During the summer of 2019/2020, the east coast of Australia was smothered in toxic fumes from unprecedented bushfires that ravaged the country. The smoke haze from the fires caused air quality to be ranked as some of the worst in the world, and up to 10 times worse than what is considered hazardous.
While some of our cities were choked in a brown smog making it hard to see and breathe, it did serve to highlight a growing global issue – that of air pollution and its impact on our health.
No matter where we live in this modern world, air pollution poses serious risks to our health. Airborne pollutants also affect how our skin looks, feels and ages. In fact, pollution now only ranks second behind sun damage when it comes to ageing your skin.
There are five main types of air pollution that pose the biggest risk to your skin’s appearance. These are all mainly associated with big cities and built up urban areas however, living in a rural location doesn’t mean you are free from risk. All forms of pollution move through the air, water or can settle in the soil. They include car and truck exhaust fumes; cigarette smoke; manufacturing by-products (such as phthalates from plastics); small particle matter including many volatile organic compounds in the form or aerosols; and smog, especially the ground-level ozone it generates.
Surprisingly, the real threat often doesn’t come from these pollution particles themselves, but from the chemicals that find a way to attach to them. Urban dust can contain a lethal cocktail of up to 224 toxic chemicals including polyaromatic hydrocarbons to pesticides and heavy metals. While the actual pollution particles are usually too large to penetrate skin themselves, many of the chemicals attached to them are not. Cigarette smoke, for example, has been shown to consist of over 6,000 chemicals.
There is also a clear correlation between spikes in air pollution and the increases in the number of people suffering from skin problems like acne, hives and eczema. It is clear that air pollution is not just affecting the skin on a cosmetic level, but also poses a real threat to skin health.
While all forms of pollution cause free-radical damage to the skin, smog is especially harmful. Left unchecked, the damage it causes will lead to the breakdown and deterioration of everything your skin needs to look healthy and to prevent the visible signs of ageing.
Pollution also unbalances the skin’s microbiome by significantly damaging its barrier, and once this happens the effects of pollution are intensified. The skin problems caused by pollution make for a pretty nasty line-up. They include:
- Dull, uneven skin tones
- Brown spots
- Sensitive, redness-prone skin
- Uncomfortable dry, itchy skin
- Enlarged pores
Small airborne pollutants can get stuck in the skin’s pores. This is often referred to as chemical or pollution-induced acne. It triggers damage in the deeper skin layers, right where wrinkles and most discolourations form. Keeping the skin surface intact and healthy is vitally important for its health and appearance.
Because of its widespread nature, it is virtually impossible to completely protect the skin from the effects of pollution. You can, however, shield your skin from airborne pollutants and the effects they can activate.
How to protect and restore your skin from the effects of pollution
The threat from pollution is real and it is not going to get any better any time soon. Skin and overall health can be protected by a high antioxidant diet, select supplements, properly cleansed skin, and by using products that have been specifically designed to combat the most common toxins in pollution.
Once again, the DMK four-step program of Remove, Rebuild, Protect and Maintain comes into play. Their system matches individual body chemistry with appropriate botanical formulas, professional treatments and home prescriptives – like Epitoxyl, an ionised cleanser that has been specially formulated to draw the toxins and impurities out of the skin. With key ingredients like Maris Sal sea salt, kelp and red algae, Epitoxyl turns impurities and toxins into gas form, then acts like a magnet to draw that gas to the skin surface where it can evaporate. And while sometimes it doesn’t smell all that great, the stronger the odour means the higher the level of impurities that are being drawn from the skin. It is an ideal product for those who suffer from acne and congested skin and for skin exposed to high levels of environmental toxins. It is also an excellent remedy for city-based people, smokers, drinkers and people on heavy medications.