How to Protect Skin from Pollution

Skin and Air Pollution

As you age, your skin naturally begins to lose moisture and elasticity; however, there are factors that can speed up this aging process. It's common knowledge that sun exposure causes wrinkles and other premature signs of aging, and many people now limit their time in the sun and wear sunscreen to protect their skin. But unlike the sun, there's little we can do to limit our exposure to air pollution -- particularly in urban areas. Pollution is one of the main sources of skin damage because toxins in the air cause skin to age prematurely, especially on the face, neck and hands [source: WebMD].

Smog, dirt and dust in the air can clog pores, cause acne and give skin a dull, gray appearance. And free radicals can deplete oxygen in skin cells and decrease collagen production, which leads to wrinkles, fine lines and rough, dry patches. Long-term exposure to air pollution can also cause skin allergies, eczema, asthma, nausea and blood vessel damage [source: Reuters].

To protect your skin from air pollution, it's important to wash your face daily, exfoliate your skin twice a week and use a daily moisturizer. And studies show that using products that contain antioxidants may also combat pollutants in the skin. [source: Orlow].  Drinking more water can also help because it hydrates your skin and increases cell production. But drinking polluted water can be harmful to skin. Read on to learn more.