For many people living in towns and cities, pollution is an issue not only creating and aggravating health problems, but also affecting skin quality.

Healthy skin provides a reasonable barrier to airborne toxins, but a daily onslaught of pollutants in the air can not only age skin, but also exasperate conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne.

Air pollution in urban areas comes from traffic in particular. We are exposed to tiny chemical particles including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic particles (VOC) particulate matter and oxides.

Sun, nutrition and smoking all have an impact on ageing but Professor Jean Krutmann, Director at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Germany says: “For the pigment spots on the cheeks, it seems air pollution is the major driver.” (The Guardian 15.7.16)

Zaga Colovic, founder of FOM London Skincare, a specialist company dedicated to anti-pollution skincare, says: “Your skin is your protection and it is the body’s largest organ, as such it is exposed to daily pollution. This simply means all that grime and dirt in the air can cause free radicals to damage skin collagen and elastin. When collagen and elastin break down you get visible signs of ageing and you look older than you are. Other signs of ageing induced by pollution are fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation and dark spots.”

Support healthy skin in pollution defense

Cleanse

Thorough cleansing each night will remove dirt and toxins from the skin’s surface. Many people find a double cleanse first with a cleansing balm or cream cleanser and then a gentle face wash works well for this.

Support & Protect

Antioxidants help neutralize damage generated by pollution, these can include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Resveratol, Lycopene, Grapeseed and Green Tea, to name just a few.

The French skincare brand IXXI have created a patented skincare line with OPC PIN, a powerful antioxidant from Maritime Pine Extract. These products are rich in pine polyphenols which have been proven to be particularly effective against external aggressions that cause skin ageing.

FOM London anti-pollution skincare, uses its hallmark AntioXsilk technology, a combination of the power of silk, the brand’s signature ingredient, with adaptogens and antioxidants, to protect the skin against pollution. Liquid silk acts not only as a skin shield but also works to make skin more resilient by fortifying its natural defence mechanism. This dual action helps prevent toxic particles from entering the skin.

Verso Anti-Pollution is a light mist that prohibits metals and gases from penetrating the skin, this has a metal-binding polymer and effective antioxidants. Lars Fredriksson, founder of Verso Skincare says: “An effective way to keep your skin clean is to use an Anti Pollution. It adds a protective shield that prevents microparticles from entering the skin and makes the particles easy to wash away.”

Mádara products include SMART antioxidants providing an antioxidant complex in the form of Lichen, Moss, Fern and Alchemilla. Mádara Anti-Pollution CC Cream SPF 15 and Mádara Plant Stem Cell Age Protecting Sunscreen - SPF 30 help correct all skin tone imperfections, including dullness, redness, sallowness and dark spots. The formulas are scientifically proven to shield your skin from urban pollutants to protect skin microbiome, prevent clogged pores and inflammation.

Diet

A diet rich in foods that provide natural antioxidants will help protect us from free radical damage that is particularly prevalent when there are toxins in the air.

Colourful foods such as peppers, berries, grapes, sweet potato, squash, carrots, kale and watercress, green tea, dark chocolate (70% at least). Spices and herbs such as turmeric, oregano, ginger and rosemary are all amazing foods to keep skin healthy and reduce the impact of environmental damage.

Also natural plant oils such as flax, olive oil and rapeseed oil provide healthy omegas for skin protection and function.

Some other more exotic berries and fruits also offer a wealth of antioxidants such as acerola cherry, acai and goji berries. Algae’s, grasses and greens in many shakes and food based supplements also offer an excellent nutritional profile to support skin health and wellbeing. Chlorella has a wealth of phytonutrients and supports liver function. It is very helpful in removing heavy metals from the body.

Eating foods from organic farming methods will also really help. A healthy diet combined with skincare that offers a high level of protection and repair will go a long way in keeping the adverse effects of pollution at bay.