- Papules or pustules?
- Sensitivity or inflammation?
- Pigmentation in the form of dark or white patches?
- Fine lines and visible signs of premature ageing?
If that sounds like you, then chances are you could be suffering from toxic skin syndrome.
According to the latest study, if you live in a polluted city you can expect to look a year older by the time you are 40.
A ground breaking 24 year study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, compared women living in both urban and rural environments.
It was found that those living in urban areas that have been significantly exposed to increased pollution, suffer accelerated skin ageing.
WHAT AM I PROTECTING MY SKIN FROM?
- Industrial gas
- Power plants
- Motor vehicles
- Construction sites
- Chemical dust from buildings
- Combustion of fossil fuels like diesel
- Ozone, the toxic gas formed when UV light hits mono-nitrogen oxides (combustion exhaust), is suspected to be a primary causes of pollution-related skin damage
All of the above creates pollution most notably in the form of PM 2.5, which has a tiny diameter, equal to one 400th of a square millimeter.
Studies suggest that PM 2 sticks to your skin, where the chemicals mix with sebum to create an invisible toxic film over the epidermis.
The minuscule size means it can seep into the dermis, where cellular processes that allow our skin cells to divide in order to grow and repair, become severely impaired.
This path of destruction is also driven by oxidative stress, the formation of free radicals and MMP activation.
The effect of this pollution is further amplified, by the presence of other environmental factors such as UV radiation.
And whilst you can protect your skin from UV damage in the form of sunscreen, unfortunately it’s not effective against pollution.
SKIN CONDITIONS TRIGGERED BY POLLUTION
With all the research I have done on skin over the years, I have to say, it’s almost as if pollution were specifically designed to injure our skin.
Not only does it impact skin ageing, but it can trigger a number of pre-existing skin conditions:
Studies have found that high levels of volatile organic compounds and solvents in the atmosphere, can create eczematous conditions.
This is why a good eczema treatment plan, should also revolve around reducing one’s exposure to harmful environmental triggers.
Environmental pollution can trigger an acne variant known as chloracne or halogen acne.
This form of acne becomes apparent after direct contact with certain halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons in the environment, which are thought to include polychlorinated compounds, such as herbicides.
Occupational leukoderma is often referred to as occupational vitiligo.
Basically exposure to certain environmental chemicals can have a destructive effect on melanocytes, which leads to loss of areas of skin pigment.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR SKIN
Skin ageing: Pollution inhibits the protecting effects of antioxidants, making harmful damage inevitable and irreversible once the process has started. Manifesting itself in the loss of elasticity, firmness and volume, which can lead to premature ageing.
Altered pigmentation: This type of ageing in combination with toxic chemicals, can lead to changes in skin appearance, texture and pigmentation.
Impaired barrier function: The outer layer of our skin contains lipids that bind our skin cells together, ozone oxidizes these lipids impairing the barriers protective role, which leads to a lack of moisture and the inability to eliminate toxins.
Inflammation: The signs of skin ageing are secondary to UV radiation and environmental pollutants, which are often associated with inflammatory changes in the skin.
IDENTIFYING POLLUTION DAMAGE
When I treat clients I carry out a facial analysis, this helps me build up a history of triggers and relieving factors.
I’ve listed the consultation questions I use below, which you can use to see if a pattern emerges with your skin, in association with environmental changes:
- Have you had any pre-existing conditions such as eczema or acne?
- Is your level of skin ageing consistent with your age?
- Do you suffer from wrinkle formation and volume loss?
- Are there any white or brown patches on your skin?
- What is your level of sun exposure and protection?
- Do you live in the city or by a busy road?
- What is your exposure to chemical toxins?
- Is your skin condition localised or global?
- Do symptoms only flare up at work?
- Are your symptoms seasonal?
- What is your skin texture like?
It may also be useful to EXAMINE your HANDS and NECK, rather than just focusing on your face.
As often these AREAS suffer repeated EXPOSURE to the effects of environmental POLLUTANTS.
POLLUTION PROOF YOUR ROUTINE
So what is the answer? Short of upping sticks to a skin-friendly greenbelt area that is.
Whilst it may be tempting, it’s not very practical for most.
Fortunately there’s an entirely new category of ANTI POLLUTION skincare that might just SAVE your SKIN.
To recap, it’s the ozone-sebum interaction that creates the toxic molecules, which seep through the skin.
The good news is, you can FIGHT this interaction with the following approach:
Cleanse: Subverting air toxins can be as simple washing your face with the right cleanser. The first step in protection is using an antioxidant rich formula, that will remove the invisible film of toxic pollutants gathered over the day. Our miracle cleanse is the real star of the show when it comes to mopping up free radicals and pollution residue.
Exfoliate: Hydroxy acids like glycolic or salicylic will remove pollution residue from the pores, encouraging new skin cells to the surface. But remember your skin is a barrier especially when its dealing with an onslaught of pollution, so don’t over exfoliate especially if you have a thin, sensitive skin, as it could leave your skin vulnerable.
Moisturise: You need to stimulate the growth of proteins to strengthen your skins barrier and acid mantle. A good formula containing skin identical ingredients such as ceramides and lipids, will help bring your skin back into balance.
Layer: To fight the bombardment of chemicals and strengthen your skin, layer under your moisturiser with ACE antioxidant complex to deliver concentrated levels of antioxidants. You can also counteract dehydration from pollution and moisturise the deeper layers with humectants, such as hyaluronic and urea.
Inside out: Fight free radical damage with antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E and supplements that contain lycopene and beta carotene.
On a final note
I often find my clients forget that the main goal of our skin is to keep things out of the body, it’s an immune barrier.
If you have a compromised barrier function, the cement between the bricks is obviously going to let tiny particles like PM2, microbes and allergens in. Therefore repair should be your first line of defence.
THE NAKED TRUTH
So not surprising, that pollution protection is important when it comes to skin health.
For your skin to be in a balanced state, you should know your skin is gently influenced by ingredients that support its own environment.
I feel it is less about price point and more about the chemical and physical properties of a product, which greatly influence the integrity, regeneration and preservation of your skin.
This is why I believe that your choice of products should mimic the physical structures of your skin, and contain appropriate active agents such as ceramides and humectants, that will support your skin in reactivating its own regeneration capability.
The Naked Chemist range of products, are designed to resemble the membrane structure of your skin.
That is both preventative and supportive to an existing problem, specifically designed to improve skin health.