Unless youā€™re willing to parade around in a hazmat suit and respirator maskā€”not very stylish, but youā€™ll get noticed!–you canā€™t completely avoid exposing your skin to airborne dirt, soot, and noxious chemicals. But awareness and knowledge of the problem is a good starting point for defending against the harmful effects of pollution on skin. For awareness, just head over to your local auto mechanic and ask him or her to show you your carā€™s once snow-white air filter, now turned sooty and black from pollutants. Then imagine the effects of airborne pollution on your skin.

The skin aging effect of inhaled ā€˜personal pollutionā€™ due to tobacco smoke is well known. More recently, scientists have shown detrimental skin changes from exposure to traffic-related pollutants. In one study, women in urban areas of Germany showed an increase in wrinkling and pigment spot formation compared with women from rural areas.

In the spirit that knowledge is power, letā€™s take a closer look at how pollution affects skin. Air pollution comes in two broad categories–particulate matter from the burning of fossil fuels (gasoline, coal, or diesel), wood, or tobacco; and gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Ozone, which is a gas, is a secondary pollutant that results from chemical reactions between primary pollutants, heat and solar radiation. Ground level ozone and particulate matter create an environment of oxidative stress that leads to a compromised skin barrier and inflammation. Certain hydrocarbon pollutants in particulate matter can activate skin cells that produce pigment, leading to the appearance of age spots.

A pollution free world is not happening anytime soon, so what to do in the meantime?

Protect your body by taking these practical steps to limit your exposure to air pollutants:




If you need to walk, bike, or exercise in urban areas, choose routes and times with less traffic.



When stopped in traffic, leave an adequate distance between the car in front of you to minimize the intake of car exhaust.



Turn your car fan to ā€œrecirculateā€ if you are stuck in traffic. Periodically change the cabin or air conditioning filter in your car.



Check theĀ airnow.govĀ website for the air quality index in your zip code. Limit outdoor activities when air quality is poor.



MEG 21 cleansers used at night remove particulate pollutants along with makeup, oil, and dirt.



MEG 21 Moisturizing Toner, which is formulated with Supplamine, antioxidants, and Trinity Tea Complex, fights free radicals caused by pollution.



MEG 21 Anti-Oxidant Boost with Supplamine combats the effects of oxidative stress with the powerful anti-oxidant extracts of Indian gooseberry and grape seed.


MEG 21 Face, Advanced and Hand Treatment products with Supplamine maintain barrier function and keep skin healthy.

Learn More About the Pollution-Skin-Protection Connection

For an in-depth discussion on the topic of pollution and its effects on skin, please view a recentĀ Facebook Live sessionĀ with Dr. Annette Tobia, founder and CEO of MEG 21 with SupplamineĀ®.

Additional Reading

Krutmann, J., A. Bouloc, G. Sore, B.A. Bernare, and T. Passeron (2017) The skin aging exposome. J. Dermatological Science 85:152-161.Ā http://www.jdsjournal.com/article/S0923-1811(16)30816-7/pdf

California EPA Air Resources Board: FACTS ABOUT Reducing Your Exposure to Particle Pollution accessed March 1, 2017Ā https://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/pmfactsheet.pdf