The cost of the commute on your skin

Heading back to the office? With air pollution at an all time high during the working week, it's time to start protecting your skin.

Hair & Beauty

Not only has working from home for the past 18 months saved us a small fortune - £7,671 on average for Londoners – but it’s also spared our skin from the daily grime of air pollution.

Statistics from The Department of Health suggest that pollution concentration is as much as 20% greater during the working week, compared with the weekend. As well serious environmental implications and health consequences, pollution can have an ageing impact on our skin. But just how much do we understand about the effects of pollution and how to protect our skin from it?

New insight from the UK’s leading skin clinic, sk:n has shown that while 78% of people across the UK are concerned about the effect of pollution on their skin, only a tiny 23% know how to protect their skin from harm. So, as we head back into the office, how can we limit the negative impact on the condition of our skin?

Consultant Dermatologist at sk:n, Jinah Yoo explains more:  

“There are several mechanisms by which air pollution can affect the skin. Ozone, which is one of the major air pollutants, generates free radicals (a toxic by-product of oxidation) which leads to a reduction in the antioxidants in our skin, as well as disrupting collagen production and destroying the skin’s barrier. As a result, it promotes skin ageing.

“With long-term exposure to air pollutants, you may see the signs of skin ageing which will appear as wrinkles, brown spots, uneven skin tone, dehydration and loosing elasticity of the skin.

“Air pollutants also cause skin inflammation and increased pigment production. Some studies have shown pollution can result in up to a 50% reduction in skin microflora, which are group of microorganisms living on our skin to protect against harmful bacteria.

“What’s more, some of the air pollutants are small enough to penetrate into pores which can be trapped and cause acne-like spots.”

Concentrations of Ozone peak due to prolonged hot and sunny conditions, such as heat waves, with exposure much higher for those living in urban areas which accounts for 83% of all Brits.

How to protect your skin against pollution

When it comes to protecting your skin against pollution, Jinah recommends:

“There are four important daily skincare steps you should consider: deep cleansing, antioxidant application, moisturiser and sunscreen.

Mario Badescu Gentle Foaming Cleanser, £7.95

“Firstly, deep cleansing at night will help to remove pollutants accumulated on the surface of the skin during the daytime.

Laniege Radian C Cream, £22.50

“After cleansing, application of an antioxidant cream containing vitamin C and E, which inhibit free radical formation, will help to delay the skin ageing process caused by extrinsic factors such as air pollution or UV. However, choosing the right antioxidant and using it correctly is important. Vitamin C cream comes in various concentrations (5-20%), it is best to start with a low concentration, then gradually increase the concentration as starting with high strength can occasionally cause skin irritation. As vitamin C oxidises quickly, storing in a cool, dark place with tightly sealed container and looking for a product containing ferulic acid with vitamin C and E which improves stability of antioxidants can reduce the concern over stability. Antioxidants need to be used for at least 6 months before seeing any significant improvement."

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