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Your Skin Has A New Enemy: Pollution

  • By Marie Reyes
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Your Skin Has A New Enemy: Pollution

At this point, we all know daily SPF is crucial for protecting our skin against the damaging and aging effects of the sun - even when it’s raining or we’re trapped in our indoor cube-prisons - but there’s another element you should be guarding against with equal vigor: pollution.

The increase of air pollution over the years has major effects on the human skin. The skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and environmental air pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), oxides, particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), and cigarette smoke.

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Although human skin acts as a biological shield against pro-oxidative chemical and physical air pollutants, the prolonged or repetitive exposure to high levels of these pollutants may have profound negative effects on the skin.

“Whenever pollution comes in contact with your skin, it goes beyond just the surface,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, NYC-based dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Tiny particles get into the deeper layers of the epidermis, causing inflammation, dehydration, uneven skin tone, dark spots, and wrinkling. Plus, pollution breaks down collagen and the skin's lipid layer, which compromises the barrier function.”

Studies show that urbanites, as opposed to those who live in rural areas, are more likely to develop brown spots and uneven pigmentation - which is not to say that if you don't notice the aforementioned marks, you're in the clear.

“Pollution can damage your skin at any age, even when you're young, because it can cause irritation, pimples, dehydration, and impact radiance,” says Muriel Pujos, director of scientific communication for Philosophy.

What kind of options are we left with then?

“A good strategy is eating highly colored fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and creator of Sea Radiance Skincare, who cites red beans, blueberries, kidney beans, pinto beans, cranberries, artichoke hearts, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries as great options, or a daily antioxidant supplement is another choice.

Head over to this article from The New York Times to review eight suggested products to protect your skin from pollution.

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