Pollution is a main cause of premature skin aging, and something that affects both city dwellers and countryside dwellers alike. Numerous dermatology studies have shown that exposure to air and particle pollution significantly correlates to an increase in signs of skin aging. What’s worse, pollution is insidious in nature with most pollution particles being 20-40 times smaller than our pores. This makes it extremely easy for pollution particles to enter our pores and settle deep down in our skin to wreak all kinds of havoc. In today’s post I’m breaking down the worst type of pollutants for our skin and ways to avoid them, effective anti pollution ingredients including up-and-coming ones and the best anti pollution skincare products that are natural and organic.
Studies on the Effects of Pollution on Skin
It was only in 2010 that dermatologists published some of the first research suggesting that pollutants might contribute to skin aging. In this study, groups of women of similar ages were compared, and findings showed that the women living in more heavily-polluted towns had more wrinkles and sunspots. In the beginning people were dismissive, believing only those who live in the world’s most polluted cities are affected. As the years went by, we began to understand that it isn’t just big city people who are affected – the problem is low-level, chronic exposure.
There are now numerous studies that have confirmed that a range of air pollutants speed up wrinkle and dark spot development. Some studies compare real people and others use exposed skin tissue models to pollutants similar to what might be in the air.
Scientists now have a better understanding of how pollutants cause wrinkles and sunspots to develop. Research suggests that pollution particles activate enzymes in skin that degrade collagen. Consequently, wrinkles form. Pollution causes free radicals to form in the skin (free radicals are highly-reactive molecules that cause damage by stealing electrons off DNA, proteins, cell membranes etc). Melanin-producing cells are reactive to free radicals leading to hyperpigmentation and sunspots.
There’s also research that indicates that UV exposure combined with air pollution can exacerbate one another and cause more damage than either alone.
Types of Pollution That Affect Skin
These are the three types of pollution that impact our skin the most:
- Ground-Level Ozone: a colorless gas that forms on the Earth’s surface
- Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons or PAHs: chemicals formed by the burning of oil, gas, and coal
- Particulate Matter: small particles of pollution that float in the air
Particulate matter is the worst of the three as it’s the pollutant with the most studies showing damage and pigmentation to the skin.
Particulate matter are tiny pieces of metal under 0.2mg that are able to penetrate through the skin pores and travel into the lower layers. There they can wreak all kinds of havoc including inflammation and DNA and cellular damage.
How to Fight Pollution for Skin Health
Here are some easy ways to mitigate the effects of pollution on your skin. First, try and limit your exposure. Choose less busy roads over the high-traffic ones.
You could also invest in an air purifier at home if you don’t already have one to fight indoor pollution.
In terms of what you can do skincare-wise, keep in mind these anti-pollution skincare methods:
- Double cleanse, even triple cleanse, every evening to remove daily pollution
- A cleanser with acids will help remove pollution
- Use an exfoliant to detoxify pores and prevent the adherence of pollutants to skin
- Create layers of skincare with multiple serums and a moisturizer to keep small particles on top of the skin and prevent makeup penetration
- Use plenty of antioxidant-rich skincare
- Wear SPF as a protective shield from particles
Best Anti-Pollution Ingredients
A copper-rich pollution magnet and heavy metal scavenger
The porosity helps to draw pollutants and toxins out of the skin.
Algae and Kelp
Kelp helps move toxins through the body,
Vitamins C, A and E
Antioxidants fight free radicals brought about by pollution
Chinese herbs like ginseng, sumac, gotu kola, dong quai, watercress, and jiogulan help detoxify
Green Tea and White Tea
Both are excellent at fighting oxidative stress
Lutein shields skin from atmospheric pollutants and heavy metals. It also has a “polymer matrix” that blocks the penetration of environmental oxides.
Zeolites are a nanoporous material that’s being studied for their ability to absorb toxins and prevent heavy metal penetration. There is some preliminary data from Italy and Switzerland.
Best Organic Anti Pollution Skincare Products
First of all, a product does not need to be labeled “anti-pollution” for it to fight against environmental damage and the effects of pollution on skin. Some of the skincare products you own most likely already help fight pollution. But, skincare brands do create products that are specifically formulated to combat environmental damage. This is especially helpful for those of us who live in highly congested metropolitan areas or big cities with notoriously high levels of pollution. Check out small handful of the best natural and organic anti-pollution skincare products in clean beauty.
- An anti pollution organic face oil
- Red Algae Astaxanthin an amazing antioxidant shown to be more effective than Vitamin C at helping skin protect itself against environmental damage and free radicals.
