Skin Sins – Pollution and Smoking

We are exposed to trillions of free radicals everyday making it possible for pollutants to be inhaled, ingested or absorbed by the skin. Cars, cigarettes and second hand smoke and factories are some of the causes of airborne pollutions. Since the skin acts as a barrier between the organism and the environment, it is frequently directly exposed to pollution. Pollutants can become extremely toxic for the vital organs as it can change the genetic material of a cell and even cause mutations.

pollution 1

Pollutants and smoking form molecule monsters known as free radicals. Free radicals are what is known as an unpaired electron making it extremely reactive enabling it to cause changes within a healthy cell. (see fig1)

free radicals

These free radicals damage lipids, proteins, and DNA, all of which limit the ability of cells to function and cripple the integrity of overall cell composition in turn weakening the barrier.


The skin filters environmental irritants like air pollution, collecting them in the epidermis, which will eventually shed off.  However, the number of people with weakened skin barrier layers is increasing, so these people become more susceptible to pollutants. There are many reasons for this including over-exposure to Skin Sins like the sun, and toxic chemical skin care ingredients.

Pollution and smoking effects on ageing

Air pollutants and smoking depletes the skin’s oxygen levels and promotes the production of free radicals. This decreases collagen and elastin production, causing the skin to thin and become less elastic, and giving rise to sagging, fine lines, and wrinkles. Further studies have also shown pollution to breakdown Vitamin E in the skin, a natural forming antioxidant that fights free radicals.

Pollution and smoking effects on other skin concerns

Toxins and particles can also clog open pores and hair follicles. Interfering with the skin’s ability to shed dead cells and can lead to acne infections like acne cysts, blackheads, papules, pustules, and whiteheads.

In the long-term air pollution can cause inflammatory, and allergic skin reactions such as eczema, rashes and broken capillaries.