Pollution and Your Skin

6 years ago

How often do you think about pollution?  Outdoor pollution or even indoor pollution?  If you are lucky enough to live in a place that is not adversely affected by pollution you might rarely give it a second thought.  Well today is a good time to give some thought to protecting both yourself and your skin on a daily basis from pollution.

Pollution is one of the top five causes of skin aging.  I’ll repeat that – pollution is one of the top five causes of skin aging.  Just because you don’t live in a place that has smog warnings (like LA for instance) or obvious air pollution don’t forget that car exhaust is greatly affecting your skin.  According to a recent post on Daily Beauty Reporter Blog on allure.com German scientists have actually proved that exposure to air pollution over time can cause skin aging.  Furthermore:

Carbon particles, along with polyaromatic hydrocarbons (byproducts of burning fuel), are the main culprits. Both are released as a result of traffic pollution, and both, thanks to the way they just happen to bind with the skin, cause aging. In fact, the study, which was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, found that the more airborne particles around, the more age spots appeared.

Another skincare issue that can be affected by pollution is actually acne.  In 2004 Italian researchers reported that living in an urban environment can expose one to significant pollutants such as benzenes which can lead to elevations in IGF-1 blood levels.  IGF-1, aka insulin-like growth factor-1, is an anabolic hormone involved in growth and development and usually increases around puberty; this hormone plays a role in acne formation.  Perhaps increased urban pollution and the fact that pollution can lead to increased IGF-1 levels might help partially explain the rise in adult acne.  There has even been research in the past that indicates that there are higher rates of acne in urban environments as opposed to rural ones.  Could pollution be a factor?  If you live in a city or near a city and suffer from acne you might want to consider taking steps to protect your skin from pollution as part of your anti-acne regime.

And pollution doesn’t come just from the outside.  Unfortunately our homes and offices are also filled with pollutants that come from electronics, carpets, paint emissions, heating and cooling units, and finishes on furniture.   Please keep that in mind as well.

Just how does all this pollution negatively affect our skin?  Exposure to pollution leads to free radical damage which ages your skin by breaking down the collagen in your skin.  What exactly are free radicals?  Dr. Leslie Baumann very succinctly explains what free radicals are:

So just what is a free radical? In a nutshell, it’s an oxygen molecule that has been stripped of one of its electrons … meaning that it’s on the hunt for replacement electrons. As a result of that hunt, free radicals attack vital skin components like collagen, resulting in skin aging.

So what is the solution to all this free radical damage?  Antioxidants – applied topically in skincare products and consumed in foods.  What are antioxidants?  Once again I’ll quote Dr. Leslie Baumann:

Antioxidants calm free radicals by delivering the electrons they seek – and as a result, they also stave off free radicals’ aging effects. Get them through your diet (through green tea, dark chocolate, and lots of fruits and veggies, particularly berries and pomegranates) or topically with skin-care ingredients like coenzyme Q10, green tea, coffeeberry, and idebenone.

Antioxidants do even more than what is mentioned above.  For a more comprehensive look at how antioxidants help your skin please see my post:  Skincare Tip: Add Antioxidants to Your Home Skincare Regime.

The bottom line is this – while we can try to cut down on our carbon footprint by leading environmental friendly lives our skin and our health is still being affected daily by both indoor and outdoor pollution.  Protect yourself by eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables and protect your skin by applying a topical antioxidant serum every morning after you cleanse your face but before applying your moisturizer, sunscreen, and make-up. 

Some of my favorite antioxidant serums:

 

Sources and Further Reading:

 

For more of my posts on skincare and make-up please visit my blog:  Ask an Esthetician

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