The skin-aging effects of sun exposure are well known, but there are other hazards in the atmosphere that can harm the skin.

For example, we are continuously exposed to ground-level ozone, a chemical that Dr. Giuseppe Valachi, an expert on pollution’s effects, describes “as if designed specifically to injure our skin.” And ozone is only part of the story.

A recent study in China and Germany pointed towards air pollution as the cause of brown spots on the skin, reflective of science’s growing focus on how polluted air can accelerate the skin’s aging.

Toxic air has been linked to premature aging and worsening skin conditions such as eczema and hives. Fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 is many times smaller than the pores through which skin breathes, causing inflammation that accelerates the development of age spots and wrinkles. The Guardian

Sunscreens are not effective against air pollution, but there are steps we can take to protect our skin from it:

  • Cleansing – removing the accumulated harmful particles
  • Moisturizing – replenishing the skin’s moisture barrier
  • Protecting – using products rich in antioxidants to neutralize free radicals

Naturally, the quality of products you use can make all the difference. If your daily routine is based on clean beauty products, it is likely your skin is already well-protected from air pollution. But if not, then it may be time to make a change and give your skin a complete break from perfume, alcohol and other synthetic chemicals, while providing it with the support it needs to thrive in our often challenging environment.

“Environmental pollutants are pretty much inescapable, but these defensive measures can neutralize their effects”.

Read more about environmental threats to the skin and how to defend against them in this article in the New York Times.

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