Pollution, Skin and the Summer

Hazard alert: city living could be reducing your glow.

I’m not being melodramatic, unfortunately. An uneven skin tone is a major contributor to looking less radiant and pesky pollution is a significant part of that problem if you’re an urban dweller. We know that the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS) and particulate matter (PM) found in the air as a result of traffic pollution can actually penetrate the skin barrier function and lead to the development of brown spots.

And alarmingly, one well-known study in Germany compared urban dwellers with rural residents, and when other things like UV were controlled for, the city-based women experienced around a whopping 22% more hyperpigmentation.

Protecting Skin from Pollution

First things first: I think that given the combination of UV and pollution is especially potent in summer, it’s vital to make sure you cleanse fully at night to remove particulate matter trapped in layers of SPF and make-up, especially if you exercise outdoors. I developed Flawless Cleanser to be a highly effective ‘single cleanse’ cleanser that removes the grime of the day, sunscreen, oil and sweat without leaving stressed-out city skin depleted.

Next - how do we prevent harm in the first place? I think that, whilst we all know that daily broad-spectrum sunscreen is an essential, that it’s wise to adopt a ‘belt-and-braces’ approach by combining that with a morning application of a potent antioxidant serum, like Skinceuticals CE Ferulic.

Then, perhaps crucially,

Skincare For Pollution

There are numerous agents that improve hyperpigmentation – my favourites are azelaic acid, niacinamide and retinoids. Hydroquinone on prescription is also highly effective and should be used under physician guidance. Finally, light-based devices improve pigmentation of this origin - I’m going to do a video with Dr Rakesh to give us the lowdown on this approach very soon!

Foods to Combat The Effects of Pollution

As a final note, I also think its key to ensure your diet is rich in micronutrients like antioxidants, minerals and ‘anti-inflammatory’ ingredients by consuming colourful foods like spices, berries, nuts, dark cruciferous vegetables and green tea.

In my fridge are always the following: carrots, tomatoes, apples, blueberries and watermelon. And green tea and olive oil feature regularly in my diet too.

Ultimately an inside-out approach works best to solve any problem, given that moving to the countryside is probably not an option any time soon.