A city girl's guide to the effects of pollution on our skin

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Sun stress and smoking can visibly age the skin and are well known as the 3 S’s to avoid. But how much do you know about air pollution and how it’s been affecting your skin?

Air particles are small enough to enter the skin and wreak havoc with our epidermis. The molecular structure of our skin is fragile and not meant to be tampered with, oxygen and carbon dioxide, among other less harmless gasses in small quantities are normal for our skin to come into contact with. However over such a short space of time since air pollution has evolved into the monstrous unshakeable smog we see today, our skin has not had time to evolve to block these toxic chemicals from entering the skin, nor should it realistically have to; we shouldn’t be treating our planet like this in the first place. 

What causes air pollution?

As you would expect, pollution of the air comes in all forms of hot smelly thick musks, for example traffic fumes, factories and industrial buildings, trains above or below ground still affect the air we breath, offices and shopping centres, all burning a substantial amount of gas everyday and pumping it into our atmosphere. Similar to UV rays from the sun and how you can’t see the affects on your skin, you wouldn't know it was happening if we didn’t experience the repercussions. 

How does air pollution affect our skin?

According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, exposure to air and particle pollution significantly correlates to increased signs of skin ageing.

How? Air pollution contains microscopic contaminants, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which help produce Reactive Oxygen Species, or "free radicals." These strip the skin of barrier lipids, which help retain moisture and keep out dirt and other impurities. A compromised skin barrier can lead to increased skin sensitivity, discomfort and premature signs of skin aging, especially pigmentation issues.

Air pollution is one of the biggest skin aggressors we face today and the predominant side effect is visible signs of early ageing in the form of brown spots, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles.

How can we combat the effects of air pollution on our skin?

Air pollution is real, we experience it every day and some places around the world have it worse than others. City’s smoggy skyline won’t be resolved with a serum or moisturiser added to your regime but it will certainly help your skin. 

Beauty and skincare specialist Dr Barbara Sturm believes, “To be effective, any anti-pollution product needs to contain (or be coupled with) UV protection – plus ingredients that are able to hydrate, strengthen and protect the natural skin barrier, bind to and neutralise heavy metals, combat inflammation, and deliver the right antioxidants in the required concentration and form to combat free-radical destruction of cells.”

If you think your skin could benefit from some next level care then you need the Dr Barbara Sturm’s Discovery Set, which includes anti-pollution drops, to be used in conjunction with two other serums for the best pollution fighting complexion you could ever wish for.

Latest update: 17/03/2021
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