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The Effects of Air Pollution on the Skin

As the world is rapidly changing. Cities become more polluted, our bodies, starting with the skin, are under ever greater assault as a result of this pollution and toxic elements. Although human skin acts as a biological shield against pro-oxidative chemicals and physical air pollutants. Furthermore, prolonged or repetitive exposure to high levels of these pollutants does have profound negative effects on the skin.

These pollutants are able to cause damage by increasing oxidative stress. Which counters the immune system of the skin which leads to; skin sensitivity, premature skin aging, discolouration, dryness, dullness, and roughness. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), 92% of city dwellers worldwide live in cities that do not comply with the WHO air quality standards.

Since the skin is the body’s first line of defence. Also, the major contact with the external environment. Let's look at some of the effects of air pollutants on the skin;

Ultraviolet Radiation

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation has been discovered by researchers to be linked to extrinsic skin ageing and skin cancers. In a particular research report, about 80% of skin ageing was concluded to be caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Cigarette Smoke

It has been discovered that smokers skin ages faster than that of nonsmokers. This pollutant hastens premature ageing. Making those that are frequently exposed more prone to psoriasis, acne, eczema and ultimately skin cancers. Cigarette smoke show to consist of over 6,000 chemicals.

Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons

These pollutants are one of the major air pollutants thanks to burning coal, oil, gasoline, trash, tobacco, and wood. They have been discovered to trigger extrinsic skin ageing, pigmentation, cancers and acneiform eruptions. Reduce the burning of woods in the fireplace to decrease indoor exposure. Also, the particles of this pollution are usually too large to penetrate skin themselves, many of the 224 toxic chemicals attached to them are not.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Common VOCs include acetone, benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, toluene and xylene. When we are exposed to organic solvents like paints. Or varnishes, tobacco smoke, benzene, and industrial emission, we are in direct contact with potential organic compound pollutants in the air. They cause atopic dermatitis. Reduction in the use of some products may reduce the indoor threat.

The relationship between air quality and skin conditions

Research shows there is a clear correlation between spikes in air pollution. And increases in the number of people suffering from skin problems such as acne, hives and eczema. It is clear that air pollution is not just affecting the skin on a cosmetic level. But also poses a real threat to skin health. So what are the steps to help protect our skin?
  • Cleansing: A 2-step process or double cleanse. The first cleanse will take off a majority of makeup and dirt. While a second cleanse will remove any remaining makeup, dirt, grime or pollution left on the skin. Using a daily gentle exfoliant such as the Skin Sparkling Sponge will work better than just using your hands to wash your face.
  • Exfoliate: Exfoliating 1-2 times a week will help clear your skin, aid in skin recovery and enables the skin to heal from the ill effects of pollution.
  • Hydration: drinking water and using excellent skin products is key in making sure the skin functions at its best. Also, protecting and strengthening the natural skin barrier.
  • UV Protection: It is still one of the biggest environmental stressors. An SPF product should always be part of the daily skincare routine.
  • Antioxidants: Both topical and oral forms. These include Vitamin A, C, D, B-complex and B3.