How Does Air Pollution Affect Your Skin?

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

Most of us think of air pollution only being an issue for our respiratory health. But did you know that pollution in the air can affect your skin?  

The worst pollutants for skin Air pollutants can include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), cigarette smoke and oxides.  These pollutants contribute to skin aging, including dryness, wrinkling, and dark spots. Additionally, air pollution has been associated with skin cancer, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and acne. Pollution creates damage to our skin by creating free radicals which are unpaired atoms with an odd number of electrons. Free radicals are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules creating a chain reaction of damage to important cellular structures.

How to combat pollution Luckily, antioxidants can interact with free radicals to stop cellular damage. The most common antioxidants utilized in skin care products to protect the impact of pollution to our skin are Vitamin E and Vitamin C. Vitamins E and C are most commonly ingested, but they can also be used topically to provide skin protection since they are two of the primary antioxidants found in the skin and are easily absorbed.

Since everyone is susceptible to skin damage from air pollution, we must all be mindful of protecting our skin. Creating a physical barrier with sunscreen and moisturizer is effective before you head out to start your day.  At the end of the day, I recommend cleansing your face with a sulfate-free cleanser to wash away the toxins we are exposed to daily.

Need a sulfate-free cleanser? Check out Clearly Luminous Cleanser!

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