Does Pollution Age Your Skin?

Written by Heather HickmanMay 1, 2018

Read time 5 min



We have long known that the three S's – sun, stress and smoking – can prematurely age the skin, but now studies are showing that the very air we breathe ages it too!

Air pollution particles hover in big cities, the countryside and even in homes. Small enough to enter skin, they can accelerate brown spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
Dermalogica's Skin Pollution Index makes it easy to find out how pollution in your area affects your skin. The higher the number, the greater your risk of accelerated skin aging.

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

How? Air pollution contains microscopic contaminants, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which help produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), 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.

The good news is that the skin – when healthy – is a pretty efficient filter of what's good versus what's bad on its own. But there are steps you can take to keep it healthy, smooth and even-toned in the face of pollution:

Do the Dermalogica Double Cleanse.
Using a clean, soft cloth helps get more dirt and grime off your skin, but for a professional level of clean, the Dermalogica Double Cleanse is a must! Start with PreCleanse, rinse, then apply your favorite Dermalogica Cleanser, rinse again, and voilà!

Smooth away the day
Add an anti-pollution powder exfoliant like Daily Superfoliant™ to your evening regimen. It helps detoxify pores and prevent the adherence of skin-aging pollutants for firmer, healthier-looking skin.

Pile on the antioxidants.
In general, pollution weakens your skin. Antioxidants, along with peptides and vitamins, help strengthen the skin and neutralize the primary triggers of skin aging. Look for products that contain ingredients like antioxidant White Tea, as well as microencapsulated vitamins A, C and E (all antioxidants).

Don't forget sunscreen!
Just because you're protecting your skin from pollution doesn't mean you should skimp on sunscreen. UV rays are still a top contributor to signs of skin aging, so wear an SPF30 or higher daily.

Photography: Courtesy of Dermalogica

About Expert
Heather Hickman is a fully qualified skin, spa and body care specialist from London, England. She is CIDESCO and IHBC qualified. Heather has 20 years of experience in the skincare and spa industry as a spa manager and senior educator. She has taught extensively throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia specializing in advanced skin care modalities and techniques. Her experience and expertise have led to her contributing to the design and development of curriculum and operations programs for Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute, including the launch of the Dermalogica Expert Program and D-Streaming. In her current position as Senior Director of USA Education for The International Dermal Institute & Dermalogica at the Corporate Headquarters in Los Angeles, Heather is responsible for the overseeing the US operations, marketing activities and Education Teams for all 18 International Dermal Institute Training Centers. With her extensive knowledge in the dynamics of operation management, skin and body industry, Heather is frequently requested to share her expertise at trade shows and congresses both domestically and internationally and with the various trade publications.
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