- Plant Stem Cells from apples and argan with anti-pollution phytonutrients
- Neroli Flower and Sweet Orange Oils for their antimicrobial properties
- Ingredients: Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera) Oil°°, Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) Seed Oil°°, Pomegranate (Punica granatum) Seed Oil°°, Marula (Sclerocarya birrea) Oil°°, Baobab (Adansonia digitata) Seed Oil°°, Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) Seed Oil°, Sunflower Vitamin E (Tocopherol)°°, Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) Seed Oil°°, Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) Seed Oil°, Borage (Borago officinalis) Seed Oil°, Apple (Malus domestica) Fruit Stem Cell Extract°°, Argan (Argania spinosa) Sprout Stem Cell Extract°°, Red Algae (Haematococcus pluvialis) Astaxanthin Extract°, Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) Peel Oil°, Neroli (Citrus aurantium) Flower Oil°°, Calendula (Calendula officinalis) Flower CO2 Extract°°
- Moringa and coconut carbon eliminate grime, pollution, and bacterial buildup
- Formulated with antioxidant-rich East Asian plants of skullcap root, white peony tea, and licorice
- Made in a base of Organic White Tea Extract
- Ingredients: Camellia sinensis (White Tea)* Extract, Aqua, Vegetable Glycerin*, Scutellaria baicalensis (Skullcap Root), Poria cocos sclerotium (Mushroom) Extract*, Chrysanthemum morifolium Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice Root) Extract*, Moringa oleifera (Moringa Seed) Oil*, Ricinus communis (Castor Seed) Oil*, Sorbitan Oleate^, Coco Glucoside^, Cordyceps militaris Mycelium Extract, Oryza sativa (Rice) Powder, Pteria martensii (Pearl) Powder, Sodium Levulinate^, Sodium Anisate^, Kaolin (Rose Clay), Cetyl Palmitate (Vegetable-Derived), Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Cetearyl Glucoside, Carbon (Activated Charcoal), Chamaecyparis obtusa (Hinoki), Pomegranate Enzyme, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Gluconate, Pinus sylvestris (Pine Leaf) Oil, Abies balsamea (Fir Leaf) Oil, Picea mariana (Black Spruce) Oil*, Xanthan Gum, Limonene**, Geraniol**, Linalool**.
- lightweight moisturizer that provides barrier protection to skin exposed to environmental pollutants
- full of seaweed (2nd on ingredients list), shea butter and omega-rich oils
- Ingredients: Aqua, Algae Extract, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (Vegetable Glycerides), Macadamia Ternifolia (Macadamia) Seed Oil, Sorbitan Olivate (Emulsifier from Olive Oil), Cetearyl Glucoside (Sugar & Coconut Glycolipid), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Simmondsia Chinensis Seed (Jojoba) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, L-Lysine Lauroyl Methionate (Amino Acid from Plants), Xanthan Gum, Laminaria Algae Extract, Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (Natural Smectite Clay), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Glycine
- Discount code OBL saves 10% at OSEA
- Effectively removes toxins and counteracts pollution-induced skin damage
- Kaolin, Mallow Flower, Rice starch, Cucumber Extract, Vitamin B5, Squalane, allantoin
- Ingredients: Aqua, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Oryza Sativa Starch, Kaolin, Zinc Oxide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Squalane, Panthenol, Glyceryl Stearate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Glyceryl Laurate, Mallow Sylvestris Flower Extract, Allantoin, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Parfum, Limonene, Linalool.
- London brand Twelve Beauty ships free from Boxwalla
- Removes daily pollution and debris with lycopene and double encapsulated salicylic acid, vitamin c and oils
- Cloudberry Seed, Guava Seed, Lingonberry, Lycopene, Milk Thistle, Salicylic Acid, Tomato Seed
- Ingredients: Silybum Marianum (Milk Thistle) Seed Oil, Raphanus Sativus (Radish) Seed Oil, Crambe Abyssinica, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Seed Oil, Psidium Guajava Seed Oil, Cloudberry (Rubus Chamaemorus), Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea (Lingonberry) Seed Oil, Chokeberry (Aronia Melanocarpa) Seed Oil, Momordica Cochinchinensis (Gac Seed) Oil, Croton Lechleri Resin Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Polyglyceryl-3 Palmitate, Polyglyceryl-4 Oleate, Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Salicylic Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Lithospermum Erythrorhizon (Gromwell Root Extract), Solanum Lycopersicum (Lycopene) Fruit Extract
- A waterless dry powder cleanser that activates when you add water
- Made of detoxifying dried vegetables and antioxidants like broccoli, camu camu, spirilina, white willow bark, spinach and baobab
- Foaming agent is derived from coconuts
- Ingredients: Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (Coconut), Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Montmorillonite (Green Clay), Spirulina Platensis (Spirulina) Powder*, Azadirachta Indica (Neem) Leaf Extract*, Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach) Leaf Powder*, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract*, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Fruit Extract*, Lycium Barbarum (Goji Berry) Fruit Extract*, Myrciaria Dubia (Camu Camu) Fruit Extract*, Maltodextrin, Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Powder*, Mentha Spicata (Spearmint) Herb Oil*, Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Flower Oil*, Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Flower Oil, D-Limonene, Linalol, Citral, Geraniol, Farnesol
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