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It wouldn’t be the first time the beauty industry and environmental issues have crossed paths. From the “if life hands you lemons” side of the fence, comes the news of Chinese runways filled with high fashion anti pollution masks last year, including pink latex, lace trimmed, and full faced gas mask models, when pollution hit such a high level in China, the citizens were urged to wear protective masks. However, if color coordinated face masks are not your thing, you may be pleased to hear about anti pollution skin care. Here are some of the details behind the emerging trend aimed at protecting skin without the need for fashion accessories.
The Science Behind Anti Pollution Skin Care
According to anti pollution expert Dr. Julia Fussell, power stations, factories and motor vehicles are the major contributors to air pollution, with particulate matter, or PM, consisting of ozone and nitrogen. “Since the skin is an organ that is in direct contact with these air pollutants, an association between air pollution and skin damaging effects leading to skin ageing is certainly possible,” she explained.
The protective proteins in the skin that guard against moisture loss from premature aging are keratin, in the outer layer, and collagen, in the lower layer, but is soon to point out that the supply of these proteins are not without limits. “It is likely,” she says, “that the defensive capacity provided by keratin and collagen is not unlimited, and if air pollution were to exceed the protective potential, disturbances in or even damage to skin structure could occur.”
Pollution’s Impact On the Skin
While Fussell allows, “Information regarding the mechanisms by which air pollution can damage the skin is limited,” there have been several studies that have found pollution to impact the skin in various ways. They include:
Ageing : Studies comparing skin of women in rural and urban communities found that those exposed to higher levels of pollution from traffic had more visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles and hyperpigmtantion than those in the countryside.
Barrier function and Hydration: Another study showed that women living in areas in which air quality was poor showed higher percentages of compromised skin barrier function and hydration than those in areas with lower levels of pollution.
Skin Conditions: Some studies suggest that air pollution may aggravate pre existing skin diseases, like eczema and atopic dermatitis.
Dr. Fussell says that there is speculation that people with sensitive skin may be more vulnerable to the effects of pollution. She also says that the impact of pollution may be dependent on other variables, such as ethnicity, age, skin type and exposure pattern, but notes, “Further studies are however required to prove these possible susceptibilities.”
The current investigations of topically applied products are aimed at:
- Reducing particle load on skin
- Stengthening and restoring the function of the skin’s protective barrier to reduce penetration from pollutants
- Decreasing trans-epidermal loss of water
- Restoring reserves of antioxidants, reducing inflammation,and inhibiting molecules in our cells which may play a role in the way air pollution effects the skin.
- Protecting skin from UV rays, which can worsen the effects of airborne particles on skin
What do you think of anti pollution skin care? Would you try it? Let us know what you think of this new trend in cosmetics.