Dr Patterson discusses the effects of pollution on the skin

Picture of car pollution


What are the concerns about pollution when it comes to skin?

With the rising awareness of the damage caused by UV exposure and the wide spread use of UV protection, air pollution is now the number one cause of skin damage and ageing.

Particulate matter primarily arising from diesel combustion can penetrate the surface of both the lung and skin. Once into the skin they exert a damaging effect partly because of their intrinsic nature but also because they act as ‘carriers’ for other toxins such as bacteria, carcinogens, acids, organic particles and metals. Once they penetrate the skin’s outer barrier they set of a cascade of multiple pathways of inflammation, further disrupt the skin’s barrier and alter the landscape on the surface of the skin leading to the risk of colonisation with unfriendly bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Is there evidence to substantiate the impact of pollution on skin?

Published research from both Germany and China shows a statistically significant correlation between the level of air pollutants and pigmentation on the face and a less significant correlation with facial wrinkles.

How can we protect our skin from environmental pollution?

Keeping the external skin barrier as healthy as possible is key to reducing the movement of external agents into the skin. For optimal skin health there is a specific ratio of the three key lipids, cholesterol, ceramides and free fatty acids that should be maintained in the top part of the epidermis. Choosing moisturisers that contain barrier lipid repair technology and are proven to enhance the skin barrier should be the first step in protecting against environmental pollution such as Epionce Renewal Moisturisers and in particular Epionce Renewal Facial Cream. The other component within these forms of moisturisers is a wide raft of botanical anti-inflammatories that help to dampen down chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the skin’s response to agents entering the skin and if not controlled leads to unwanted redness, pigmentation, wrinkling and ultimately skin cancers

What is the role of antioxidants in protecting our skin?

Antioxidants remain a key group within the skincare industry but their value particularly as individual ingredients are over hyped. Vitamin C is often touted as the panacea for the control of oxidation but the science behind this must be challenged.

If we are going to use antioxidants then we should consider a more balanced approach with a formulation containing all of the key vitamins and components of vitamins in the correct proportions. Vitamin A in the form of retinol, retinal and retinoic acid, multiple different forms of vitamin B, vitamin C in the form of l-ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid, vitamin D in two forms and multiple forms of vitamin E can all now be delivered in one serum to effectively combat oxidation without overloading the skin with unhelpful and potentially irritating high vitamin concentrations. Epionce Intense Defense Serum provides a wide spectrum of easily absorbed vitamins.

Can some sunscreens protect against pollution?

Some sunscreens now contain anti-pollution protection built into the formulation. Botanical extracts such as apple fruit extract are a major source of quercetin which is a potent antioxidant. Rosemary extract contains Carnosic acid, Rosmarinic acid as well as Ursolic acid and these provide further antioxidant protection. Iron oxides can be formulated to lie within the silicone mesh that is the basis for some sunscreens and they function as a chelating agent, helping to absorb carbon particulate matter. Epionce Daily Shield Tinted SPF 50 provides a good broad-spectrum protection against UV rays and pollutants.

How important is a good cleansing routine in the fight against pollution?

An effective but skin friendly cleansing routine is essential to remove all makeup, sunscreen and imbedded pollution every evening. The routine must be effective but at the same time avoid disruption of the delicate lipid balance in the surface skin cells. Epionce range of cleansers ensure effective and safe cleansing of the face.

What should I be avoiding?

Avoiding harsh physical exfoliation and over toning the skin is sensible. The skin is alive, self-repairing and is actually quite good at looking after itself. Unfortunately, the cosmetic industry is besotted with telling people to exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. This has the potential for damaging the skin barrier and in fact lowering the skin's defences.

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