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Air pollution & its impact on our skin

Author: Jake Holyoak
by Jake Holyoak
Posted: Nov 22, 2017

On first thought, you might think that air pollution primarily impacts the lungs, as we breathe in the toxins pumped out by industry and transport. While this is largely true, continued exposure to pollution can have an impact on other areas of our body — including our skin.

Air pollution in UK cities

It’s no secret that air pollution is a problem in the UK. At one point in 2017, air pollution in London was higher than that of Bejing, while other reports suggest that by January 5th 2017, London had already hit its annual air pollution limits — just five days into the new year.

However, on a global scale, London is not even close to being the worst offender — according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), London has the 1,389th worst air pollution level. The majority of the worst offenders were in Asia, with just four out of 632 Asian cities below the WHO’s recommended 10?g/m3 guideline.

So which UK cities are the worst offenders? Suprisingly, based on 2013 figures, Glasgow is actually the UK’s most polluted city, followed by London, Scunthorpe and Leeds. However, given the age of this data — and the increase in media coverage around London’s air pollution — we can assume that there has been some fluctuations in these rankings.

The impact on our skin

Just what impact does this high level of air pollution have on our skin? Our skin is absorbent, which means it acts as a sponge not just to lotions, moisturisers and the stuff we want it to absorb, but also to harmful toxins.

Because there is a one to one million ratio of visible to non-visible particles, your skin is susceptible to a range of pollutants — and the effects are numerous.. Exposed for a few hours, Vitamin E in your skin can reduce by as much as a quarter. Likewise, pigmentation spots can increase by 20%.

This all happens because the tiny chemical and dust particles are small enough to pass through the skin via pores. While some will move to the epidermis, other particles will actually block pores, leading to dull, oily skin and even inflammation.

For those who suffer from eczema, studies have shown that higher levels of air pollution can irritate eczema. For example, a study in Germany found that children who live closer to a main road with heavy traffic are more likely to suffer from eczema. Many believe that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found within the pollution damage the skin, allowing more water to be lost. Increased skin dryness can worsen the symptoms of eczema.

While governments concentrate of implementing strategies to reduce air pollution within cities, what can you do to protect your skin and minimise the impact the pollutants can have?

[Insert section about Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant and link to Pure Beauty]


About the Author

Jake Holyoak Digital Marketing Executive Mediaworks

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Author: Jake Holyoak

Jake Holyoak

Member since: Aug 23, 2017
Published articles: 25

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