Air pollution is regarded as the biggest environmental health risk by the World Health Organization (WHO). Extensive research has linked air pollution with numerous negative effects on human health with a recent focus driven in the direction of its impact on the skin. The largest organ that is directly at the interface with the environment. The rising concern has led to development of specific skincare products and the rise of anti-pollution skincare.
Most common skin pollutants
Pollutants are commonly divided as: particulate matter, ozone, tobacco smoke, black carbon, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. Particulate matters (PM) are a variety of liquid and solid, both organic and inorganic compounds, regarded as very potent skin pollutants.
These compounds are believed to be key players in the three mechanisms of adverse action of PM on skin health: a) generation of free radicals, b) inflammation cascade induction, c) skin barrier impairment. Long-term exposures to air pollution can lead to skin conditions such as: eczema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and skin aging.
Air pollution leads to serious skin issues
A study performed in urban parts of China, more specifically a comparison between two cities, one with higher levels of air pollution and one with lower levels. Results showed that people who were exposed to a more severe aerial pollution presented an increased severity of eight major skin signs.
This evaluation was performed by a panel of professionals. They used specific imaging and photography techniques to assess signs of aging. On the other hand, a naïve panel, nonprofessionals, were given facial images, under blind conditions, to evaluate the appearance of studied subjects. They concluded that the facial appearance of people from a higher polluted area, were less radiant, duller, less healthy. They were perceived as older (a higher difference between their actual age) than their counterparts in the lower polluted area.
Anti-pollution skincare ingredients
This is where science and skincare industry are joining hands in search for innovative ingredients to help protect the skin from the effects of environmental pollution. Some of the most common anti-pollution skincare ingredients are naturally and/or organically derived.
Plant derivatives, snail mucus, marine algae, antioxidants and probiotics and their compounds have been reported to improve skins defensive mechanisms against pollution.
One of the newest promising ingredients include metabiotics, a diverse group of probiotic derived ingredients. These hardworking molecules have an:
Antioxidant effect-helps protect the skin form environmental irritants
Antiinflamatory effect- help calm and soothe the skin
Repair effect- help restore and fortify the skin barrier.
This is definitely a skincare branch which is yet to rise to its full potential.