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Air Pollution and Premature Skin Aging

November 03, 2017

Air Pollution and Premature Skin Aging

For years, we have heard about the negative effects of excessive sun exposure to our skin. While no one can argue the danger of ultraviolet rays, skin protection advocates have a new focus. The dangerous impact that air pollution has on our skin is finally coming to light.

New research reveals just how damaging air pollution is for our skin. Doctors and scientists believe it may be the primary cause of premature aging, especially for populations in urban areas. Connections are also being made between exposure to air pollution and the development of age spots and wrinkles.

The Negative Effects Vehicle Emissions Have on Our Skin

As researchers look for the specific air pollutants that damage delicate skin, vehicle emissions emerge as a main source. Particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) all damage our skin, and all of them are also contained in automobile exhaust.


Particulate matter is particularly problematic for our skin. Researchers from the German University of Dusseldorf found that exposure to particulate pollution increases the occurrence of age spots and wrinkles. While ultraviolet exposure, poor nutrition habits, and smoking also contribute to skin aging, the study concluded that air pollution is the leading cause.


However, the effects of air pollution aren’t just a beauty concern. Scientific research shows a direct correlation between increased levels of particulate air pollution and a jump in hospital visits for skin conditions like eczema and hives.


How to Protect Yourself

Your skin is the body’s first line of protection. The top layer of skin has flattened cells that act like the hard tiles of a countertop, protecting the layers underneath. Lipids act like the grout that seals these skin “tiles” together.


Some over-the-counter cosmetics and skin care products can disturb your skin’s protective surface, allowing damaging pollutants to get to the delicate layers underneath. If you want to protect your skin from the damaging effects of air pollution, here are some basic steps to take.


  1. Use the proper skin care regimen. Antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E aid in your skin’s natural cleansing and barrier repair. This provides the best air pollution defense for your skin. SKin care products containing glycerin, lanolin, niacinamide and beeswax are also recommended.

  2. Check outdoor air quality.Monitor your local air quality using the website airnow.gov. Limit time spent outdoors when local air pollution levels are high.

  3. Use an air purifier to reduce indoor air pollutant.The average person spends most of their time indoors. While it is impossible to control the quality of the air outside your home, you can take steps to improve indoor air quality. A high-quality air purifier like Austin Air’s HealthMate Plus is an effective way to remove particulate matter and other skin damaging pollutants from the air inside your home.


Air pollution and city life go hand in hand. However, if you want to protect your skin, there are ways to be proactive and reduce the harmful aging effects pollution has on your skin. By following these simple steps, you can help your skin stay youthful and healthy for years to come.

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