Pollution is an ever-present issue in our daily lives, and it affects not only the environment but also our skin. Pollution is the main cause of premature aging and impacts everyone – in the city and countryside. Studies have shown that exposure to air and particle pollution significantly correlates to an increase in signs of aging. Pollution is insidious in nature, with most pollution particles being 20-40 times smaller than our pores. This makes it easy for pollution to enter our pores and settle deep down in our skin to cause all kinds of havoc. Fortunately, there are skincare ingredients that can help combat the effects of pollution on the skin.
In 2010 dermatologists published research suggesting that pollutants might contribute to skin aging. Groups of women of similar ages were compared, and the findings showed that the women living in more heavily polluted towns had more wrinkles and sunspots. Though as years went by, scientists began to understand that it is not just big city people that were affected, the problem is low-level, chronic exposure. It is now understood that pollutants cause wrinkles and sunspots to develop – pollution particles activate enzymes in skin that degrade collagen. If collagen is degraded wrinkles are formed; pollution causes free radicals to form in the skin, and pollutants are highly reactive molecules that cause damage by stealing electrons off DNA, proteins, cell membranes. Melanin-producing cells are reactive to free radicals, leading to hyperpigmentation and sunspots.
What three types of pollution impact our skin the most?
- Ground-Level Ozone, a colorless gas that forms on the Earth’s surface.
- Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons or PAHs, chemicals formed by the burning of oil, gas, and coal.
- Particulate Matter, small particles of pollution that float in the air and particulate matter is the worst of the three as it is the pollutant with the most studies showing damage and pigmentation to the skin.
Ingredients for anti-pollution:
- Malachite – a protective copper complex that boosts cellular defense with powerful antioxidants. It helps detox the skin and brings protection against environmental aggressions and pollution. It is a cooper-rich pollution magnet and heavy metal scavenger.
- Activated Charcoal – the porosity helps to draw pollutants and toxins out of the skin.
- Algae and Kelp – helps move toxins through the body.
- Vitamins C, A and E – Antioxidants fight free radicals brought about by pollution.
- Herbs – like ginseng, gotu kola, ginkgo biloba, dong quai, and watercress help detoxify.
- Green Tea and White Tea – both are excellent at fighting oxidative stress.
- Lutein – shields the skin from atmospheric pollutants and heavy metals. It also has a “polymer matrix” that blocks the penetration of environmental oxides.
- Zeolites – are a nanoporous material that is being studied for their ability to absorb toxins and prevent heavy metal penetration. The absorption properties of zeolites make it a promising ingredient for use in skin care formulations. It can absorb impurities and excess oil from the skin, while providing gentle exfoliation. It is non-toxic and does not cause irritation, making it safe for use on all skin types.
Protect your skin from pollutants and seek out anti-pollution skincare products to help nourish your skin.