There are many ways in which air pollution can impact your skin, particularly if you live in a more urban area.
Pollutants generate free radicals on the skin, increasing sensitivity due to oxidative stress which has a number of effects.
Nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone, particle pollution and cigarette smoke are just some examples of the types of pollutants acting on your skin day to day, mainly released through industrial processes.
Such pollution, especially in combination with solar ultraviolet radiation, can lead to ageing, eczema, psoriasis, acne and even skin cancer.
When VOCs react with nitrous oxides and sunlight, photochemical oxidant products are formed (most commonly ozone). This is also called summer photochemical smog. Exposure to ozone can damage the epidermis, reduce the level of antioxidants such as vitamin C, and increase inflammation. It has also been correlated with cases of hives (urticaria) and eczema.
Particle pollution, or particulate matter (PM), mainly consists of metals, ions and carbon compounds. Due to the reactive nature of PM, it can induce oxidative stress on the skin, causing wrinkles and pigmentation - the signs of ageing.
Cigarette smoke has also been linked to premature ageing of the skin, not to mention the fact that when in combination with UV radiation, this process becomes more rapid. It has also been associated with psoriasis, skin cancer and increased breakouts (pimples).
Now, that’s a lot to take in. You’re probably wondering “how do I protect my skin from all of these pollutants?!”
Well, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a few things you can do!
Making sure to wash your face properly every day is vitally important in cleansing away these pollutants. A good cleanser is a super important investment that your skin will thank you for in the future. For example, our SHS Carbo Cleanser contains activated charcoal which attracts oil and dirt in your pores, tackling congestion, removing toxins and reducing inflammation whilst being gentle on your skin barrier. This is just the type of product you need to wash the day away without causing further irritation.
Now, a good sunscreen is also crucial. Solar UV radiation often reacts synergistically with pollutants, meaning the effects caused are more rapid and extreme. Our RP Moisturiser assists in reflecting harmful UV radiation to protect your epidermis and thus reduce the combined effects of solar radiation with pollutants.
A good serum is also worthwhile investing in to give your skin that extra nourishment it needs. Something gentle is always recommended, like our REM Serum. This serum assists in reducing pigmentation, improving barrier function and decreasing sensitivity.
For more information, check out our Skincare 101: Back to Basics guide or book an online consultation with one of our specialist registered nurses for professional advice on how to be your best skin!