We have known for many years about the negative impact of pollution on our health and the environment. However only more recently have we begun to learn more about the impact to our skin. Although the effects of UV are well documented, air pollution (Particulate matter) visible light radiation and Infrared are now equally important concerns to address when considering long-term skin health and reducing the visible signs of ageing.
Composed of micro particles of solids from dust, fumes and smoke. This debris is what you can see on your cotton wool pad after cleansing. The particles are so small, just a fraction of the diameter of a human hair, these tiny particles are able to penetrate through the pores into the skin. The result is not only inflammation and dehydration, but also disruption to the skin’s barrier function caused by oxidative stress, accelerating the visible signs of ageing.
Overall increased levels of Particulate Matter are associated with acne, skin sensitivity and premature ageing including pigmentation. A study undertaken in 2014 concluded that city life accelerated skin ageing upto 10% faster compared to rural life.
UV & IR
For many years, sun-induced ageing, also called photoageing, was attributed only to ultraviolet rays, but infrared rays and the heat they generate also contribute to the loss of skin firmness and elasticity leading to the appearance of premature wrinkles.
UV and IR penetrate the dermis layer of the skin at different depths, but both affect the quality of the skins elastic fibers (elastin). The process causes the production of a unique enzyme which is responsible for dermis fiber degradation resulting in a loss of firmness.
Electromagnetic Radiation is the newest form of pollution and it has a vast and diverse effect on the health of human skin. Although photobiologic studies of sunlight date back to Sir Isaac Newton in 1671, most available studies focused mainly on the UV radiation part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum.
The effects of both visible light and infrared radiation until recently, have not been clearly explained. Various biological effects have been shown to be exerted by visible light radiation including erythema, pigmentation, thermal damage and free radical production. It has also been shown that visible light can induce indirect DNA damage through the generation of reactive oxygen species.
Mobile phones and other electronic devices emit Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) and in the last decade these levels have increased dramatically. We cannot hide from it, we spend more of our time infront of mobile phones and tablets, but we are only starting to see its negative effects on skin health. High Energy Blue Light from screens accelerates the oxidation process, compromises skin barrier function and increases inflammation.