Most people can now safely agree that pollution is definitely taking a toll on the environment and is a cause for concern. What pollution does to your lungs has been well-documented for some time. We're now understanding that pollution can also impact other parts of your body, including your skin.

Recent research is showing that air that isn't clean has a huge impact on the health of your body's largest organ: the skin. This isn't necessarily a new problem, but until recently, little scientific research has been done.

What Does Pollution Do To Your Skin?

There is a definite correlation between air pollution and the number of people suffering from skin problems such as acne, hives, and eczema. It's prematurely aging the skin by accelerating wrinkles and age spots. Air pollution isn't just affecting skin on a cosmetic level, but poses a very real threat to skin health, too.

A landmark study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology compared women living in urban and rural environments over a period of 24 years and found that those exposed to increased air pollution had more dark spots and wrinkling. According to Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center, Doris Day, M.D., "Pollution can cause uneven skin tone, accelerated aging, and even skin cancer."

At the annual conference of the Chinese Dermatologist Association, Olay presented a joint study proving that pollution has a significantly detrimental effect on the skin. Living in highly polluted areas ages people 10% faster than those living in the country. According to Zoe Draelos, M.D., Consulting Professor of Dermatology at Duke University and author of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology article entitled "Aging in a Polluted World," pollution breaks down collagen and the lipid layer in the skin, which impairs skin barrier functions.

In addition, days spent with high pollution can cause a flare-up of skin conditions. "It's a vicious cycle," says Dr. Frauke Neuser, Olay Principal Scientist. "Every time you go out, the chemicals can penetrate more easily, and the barrier is weakened." Exposure is associated with inflammatory or allergic skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

How Can Pollution Affect Your Skin?

Your skin acts as a biological shield against chemical and physical air pollutants, but the prolonged or repetitive exposure to high levels of these pollutants could have a profound negative impact on your skin.

There is pollution all around you. Microscopic specs of smoke, soot, acid, and other pollutants are released into the atmosphere from sources like fires, construction sites, cars, and power plants. Traffic is notably the largest offender of healthy skin.

Some believe that these particles simply sit on the surface of the skin gumming up the works.

But the real truth is much worse than that.

These particles released into the atmosphere and landing on your skin are t i n y.

The particles of pollution are about 20 times smaller than your pores, which allows them to infiltrate into deeper layers of the epidermis, causing not only inflammation and dehydration, but also a reaction at the cellular level. It's this deep reaction that leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, causing a loss of elasticity and firmness.

It's difficult to say exactly which of the many components of pollution is responsible for the skin changes we see. Some of the specific pollutants tested in the lab include Benzo-a-pyrene, urban dust, ultrafine dust, and diesel exhaust. While it's true the larger particles are too big to penetrate,"but chemicals that are attached to them, such as from fuel, diesel, and pesticides, will penetrate and kick off a reaction with free radical production and oxidative stress which ages the skin," explains Neuser.

Let's use urban dust as an example. It contains a cocktail of 224 toxic chemicals including polyaromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, and heavy metals. Yikes! Another often overlooked pollutant is cigarette smoke, shown to consist of over 6,000 chemicals.

When breathed in, pollutants generate circulating free radicals and increase our inflammatory state by activating our immune response which can accelerate signs of aging," says Dr. Adam Geyer, a consulting dermatologist.

How To Protect Your Skin From Pollution

The good news? Your skin is a pretty efficient filter on its own when it's healthy. One of the functions of the skin barrier is to keep things from getting into the body by way of the skin. The human skin does a good job of blocking out undesirable substances and forces like chemicals, pathogens, and sunlight. Practicing good skin care goes a long way towards ensuring you're as protected as possible. Day explains, "Simple changes to your beauty routine, such as proper cleansing and using antioxidants every day, can have a big, positive effect on your skin."

  • Avoid hot water, steam, or high heat when possible.
  • Stay away from extreme conditions like dry air, bitter cold, and strong winds.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes a variety of antioxidants and healthy probiotics.
  • Utilize the help of skin care products that contain antioxidants to combat free radicals and probiotics designed to relieve inflammation. GLOWBIOTICS Advanced Vitamin-C Brightening Serum and the Advanced Anti-Aging Replenishing Oil are both great choices, providing healthy blends of powerful antioxidants.
  • Avoid excessive use of perfumes, which can weaken the barrier.
  • Clean thoroughly, but don't overdo cleansing with soaps or exfoliation.
  • Use sunscreen religiously.

As a pioneer of probiotic skincare, GLOWBIOTICS maintains the integrity of the skin's microbiome while delivering beauty-focused results. They focus on reducing inflammation and rebalancing the skin's ability to heal through an inside-out approach, using healthy strains of good bacteria. GLOWBIOTICS are the only skincare products formulated with topical probiotics and other inflammation-inhibiting technologies specifically designed to avoid inflammation.

You can't necessarily single-handedly change the atmosphere you live in, but you do have control over how much you let pollution affect your face.