We're all familiar with the term pollution and the destruction it's causing to our planet but how many of us actually stop and think about the effects of modern day pollution to our skin? What damage is it doing and how does this present itself in our appearance.
Did you know that 91% of the global population live in places where air quality exceeds the WHO guideline limits? Would you be surprised if I told you that there is air pollution even in the countryside?
The levels of pollution varies from area to area. For instance, a smoker that lives/works in a busy city such as London, the pollution levels would be far higher and their skin would be at a greater risk of premature skin ageing than say a smoker that lived and worked in the countryside.
A great way to check the pollution levels where you live or work is to use this widget from Dermalogica! Simply type in your location and it will give you a real-time reading of your skin pollution index!
The higher the number, the higher the risk. For instance, today in Malmesbury (where I live) the skin pollution index is 29 which is considered a moderate risk.
In skincare, when we talk about air pollution we use the term 'free radicals'.
Free radicals are tiny pollution particles that attach themselves to our skin as we go about our daily lives. These pollution particles then work their way in to our skins deeper layers and begin to oxidise the surrounding tissues and lipids. This will compromise our skin health and we will begin to see premature signs of ageing.
So what are the biggest types of free radicals we encounter on a daily basis that have a negative impact on our skin? Some are obvious but some may surprise you! Check out this list below and check off how many you come across in your day to day
Particulate matter - solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air such as dust, soot, smoke or dirt.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) - found in car exhaust fumes, forest fires, residual wood burning and cigarette smoke.
Nitrogen dioxide - found in traffic fumes, cigarette smoke and cooking with gas appliances.
Volatile Organic Compounds - found in household products, car exhausts and stored fuels.
Blue light - emitted from smartphones, smart TVs, computer screens and tablet screens.
Who would of thought too much Hinching could lead to more wrinkles! Ok, so now we have identified the free radicals in our daily environment, how does this impact our skin? As we talked about earlier, these pollutants attach themselves to our skin and break down our natural collagen and elastin fibres leading to premature ageing. You may notice the following changes in your skin
Lines and wrinkles
Sensitivity and redness
Oiliness and breakouts
Age spots and hyperpigmentation (brown patches of pigmentation)
Scary right?! There are a number of things we can do to limit our exposure to pollutants and decrease the risk of damage to our skin. Have a think about how many car journeys you make in a day or even per week, could you reduce that and walk instead to limit exposure to car exhaust fumes? If you need to refuel your car, consider doing it in the evening when its cooler and less UV from the sun.
While wood burners and open fireplaces look gorgeous in our homes and create an inviting ambience pubs/restaurants, the PAH they emit can be harmful to your skin. Put down the cigarettes!
We are all guilty of spending way too much of our time scrolling on social media and binge watching an addictive tv series on Netflix so to avoid damage from blue light, use a physical SPF which filters blue light as well as UVA/UVB, such as Invisible Physical Defence by Dermalogica.
There are a number of hero skincare ingredients which naturally fight against pollutants. Keep a look out for products containing these ingredients
Activated Binchotan Charcoal - absorbs pollutants by binding itself to the toxins, allowing them to be easily removed. It also resurfaces and fights ageing.
Niacinamide - a form of vitamin B. Regulates sebum production which in turn prevents pollutants sticking to the skin. It also has anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Red Algae Extract - helps preserve the skins natural barrier function which inhibits penetration of environmental pollutants.
Vitamin C - powerful antioxidant which protects skin cells from damaging free radicals. It also has a brightening effect.
I am always on hand to provide professional advice and create a bespoke skin care plan just for you! Please just drop me a message!
(images sourced from Google and Dermalogica)