High Pollution? How Your Skincare Routine Can Help

It is a well-known fact that pollution can harm your body, including your skin. These harmful airborne particles float in the atmosphere, so not only do we breathe them in our lungs, but they also enter our body through our skin.

Key takeaways:
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    Pollution enters your body through your lungs and skin.
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    Pollution causes inflammation and oxidative stress on your skin, which leads to the exacerbation of atopic dermatitis, acne flares, premature aging, and skin cancers.
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    A good skincare routine with anti-pollution products can help combat the detrimental effects of pollution.
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    Anti-pollution toners can help remove pollution particles left over after cleansing.
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    Many toners also contain antioxidants to help protect the skin from the damaging effects of pollution.

With pollution worsening in many parts of the world, it is now more important than ever to add anti-pollution products, like toners, to your skincare routine.

How does pollution harm the skin?

Pollutants enter directly through the skin and cause inflammation, acne, and oxidative stress, leading to premature skin aging and skin cancers. Some pollutants activate the inflammatory pathways in the skin and lead to the exacerbation of atopic dermatitis. It has also been shown to cause acne flares by clogging the pores and increasing sebum (oil) secretion.

Pollutants cause oxidative stress on the skin from the free radicals they produce. These free radicals overload and use up all the skin's protective antioxidants. Once the antioxidants are gone, these free radicals attack our collagen and elastin, which results in wrinkles and sagging skin. The free radicals also harm our DNA leading to skin cancers.

How can anti-pollution products help?

Anti-pollution products can help by reducing inflammation in the skin to prevent atopic dermatitis outbreaks, stop acne flares, and provide antioxidants to protect the skin. Anti-inflammatory ingredients to look for include aloe vera, chamomile, and green tea. If you want to fight acne, look for products with salicylic acid. There is a plethora of antioxidant ingredients available to help your skin, such as vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, resveratrol, and niacinamide.

What types of products can help fight the effects of pollution?


Everyone knows it is vital to cleanse the skin twice daily to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria. But what you may not know is that cleansing will remove pollution particles that are on your skin. If you live in a highly polluted area, double cleansing will benefit you. Many cleansers have antioxidants to help combat free radical damage.


Exfoliants help remove dead skin cells, dirt, oil, bacteria, and pollution particles. Removing dead skin cells allows antioxidant serums and moisturizers to penetrate better, give better results, and protect better.

Antioxidant serums

These serums contain antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and ferulic acid. Antioxidants sacrifice themselves to the free radicals by binding to them and inactivating them. Once inactivated, free radicals can no longer harm your skin. Our skin produces antioxidants, but if you live in a highly polluted area, you may deplete your innate sources. Topical antioxidants provide extra protection against the sun's harmful UV rays.


Many moisturizers, such as those with ceramides, strengthen the skin's barrier to prevent the entrance of harmful particles and microbes. A strong barrier will prevent moisture loss as well. Hyaluronic acid absorbs moisture to prevent dehydration of the skin. Dry, dehydrated skin will crack and allow penetration of pollutant particles. Barrier creams, like petrolatum, will act as a shield to prevent pollution from entering the skin. However, petrolatum is not advised for the face in acne-prone patients since it can cause breakouts. Also, many moisturizers have antioxidants in them to give you added protection.


Everyone knows that sunscreen prevents damage from the sun that causes wrinkles, sagging skin, and skin cancers. However, what you may not know is that some pollutants are activated by the sun's UV light. This is another important reason to wear sunscreen every day.

How can anti-pollution toners benefit the skin?

The right toner can be a vital part of your anti-pollution skincare routine. Toners remove any dirt or pollution particles left over after cleansing. Just be sure to select one that is right for your skin type; otherwise, it could do more harm than good. If you have dry skin, avoid toners with alcohol and select ones that have moisturizing ingredients. If you have oily skin, choose one that is non-comedogenic. Many toners are available with antioxidants to help protect against pollution.

Pollution can enter your body through your skin and wreak havoc. It can worsen atopic dermatitis and acne, damage collagen and elastin, lead to wrinkles and sagging skin, and cause skin cancers. A good anti-pollution skincare routine, including toners, can help.


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