Healthy skin is like a lush forest, full of vital trees growing on a fertile and moist soil. Like the trees can be affected by atmospheric pollution, giving dry and spotted leaves, so is the skin. Let’s see why and how to cope with skin ageing and pollution.
In the last couple of centuries, thanks to car exhausts and industrial production, all sorts of substances have started being released in the air we breathe:
- nitrogen oxides (from fossil fuel combustion and fertilisers) leading to ozone
- benzene and other aromatic compounds from fuel combustion
- sulfur dioxide from diesel, fuel and coal combustion
There is a lot of scientific research showing how air pollution affects the respiratory system. Given the increase in respiratory conditions as well as skin conditions, scientists have started to explore also the link between skin conditions and air pollutants.
Skin, ageing and pollution
The skin is the biggest organ in our body and the interface with the external world, offering an area of about 2 square metres (as big as a double bed). The skin is a good barrier generally, however it is not impenetrable, with entry points where pollutants may enter causing side effects such as:
- dry skin and ageing via oxidation of skin lipids by ozone and free radicals
The effects of pollution on skin ageing are best observed and researched on the skin of smokers. For example a study on facial wrinkling in smokers shows that women have two to three fold risk in facial wrinkles, with smoke reducing blood flow in the skin and damaging collagen and elastin.
How you can help your skin
- Minimise pollutants on your skin by using all natural skincare avoiding petrochemicals such as petrolatum, mineral oil and silicones. This will also be good for the environment because all natural skincare is biodegradable.
- Apply antioxidant skin care products to fight the damaging effects of free radicals
- Regularly cleanse and gently exfoliate the skin to remove pollutants and oxidised lipids from the top layers of the skin
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit rich in vitamin C