8 Ways Air Pollution Is Destroying Your Skin As You Get Older & How To Fight Back

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The quality of our air seems to be only getting worse. While we’re all worried about the health effects of air pollution, do you consider that it might also be ruining your skin? 

As you get older, maybe that problem you’ve been dealing with does have a cause after all. Increased redness, inflammation, worsened acne symptoms, and more are associated with pollution accumulating on the skin. But there are even worse side effects. So, let’s discuss how air pollution is destroying your skin and give you some tips for fighting back. 

1. Accelerates Skin Aging

Upset middle aged woman looking at aging skin
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That’s right. Air pollution can actually age your skin faster. Pollutants are full of free radicals, which, when accumulated on the skin, can cause oxidative damage. This leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as a loss of elasticity in the skin. A similar effect is seen in the skin of smokers, too. 

To fight back against this, use products that are high in antioxidants. Look for DIY lotion recipes that contain vitamins C and E.   

2. Increases Inflammation and Sensitivity

acne inflammation on skin
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Our skin can become extremely sensitive when exposed to pollutants. This can lead to increased redness, itchiness, and inflammation. In fact, air pollution has been found to actively worsen certain types of acne. 

If this sounds like your skin, opt for DIY skincare products that contain soothing ingredients. Zinc is wonderfully anti-inflammatory. Lavender and Chamomile essential oils will help soothe overly sensitive or inflamed skin.  

3. Triggers Acne and Breakouts

women looking in mirror at acne
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As I already mentioned, pollution can worsen acne. Worse yet, it can also trigger flare-ups and breakouts. This is because the harmful chemicals found in air pollution can sit in our pores and help block them, causing painful inflammation. 

To help minimize this, be sure to cleanse and tone properly. It’s actually easy to make your own cleanser at home! But whatever you do, avoid ingredients that will also clog your pores, such as cosmetic butters like shea and cocoa butter.  

4. Weakens Skin Barrier

Dry and healthy skin layer. stratum corneum and ceramides
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Pollution can destroy your skin’s barrier. It does this by stripping the skin of its natural oils but also destabilizing the acid barrier. This can lead to a whole host of problems, such as making it more susceptible to irritants and skin infections. 

Switch to DIY moisturizers that are deeply moisturizing, as well as those that contain ceramides and fatty acids. Jojoba oil is a fantastic option, but ordinary sunflower oil is good, too.

5. Leads to Hyperpigmentation

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That’s right, it can even change the color of your skin! The chemicals in air pollution are known to stimulate cells in our skin known as melanocytes. These are responsible for producing the pigment in our skin, known as melanin. So, when they become overactive, we suffer from dark spots, uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation. 

If your skin suffers from this unfortunate side effect, then look for creams that have a brightening effect. Vitamin c creams are fantastic for this. 

6. Dehydrates the Skin

dry skin before and after moisturizing
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This is a no-brainer, really, but pollution will suck every bit of moisture from your skin, leaving it dry and feeling rough. Even people with oily skin can sometimes suffer from this; it can also affect how your skin cells retain moisture, regardless of how much is on your skin. 

To fight off, be sure to cleanse your skin daily and support it with deeply hydrating and conditioning ingredients. Water based serum recipes containing d-Panethnol are great for providing intense, soothing hydration for your skin. 

7. Promotes Free Radical Damage

DNA damage
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We’ve talked about how free radicals can make skin age faster, but did you know that they can also damage our very DNA? Pollution on the skin actively generates free radicals, so they begin accumulating in the skin the moment we step outside. 

If you’re already using products high in antioxidants, keep it up, as it’s the only real way to fight back against free radicals. 

8. Contributes to Skin Cancer Risk

skin cancer awareness
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When we do nothing to protect our skin from air pollution, things can really get bad. Long-term exposure to certain pollutants is associated with an increased risk of skin cancer. Worse yet, air pollution is being linked to a number of different cancers, including lung, bladder, breast, and blood cancers. 

To avoid an increased risk of skin cancer, always use a good quality SPF of 30 or above. But generally, it’s recommended to avoid spending time outside when you know the air quality is at its worst. Try to improve the air quality at home, too, so you have a safe space to retreat to.  

11 Ways To Care For Mature Skin More Naturally

Beautiful middle aged women that cares for her skin naturally
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If you’re looking for a natural way to improve your skin health, following a daily skincare routine and living by a few simple rules can bring many benefits.
Learn How To: Care For Your Skin Naturally As You Age.

16 DIY Skincare Recipes To Look After Your Skin Naturally

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Experts say the global skincare market will be worth $273.3 billion by 2023. But making your skin look and feel fantastic doesn’t have to break the bank! Homemade skincare recipes can deliver the same or better results than big-name brands, often at a fraction of the cost. From natural cleansers and specially formulated face scrubs to eye serums and lip balms, you’ll discover an array of recipes you can make at home to combat the signs of aging or use as gifts for loved ones!
Let’s look at 16 Homemade Skincare Recipes For Glowing Skin

This article originally appeared on Savvy Homemade

Author: Angela Wills

Title: Founder and Author - Savvy Homemade

Expertise: Beauty Recipes, Skincare Formulation, Soapmaking, DIY Crafts, Parenting


Angela Wills is an author, founder, and the driving force behind Savvy Homemade. With over fifteen years of experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication to every post she writes. She is fearlessly dedicated to creating tried and tested beauty recipes, skincare formulations, soap recipes, and many other DIY crafts that will work for everyone. Angela has a Diploma in Skincare Formulation, is a proud member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, and infuses each DIY product with her passion and expertise.

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