The Astonishing Ways Pollution is Damaging Your Skin

Pollution makes breathing hard, but how does it impact your skin? We examine the damaging effects of pollution and the solutions that protect your skin.

Uneven skin tone? Accelerated aging? Loss of firmness? All of these are evidence of the damage air pollution has on your skin. You already know diet and exercise play an important role in your skin’s health, but environmental air quality may be a greater cause for beauty concern than you’ve realized.

Air Pollution IS Damaging Your Skin

Studies show that air pollution has a significant effect on our skin. Pollutants like cigarette smoke, dust, smog, and vehicle exhaust cause all sorts of skin irritations like allergic reactions, rashes, wrinkles, decreased elasticity, and accelerated aging.

An article on Raconteur cites the Skin Cancer Foundation’s estimate that upwards of 90 percent of premature aging can be attributed to pollution. The Raconteur article also quotes Dr. Stefanie Williams, an independent dermatologist and spokesperson for beauty industry giant Avon, who adds, “The negative impact of environmental factors other than UV light has long been neglected.” Is it time to start paying more attention to air quality when it comes to skincare?

For those living in urban environments, this is particularity unsettling news as we are far more likely to be exposed to air pollution due to a high population density. With an increased amount of motor vehicles, construction sites, factories, and power plants in urban areas, the amount of dust and toxic chemicals in the air creates plenty of problems for our bodies.

Exposure to these pollutants puts your body’s natural protective layer at risk of developing a slew of negative side effects including dark spots, wrinkles, and a dull, uneven skin tone, to name just a few.

Some of these pollutants are so small that they infiltrate the skin through pores and cause inflammation and dehydration. These small pollutants also break down collagen levels which leads to the loss of elasticity and firmness.

In areas where air quality is poor, the ozone layer that protects you from the sun’s harmful rays can be disrupted, causing intensified sun exposure and an increased concern for skin cancer. What makes this even more alarming? Unlike a sunburn, the skin’s increased exposure to these harmful sun rays is not immediately noticeable. It is often a gradual process which makes it harder to detect and treat.

Packing Yet? Here Are Some Simple Solutions for Protecting Your Skin

Don’t abandon your city loft just yet. Living in an urban environment doesn’t mean your skin is at a total loss. In fact, whether or not you’re a city dweller, simple practices like cleansing your face thoroughly everyday, staying hydrated, and eating nutrient-rich foods will help to keep your body and skin healthy.

fruit assortment on white background

Açai berry much?

Foods and skincare products that are rich in antioxidants (particularly vitamin E) are a great treatment for damaged collagen and will be helpful in repairing the body and skin. Collagen helps your skin cells keep renewing and repairing normally and when damaged there is a loss in firmness and elasticity.

Common foods packed with antioxidants: Berries (açai berries, blueberries, cranberries, etc.), nuts, dark green veggies, orange veggies, whole grains

Hydration, a common courtesy to your body

Drinking an appropriate amount of water daily will ensure your body has the necessary resources it needs to function properly. The Mayo Clinic has a useful guide on knowing your adequate intake of water and how to stay safely hydrated.  (Hint, it’s more than just 8 glasses!)

Hydration while you sleep?

Yes! Getting the right amount of sleep is a great habit to get into, but hydrating your skin while you sleep with a humidifier also works its wonders. When your body is well hydrated, you have more energy, and your skin appears brighter and suppler. While applying a moisturizer daily has its benefits, the long term effects of constant hydration helps keep your skin in its best condition. Talk about skin rejuvenation sans product.

Try out a new cleanse

Cleansing your face, that is. Adding microdermabrasion and exfoliation, especially with an electronic brush,  to your daily face cleansing routine is important in getting rid of any residual toxins and sticky particles like soot. Your skin will be left feeling (and looking) clean and fresh. This is one type of cleanse that will always be on trend!

That famous 1997 song was on to something when it encouraged you to “Wear sunscreen”

Protecting the body’s natural barrier is imperative. Wearing sunscreen even when it’s not particularly sunny out is important to protect your skin from the sun’s powerful and harmful UV rays. These rays can act as a skin cell accelerator. With appropriate skin protection, you can reduce your chance of accelerated aging, evidence of dark spots, and skin cancer development.

Clean indoor air is your skin’s best friend

Investing in an air purifier is an important step in protecting your skin as your indoor environment can be as toxic as your outdoor environment (check it out, we wrote a whole blog post about it). Lack of ventilation, chemicals in cleaning supplies and paint, and dust in bedding and carpet are all additional irritants to your skin.

Sunset in Paris

Awareness is Key

Your body has only one layer of protection between you and the environment. We must protect this layer at all costs. Staying on top of your skincare regime and being conscious of the amount of pollution in your air will help you to combat the negative effects of poor air quality.