The Impact of Pollution on the Skin
Our skin is the biggest organ in the body and our environmental surroundings play a huge role in how it behaves. From UV rays, hot or cold weather and the climate to pollutants, our skin is susceptible to environmental stress and damage we may not even be aware of.
Simply put, pollution is a contamination of the natural environment — both indoors as well as outdoors. It happens in different forms, including air, water, soil, heat and light, and noise. Air pollution is the most common of all that affects the skin.
It is important to ensure your skincare routine protects your skin from everyday stressors which are a part of urban life. One of the many factors skin has to contend with are air pollutants known as particulate matter (PM) and this includes different types (some solid, some liquid) such as soot, dust or smoke or even smaller specs, which cannot be seen by the naked eye.
Aside from leaving the surface of your skin feeling dirty, some chemicals attached to pollution particles can penetrate through the skin’s layers and cause so-called oxidative stress which can weaken the skin’s barrier and trigger inflammation. If your exposure to these particles is high and your skin isn’t protected this can result in skin pigmentation problems, and uneven skin tone, and dullness, as well as the formation of wrinkles – all signs of premature skin aging. People with sensitive skin types, as well as those suffering from inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema, are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution as they have a compromised skin barrier to start with, making it even more essential to ensure your skin is protected. How to protect your skin from pollution?
Small nanoparticles in the form of dirt, dust or soot can enter and negatively impact your skin cells causing premature aging in a procedure called oxidation. Additionally, gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide can harm our skin. Our skin serves as a natural barrier against external factors and while it succeeds at keeping most things out, it’s not totally impenetrable. Pollution hurts your skin’s barrier function by breaking down collagen and the lipids contained within it. Studies have shown that women who live in urban areas have skin that is up to 10 percent older than that of women who don’t live in urban areas. Additionally, pollution can reason irritation, rashes and breakouts, particularly peaks in pollution. Dirt particles can accumulate on the skin’s surface which can clog pores when they mix with your skin cells and oils.