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Can Pollution Affect Your Skin?

So many things can affect the way your skin looks. 

What you eat, the skincare products you use, prescription drugs and supplements, the sun, and of course genetics. But have you ever thought about pollution? 

What is pollution?

The word pollution may bring images to your mind. Maybe you see a factory with a huge smokestack expelling a thick plume of gray smoke. Or perhaps you picture traffic, with the cars backed up bumper to bumper, their exhausts blowing out fumes. Others might think of landfills or trash in the ocean. 

Pollution comes from the word pollute, which Merriam Webster defines as:

1 : to make ceremonially or morally impure or using language to deceive or mislead 

2 : to make physically impure or unclean : to contaminate (an environment) especially with man-made waste

Pollution itself is the action of polluting, especially by environmental contamination with man made waste. Pollution can be a substance; solid, liquid, or gas. It can also be in the form of energy, such as radioactivity, heat, sound, or light. All of these things have the potential to affect the health of humans, animals, and the environment as a whole. 

Pollution can also occur on a large level, such as through factories or traffic, but we also have many pollutants within our own home. If you smoke or live with smokers, you are dealing with a dangerous form of pollution. Everyday things such as cooking using certain fuels or using certain products can cause pollution in our homes. Even dust can be considered in-home pollution. 

Airborne pollutants are a growing threat that has known effects on respiratory and cardiovascular health. But it can also cause problems for the largest organ of our body… the skin.

What Pollution Can Do to the Skin

There hasn’t been a lot of research on the effects of pollutants on the skin, possibly because most people just assume that if it affects our insides, it surely affects our outsides. But science is working to pinpoint some of the exact effects on human skin and hair that can be caused by airborne pollutants. 

One scientific review looked at clinical effects of pollutants on skin health, aging, and the impact on chronic inflammatory skin diseases. Pollution can penetrate the deep layers of the skin by touch or even from the inside, through the blood. The review concluded that both outdoor and indoor pollution were found to enhance the effects of aging by causing wrinkles on the face and the hands. Living in a polluted environment may also reduce skin moisture, increase the rate of sebum excretion (which can lead to acne) and may intensify the symptoms of chronic inflammatory skin diseases.

Our skin’s job is to be a barrier against these external contaminants and it does keep most things out, but since it’s porous, things do get through. Nanoparticles in the form of dirt, dust or soot can enter your body, as can gasses such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. These can break down collagen and the lipids (fats) within your skin. This can cause irritation, rashes, and breakouts. Dirt can also accumulate on the surface, clogging pores. 

Protecting Skin from Pollution

Unfortunately, we can’t totally escape pollution because so much of it is out of our control. But there are things that we can do to minimize skin issues that are caused by pollutants.

Cleansing

Cleansing is the most obvious and possibly the most important part of removing airborne pollutants from the surface of the skin. Experts recommend using micellar water to attract the dirt and dust and then following up with an old fashioned cleanser. It’s best to physically wash your face by splashing water on, cleansing with a quality product, and then rinsing it off. Only using wipes and not rinsing will leave dirt and dead skin sitting on the surface. Cleansing twice per day is the ideal practice.

Antioxidants 

Antioxidants don’t get much credit but they do so much for our overall health. Their job is to attach to free radicals that are floating around our body or sitting on our skin, working to neutralize them so that they don’t cause harm. Free radicals are caused by pollutants and can lead to inflammation, irritation, illness or even cancer. 

You can get more antioxidants into your body by eating healthy foods, particularly plant based foods such as fruits and vegetables. There are also supplements you can take that can give your body a boost if you don’t eat enough of those things. Qyral can customize an antioxidant packed supplement made for your exact needs!

You can also use skincare products containing antioxidants, such as vitamins C, A, and E. All of these help your body counteract free radicals stemming from pollution.

Moisturizer

A good moisturizer will work to add moisture into your skin and lock it in. But it also provides protection by acting as a barrier. Instead of being absorbed, pollutants will sit on top of the barrier. This also makes it easier to remove those pollutants after a long day.

Not only does moisturizer serve as a barrier, but it helps to strengthen the natural barrier of your skin. The more armor you have, the better off you’ll be. 

Sunscreen

Using sunscreen is kind of a no-brainer, but we can’t stress its importance enough! 

Although UV rays are not man made pollution, the pollution that man has caused has broken down our environment, making UV rays stronger and more dangerous. Excessive sun exposure can cause oxidative stress which leads to free radicals. The best practice is to just protect yourself by using sunscreen daily. And don’t forget to continually reapply it!

Quality Products Made Just for You!

Good skincare is key to protecting yourself from pollutants that could cause lasting damage. By taking Qyral’s personalized skin assessment, we can determine what ingredients your body needs to counteract any pollution that might be a part of your environment. We have a full line of products containing ingredients that not only protect, but encourage your best skin!

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