate matter (PM) and this includes different types (some solid, some liquid) such as soot, dust or smoke or even smaller specs, which cannot be seen by the naked eye. They originate from heating, industrial emissions and air as well as road traffic, particularly from diesel engines.
Combine these factors and how often we encounter these on a daily basis and you realise the effect of pollution and how much our skin has to contend with.
Effect of pollution on skin
A clinical study was conducted measuring multiple aspects of skin health and appearance of over 200 women, across the least and most polluted districts of Beijing (one of the worst affected cities worldwide), while simultaneously recording their lifestyle choices. Results indicated that despite making better lifestyle choices, such as cleansing routines, water consumption and greater skin care product usage; those living in the highly polluted district had significantly worse skin hydration than subjects living in the cleaner air suburbs. In addition, lower levels of important ‘biomarkers’ which indicate a compromised skin barrier function were found in the urban subjects. This highlights the importance of skincare today to incorporate pollution-fighting, barrier building ingredients. An essential skincare ingredient, niacinamide (a form of vitamin b3), is supported by over 20 years of data and published research that proves its ability to restore and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier, whilst improving skin hydration and promoting skin surface exfoliation.
How does pollution impact skin?
Aside from leaving the surface of your skin feeling dirty, some chemicals attached to pollution particles can penetrate through the skin’s layers and cause so-called oxidative stress which can weaken the skin’s barrier and trigger inflammation. If your exposure to these particles is high and your skin isn’t protected this can result in skin pigmentation problems, an uneven skin tone and dullness, as well as the formation of wrinkles – all signs of premature skin ageing. People with sensitive skin types, as well as those suffering from inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema, are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution (1) as they have a compromised skin barrier to start with, making it even more important to ensure your skin is protected. How to protect your skin from pollution?
Unfortunately, for women in the city and those living in urban areas there is no way to avoid the pollution in the air altogether, therefore it is important to use skincare that can help protect against its impact on our skin and lead to premature skin ageing.
There are a number of strategies to help your skin fight the environmental stressors from urban living, including
- Using skin cleansers that thoroughly remove dirt and impurities while not stripping skin.
- Protection against UV: When it comes to providing SPF products that help protect your skin from harmful UV rays, using them on a daily basis is important, which, in addition to offering sun protection will help moisturise the skin too.
- Application of antioxidants such as Vitamin E & C, and Green Tea Extract to help fight free radicals on the skin's surface layers.