The cutaneous membrane aka the skin is the largest organ of the human body. This tough and waterproof shield, among other things, protects us from pathogens, regulates body temperature, and prevents water loss. Although it’s usually described as a super organ, the skin is very susceptible to environmental factors. Everybody knows that the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays can lead to skin cancer, but there’s something less conspicuous and obvious that affects the skin: air pollution. It can cause numerous skin conditions, some of which aren’t purely aesthetic.
When it comes to air pollution, people mainly think of smog, exhaust fumes from cars, or industrial combustion emissions. All this makes the air in urban areas highly polluted, which means that it contributes to several very unpleasant, and sometimes potentially serious, health issues. The most common pollutants include carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM). According to a research study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, air pollution causes 200,000 premature deaths a year in the U.S. alone, and car emissions are the highest contributor to this bleak statistics, leading to 53,000 deaths. It’s self-explanatory that something so toxic also has a negative impact on the skin. Premature ageing is one of most widespread consequences of outdoor air pollution, and it’s characterised by triggering the onset of wrinkles and age spots. Pollutants enter the body through the pores and follicle bulbs, and they reach deeper layers of the skin where they lead to inflammation and damaged collagen, thus causing skin laxity, dehydration, loss of elasticity, clogged pores, dullness, dryness, acne, eczema, allergies, and rashes.
Indoor pollution is usually underestimated, as people are unaware that it can have equally detrimental effects on the skin. A portion of indoor pollution comes from the outside, but other factors such as wood-burning heaters, mould, or tobacco smoke can also significantly pollute the air. Natural air pollutants such as radon, and chemical pollutants from building materials, as well as those evaporating from various cleaning products also shouldn’t be forgotten. According to the California Air Resource Board, indoor levels of certain pollutants such as formaldehyde, chloroform, or styrene are 2-50 times higher than outside levels. If we bear in mind that an average person spends almost 90% of their time indoors, it’s clear that indoor air pollution plays an equally important role in skin health, and that’s why improving air quality is essential. Getting an air cleaner is a good investment, but if you want to be sure that you’ll spend your money on a device that will be efficient, check out some air purifier reviews.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t completely protect your skin from outside pollutants, so it’s crucial to learn how to reduce their damaging effects.
● Wearing sunscreen is a must, and not only in the summer.
● Boost your immune system by sticking to a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, as they’re packed with vitamins and antioxidants to protect your skin from outside elements and reduce wrinkles.
● Proper hydration is of vital importance for keeping your skin youthful, not to mention that it will help flush toxins out of your body.
● Stick to a regular beauty routine, and always cleanse your face when you get home, as well as before you go to bed. Use moisturisers to keep your skin fresh. Exfoliate your skin once a week to de-clog pores and remove impurities from them.
● As for creams, opt for those containing collagen and elastin, because they can help the skin regenerate and rejuvenate.
Although air pollution is among the most powerful skin damaging agents, its impact can be reduced by minimising your exposure to pollutants whenever possible, using air purifiers, and taking care of your skin.