Skip to content

Protect Your Skin from Urban Pollution.

As we mentioned in our last blog post we’re aware that pollution wreaks havoc on the environment and it clearly has an effect on our health and well-being. With up to 1,400 chemicals deposited on the skin every day, pollution can be profoundly damaging.

Pollution: a Global Issue.

Over the past decade, we’ve developed a greater understanding of the ways in which our planet is increasingly challenged, from melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, to ozone depletion and disastrous weather patterns, to the omnipresent issue of pollution. Among the earth’s most pressing concerns, pollution affects the quality of life of every living thing, especially in regard to city dwellers.

Statistics on Pollution, Cities, and the Skin.

Accompanied by a satellite image of the human fingerprint on global air quality, a recent NASA report stated that the United States and Europe are the largest emitters of nitrogen dioxide, “a yellow-brown gas that is a common emission from cars, power plants and industrial activity… [which] can quickly transform into ground-level ozone, a major respiratory pollutant in urban smog,” (December, 2015). Only this past summer, London's air-pollution levels surpassed those recorded in Beijing, resulting in the capital's highest-ever air pollution alert. Other cities on the top 150 most polluted list include: Shanghai (#35), Barcelona (#92), Hong Kong (#100), Paris (#108), and Los Angeles (#136).

Studies have found that living in a polluted area ages your skin by over a year once you reach the age of 40. Afterwards, the effects of pollution age the skin by an additional six months per subsequent decade. As Professor Jean Krutmann, director at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Germany, stated inThe Guardian: “UV [damage from the sun] was really the topic in skin protection for the last 20-30 years. Now I think air pollution has the potential to keep us busy for the next few decades,” (July, 2016).

Oxidative Stress and the Skin: More Hard Science.

Both visible particulate matter (dust, for instance) and invisible particulate matter (such as nanoparticles and gases) cause oxidative stress, creating free radicals. However, the human body is not without defenses: it has an antioxidant system, which neutralises free radicals by donating electrons, and a DNA repair system, which repairs mutations. But the ozone in air pollution depletes our antioxidants, specifically in the outermost layer of the epidermis, and a normal skin cell must cope with 10,000 free radical attacks per day. If this sounds like an enormous, never-ending task, that’s because it is! And when the body is overtaxed, the result is oxidative stress, with the resultant skin aging consequences.