How Air Pollution is Rapidly Aging Our Skin

Pollution is more than just a bummer for the environment, it’s a bummer for our skin as well. There’s more behind our dull and tired looking skin than just lack of sleep, as air pollution has been linked to many skin damage conditions including early aging.

Those who live in heavily populated cities especially will experience this at some point in their lives.

What Pollution Does to Skin

While air pollution will cause the skin to appear dull over time, it’s the toxic air pollutants that cause the most problems. Ozone is a poisonous pollutant found in the air, and it has a negative effect on the natural oils that lay on top of our skin. Other pollutants that wreak havoc on our skin are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, oxides, particulate matter, and cigarette smoke. While the skin does provide protection from these harmful pollutants to a certain extent, prolonged exposure will eventually take its toll on a person’s appearance.

Aside from premature aging, air pollution has also been linked to eczema, atopic dermatitis, acne, and even skin cancer. Sunscreens and moisturizers don’t help, as sunscreen will only protect the skin from UV rays and moisturizer only adds oils to the skin. On the plus side, air pollution tends to block the sun, protecting the skin from UV rays.

How to Prevent Skin Damage Caused by Air Pollution

While the beauty industry is currently working to create products that will keep the skin healthy regardless of the amount of contact with air pollution, there is a single product that has been proven to help. Antioxidants are the only way to prevent damage caused by air pollution. Vitamin C and Vitamin E both contain antioxidants that are best for avoiding premature aging caused by pollutants.

While taking vitamins can be great, certain foods naturally contain these antioxidants. If you live in a heavily populated city, stock your fridge and kitchen cabinets with a few of these items to ensure your skin maintains its youthful glow:

  • Green tea keeps the skin hydrated
  • White tea and jasmine tea without milk or sugar give your skin its glow
  • Colorful fruits and vegetable such as tomatoes, oranges, lemons, and spinach
  • Dark, bitter chocolate
  • Red wine

Repairing Damaged Skin

Fortunately, for those who haven’t been keeping up with their intake of antioxidants, there are ways to reverse any skin damage caused by air pollution. The main idea behind these kinds of solutions is to get rid of the damaged skin cells. Treatments like chemical peels and facials remove the top the layer of the skin, but that isn’t always enough to reverse the deep wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging.

Laser skin rejuvenation is currently the leading nonsurgical treatment for age reversal, as the lasers are able to target damaged skin cells deep within the layers of the skin. Fractional lasers allow medical laser technicians to make small wounds in the layers of the skin without affecting the outer layer. These wounds force the body to naturally develop new and healthy skin cells, which take the place of the damaged skin cells and eliminate any wrinkles or fine lines in the skin.

Additionally, laser rejuvenation encourages collagen production, which is a natural protein that gives the skin its tightness and elasticity. Unfortunately, the body’s ability to make collagen significantly slows down as we age and eventually stops altogether when a person reaches their thirties. Laser rejuvenation is one of the few skin treatments that can bring back the skin’s collagen and elasticity, as the heat produced by the lasers stimulate growth.

Aside from fine lines and wrinkles, laser skin rejuvenation can be used to treat several other skin imperfections, such as:

  • Acne marks
  • Age spots
  • Large pores
  • Rosacea
  • Sun spots
  • Skin discoloration
  • Freckles
  • Scars

Understanding the Different Lasers

With so many different treatments out there claiming to do the same things, it’s easy to feel lost when looking for the right laser clinic to treat your skin concerns. One of the first things that need to be done is to check a few local places to see what kind of lasers will be used for your laser rejuvenation treatments, as different lasers will show drastically different side effects, results, and recovery times.

Ablative vs. Nonablative Lasers

Ablative lasers have been used since laser skin rejuvenation was first introduced into the beauty industry, and is considered to be an invasive procedure that likely requires anesthesia. The laser creates visible wounds during the treatment, which stimulates new skin cell production. While just a single treatment is required, laser rejuvenation using ablative lasers requires several days or weeks of time to fully heal. Treatments aren’t limited to the face and can be performed anywhere on the body where skin imperfections are found.

Nonablative lasers are a newer technology that is able to create microscopic wounds to stimulate new skin cell growth, making it a noninvasive laser. These treatments do not require anesthesia, but some people will opt for using a numbing cream or a cryogenic cooling device to numb the skin during the laser process. Using a nonablative laser means less damage is done to the skin, so little to no downtime is required after laser sessions. In fact, many people find that they can have their treatments done on their lunch break, as they tend to only take an average of twenty minutes. Depending on what kind of imperfections are being treated, several laser sessions may be required.

Aside from ensuring the laser clinic you go to is using the right laser for you and your desired results, it’s also important to make sure the people administering treatments are qualified. Too often clinics will pop up claiming to be able to perform all different kinds of laser procedures, yet their technicians have little training and are using the wrong lasers. Your laser technician should hold a medical degree as well as a laser technician license. Many laser clinics will take training a step further and make their new employees take classes to learn their specific laser brands from the manufacturer. It’s these people who you want to be handling your laser rejuvenation needs.

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Paul A. Boulos
Dr. Paul A. Boulos is an excellent and versatile cosmetic surgeon, passionate about his vocation and helping others. Dr. Boulos is an alumni of Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his General Surgery training at Inspira Medical in Southern New Jersey. He studied and learn under Dr. Joseph Castellano, one of the premier breast and body Cosmetic Surgeons in South Florida. He currently works as a Cosmetic Surgeon at Jolie Plastic Surgery in Miami, FL.