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How to Protect Skin from Air Pollution

How to protect the skin from air pollution

Those of us who live in the city are at a disadvantage when it comes to skin health, because pollution is damaging to the skin. To find out how pollution damages the skin and leads to breakouts and how to avoid this effect, keep on reading.

How does pollution affect the skin?

Our skin is a natural barrier, but it is still vulnerable to free-radical damage. In the air, there are many different types of nanoparticles (small pollutants) and gases such as carbon monoxide which can damage the skin.

When our skin comes into contact with these nanoparticles, it causes free-radical damage to the skin. In the short term, you could get negative effects such as clogged pores and acne, but in the long run, pollution can lead to premature ageing.

Because nanoparticles get stuck in pores, they can cause blockages within them which lead to spots. You might also notice a worsening of the appearance of your pores when living in high pollution areas, because of the trapped pollution in your skin. I personally notice an increase in pimples when I spend a lot of time in the city. This can be extremely frustrating for those with acne prone skin, but I think this blog post will help you with this issue!

In the long run, free-radical damage can lead to premature ageing. This is because oxidation of the skin over time will break down its lipids and collagen, weakening the structure of the skin prematurely.

Those with skin sensitivity or skin that is prone to redness may also see an increase in these effects when spending extended periods of time in a busy city, because of the constant disruption of the skin barrier.

But it’s not all doom and gloom; here’s what you can do to protect your skin from these unwanted effects!

What you can do to protect your skin!

Washing your face alone might not be enough to get rid of the free-radicals settling into your pores. Deep cleaning is essential for fighting the effects of nanoparticles. Consider double cleansing when washing your face, to really cleanse your skin effectively. If you’re unsure how to double cleanse, feel free to reach out to me or leave a comment below! For really cleansing the pores, it’s a good idea to use cleansers specifically designed for pollution, and keep an eye out for salicylic acid.

The best way to protect yourself from the oxidation is to shield your skin from airborne pollutants by using skincare with antioxidants. These limit pollution’s effects on the skin. The Ordinary produces some extremely affordable and effective antioxidant serums, such as their Alpha Lipoic Acid.

In conjunction with this, using exfoliants will really help cleanse the pores and get the free-radicals off your skin. In my skincare guide, I explain about the different types of exfoliants, such as BHAs and AHAs. I really recommend checking it out to find out how to find the right exfoliator for you. My favourite exfoliators for protecting my skin against the effects of pollution are glycolic acid and salicylic acid.

When your skin is under attack from free-radicals, it’s more important than ever to add nutrients back to your skin. Using hydrating products, such as hyaluronic acid toners and serums will really help to rebalance the skin. I like to use a nice, nourishing moisturiser at night to help soothe my skin (my favourite at the moment is Cerave’s Moisturising Cream).

Keep an eye out for barrier protecting or repairing creams, too. These are specifically designed to help mitigate the effects of pollution on the skin. I’m currently using Bellflower’s Tamanu Oil Barrier Relief Cream which I’m really enjoying. It’s gentle and lightweight on the skin, and I enjoy using it when I’m spending time in London.


Although the effects of pollution can be really frustrating for those with acne-prone skin (like me), making sure you cleanse effectively and help protect yourself from free-radicals! I hope you found this post useful, and please subscribe to be notified when I post; it really helps me to keep doing the thing that I love.

Comment below where you live and if air pollution is an issue there!


Jazmin xx


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