IN THE AIR
Anti-pollution products for the perfect complexion.
IN AUSTRALIA we’re well aware of the damage the sun can do, but scientists are digging up ever more dirt on a less visible concern: pollution. Around 91 per cent of the world’s population is exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organisation (WHO) limits. “Today, pollution is the largest environmental cause for premature death and illness, associated with nine million deaths worldwide in 2015,” says Dr Barbara Sturm, a specialist in aesthetic medicine and molecular cosmetics with a skincare range in Mecca. “Several medical studies show that pollution is associated with many symptoms connected to the ageing process.” Studies have shown that poor air quality increases age spots by up to 25 per cent, aggravates inflammatory conditions like eczema and acne, and even damages DNA. “Ozone pollution damage appears in skin as excess oiliness, rough texture and increased sensitivity,” says Dr Elena Voskresenskaya, Skinceuticals Global Education Manager. Scientists now know more about how this works: the fine particulate matter, deemed a carcinogen by WHO, is much smaller than our pores, so this matter can infiltrate the deeper layers of the skin and cause inflammation. It’s not just obvious pollutants like car emissions, ozone, forest fires and cigarette smoke that we need to worry about — blue light from screens is also bad news for your skin. “Blue light radiation can penetrate the skin much deeper than UVA or UVB rays, and damages DNA,” says Dr Sturm. “Pollution also has a cumulative effect, meaning that blue light, in combination with unprotected sun exposure, cigarette smoke and air pollution, has a magnifying effect and damages the skin even more.” Staying away from screens and improving indoor air quality with plants or an air purifier are simple ways to improve indoor air quality. Technological advances also make it possible to understand the potential damage you face when walking out the door, too. Dermalogica has a dedicated website, skinpollution.com, that not only tells you what your local air quality is like, but also what products your skin will need for adequate protection. As a general rule, Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica, recommends double cleansing your skin daily. “Use a tool such as a brush or mitt to ensure the pollutant particles on our skin’s surface are dislodged and removed effectively,” she says. “Follow with a bridge between cleansing and exfoliation by using a microfoliant, ideally containing the absorbent properties of charcoal.” As awareness of toxic air increases, anti-pollution skincare products are set to become as ubiquitous as SPF. “This is not a fad made up by the cosmetic industry, it is very real and an essential component to the health of our skin,” says Emma.