Are you suffering from sensitivity, maybe even acne inflammation?
Or maybe you’re concerned about dark brown spots or white patches?
Or fine lines and visible signs of premature ageing showing way before their time?
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 groundbreaking 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, who have been significantly exposed to increased pollution suffer accelerated skin ageing.
What am I protecting my skin from?
- industrial gasses
- 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 cause 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 millimetre.
Studies suggest that PM 2.5 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 your dermis, where cellular processes that allow our skin cells to divide 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; whilst you can protect your skin from UV damage in the form of sunscreen, it’s unfortunately not effective against pollution.
However, carefully-formulated products with clever ingredients such as Vitamin A and antioxidants will help protect and repair your skin from oxidative damage caused by environmental stressors.
A+ Retinoid Complex, infused with antioxidants, is formulated to reverse signs of ageing caused by pollution and UV, whilst also intensely hydrating and boosting your skin cell’s metabolism.
Bio Lipid Complex, a concentrated, luscious serum, is the ultimate skin repair, renewal, and protection treatment; designed to restore an impaired barrier and protect against invisible environmental aggressors.
Skin conditions triggered by pollution
With all the research we have done on the skin over the years, we 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 several pre-existing skin conditions:
Studies have found that high levels of volatile organic compounds and solvents in the atmosphere can create eczematous conditions. For this reason, 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 pigment on areas of your skin.
What does this all mean for my skin?
Skin ageing: Pollution inhibits the protective effects of antioxidants, making harmful damage inevitable and irreversible once the process has started. Manifesting itself as 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 your skin contains lipids that bind skin cells together; ozone oxidizes these lipids, impairing the barrier’s protective role, which can lead to a lack of moisture and the inability to eliminate toxins from the skin, along with increased dehydration.
Inflammation: The signs of skin ageing are secondary to UV radiation and environmental pollutants, which are often associated with inflammatory changes in your skin.
Identifying pollution damage
When we treat clients in the clinic, we always carry out a detailed facial analysis. This helps us build up a history of triggers and relieving factors.
Below we have listed the consultation questions we use, 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 on 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 as well as just focusing on your face, as often these areas suffer repeated exposure to the effects of environmental pollutants.
What can I do to pollution-proof my routine?
So, what is the answer? Short of upping sticks to a skin-friendly greenbelt area that is? And whilst that may be tempting for some, it’s not very practical for most. Fortunately, there’s an entirely new category of anti-pollution skincare that might save your skin.
To recap, it’s the ozone-sebum interaction that creates the toxic molecules which seep through the skin, but 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 it’s dealing with an onslaught of pollution, so don’t over-exfoliate or use peels 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 skin’s 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 GLO 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.
Sunscreen: This is fundamental in providing a physical barrier, to prevent UVA and UVB radiation coming into contact with your skin.
Inside out: Fight free radical damage with antioxidants, Vitamins A, C and E and supplements that contain lycopene and beta-carotene.
To conclude, it should come as no surprise to find that pollution protection is important when it comes to skin health, especially when you consider all of the different factors that affect our skin as discussed above.
We often find our clients forget that the main goal of their skin is to keep things out of the body; it is 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.
For your skin to be in a balanced state, you should know your skin is gently influenced by ingredients that support its own environment. When it comes to your products, 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 we 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 your skin health.