Skip to content
Toronto skyline including the CN tower obscured by a haze of air pollution

Pollution and Skincare

I love city life in the summertime. There’s always an event to check out or a beautiful park to relax in. I enjoy strolling through the neighbourhood with my dog and a cold-brewed iced tea in hand. But with all the joy that a hot summer day in the city brings me, it comes with a downside—complexion changes. 

It’s completely normal for your skin to change with the seasons. In the summer, it’s common to experience an increase in breakouts. This happens for a few reasons:

  • You’re (hopefully) applying a lot more sunscreen in addition to the SPF that you apply as part of your morning skincare routine. This can lead to clogged pores.
  • The hot, humid air increases sweat and sebum production which can also clog the pores.
  • Increased air pollution in the summer can also have a negative impact on the skin.

While the first two items seem pretty obvious, you may be surprised to read that air pollution can wreak havoc on your skin. 

How pollution affects the skin

There are many different types of airborne pollutants including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, ground level ozone and more. Fires, vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke and industrial plants all release pollutants into the atmosphere. These pollutants land on the surface of the skin and, depending on the size of the particles, can be absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin. 

Studies show that pollution, specifically particulate matter, can weaken the skin barrier.(1) When the skin barrier is compromised, transepidermal water loss increases. This leads to dry, itchy skin that is prone to inflammation and sensitivity. 

As if a weakened skin barrier isn’t bad enough, research suggests that ground-level ozone can reduce the levels of vitamin C and vitamin E in the skin.(2) Vitamins C and E are both powerful antioxidants that help fight oxidative damage caused by free radicals. A reduction in these essential vitamins can lead to premature signs of aging. 

Some recent studies also suggest that pollution can increase sebum production and cause acne breakouts.(2)

How to protect your skin from pollution

Unfortunately, avoiding pollution just isn’t possible. Instead, we must take steps to protect our skin from the harmful effects of airborne pollutants. 

Wash your face

As I mentioned, pollutants can build up on the skin’s surface. Thoroughly washing your face with a gentle cleanser is essential for good skin health. It helps to remove dead skin cells, sebum, sweat and of course, pollution. 

Woman washing her face. Leaning over a sink with running water and a bottle of Graydon Skincare Aloe Milk Cleanser and a Bamboo Charcoal Sponge next to the faucet.

Our Aloe Milk Cleanser is a great option for combating the effects of pollution on the skin. This gentle, non-foaming cleanser is formulated with niacinamide (AKA: vitamin B3), which helps to strengthen the skin barrier and regulate sebum production. Aloe Milk Cleanser also contains antioxidant-rich black tea to help neutralize free radicals and aloe vera, which contains vitamins C and E. If you remember, these two vitamins are reduced by pollution. 

Reinforce your skin barrier

As the outermost layer of the skin (AKA: the stratum corneum), your skin barrier is the first line of defence against environmental stressors including pollution. It’s made up of dead skin cells that are held together by cholesterol, fatty acids and ceramides

After cleansing, apply a moisturizer that strengthens the skin barrier. Skin Stuff Face + Eye Cream is formulated with ceramides that help to create a protective shield against pollution. Not only that, it contains maple sap water to deeply hydrate the skin. And best of all, Skin Stuff is ultralight weight so it won’t feel heavy on the skin in hot summer weather.

Use skincare products with anti-pollution ingredients

There are many skincare ingredients that can help fight the skin concerns caused by airborne pollution. However, products that contain anti-pollution ingredients add an extra bit of protection.

Supermoon Serum is our lightweight water-based serum. In addition to botanical retinol, we formulated Supermoon Serum with two powerful and natural anti-pollution ingredients to help shield your skin from oxidative stress caused by environmental pollutants.

Our anti-pollution ingredients

In addition to proper cleansing and protecting your skin barrier, choosing skincare products with anti-pollution ingredients is a great idea! We use two anti-pollution ingredients in our Supermoon Serum.

Anti-pollution complex

The anti-pollution complex that we use in our Supermoon is derived from moringa oliefera seed extract. Interestingly, moringa is commonly used to purify water because it has the ability to attract and trap particles.(3) 

This is also what makes it such a powerful anti-pollution ingredient. Moringa helps prevent airborne pollution particles from adhering to the skin, essentially creating a protective barrier. 

Tests conducted using our anti-pollution complex and coal dust show that it repels the adhesion of coal particles to the skin. By reducing the amount of airborne pollutants that stick to the skin, free radical damage and inflammation are also reduced. A study published in 2020 shows that moringa seed oil is also a powerful antioxidant and helps to increase skin hydration.(4)

Malachite extract

In addition to our anti-pollution complex made of moringa oliefera seed extract, our Supermoon Serum is also formulated with malachite extract. While it’s not a superfood, malachite extract is a powerfully-natural ingredient derived from the semi-precious gemstone. 

Tests conducted on the malachite extract in Supermoon Serum show that it traps components of air pollution, such as toxins, solvents and heavy metals, and works to detoxify the skin. Malachite extract also boasts powerful antioxidant properties to protect the skin from oxidative damage.

But that’s not all! Malachite extract is also rich in copper, which is known to increase collagen and elastin so that the skin appears firmer and plumper. 

Summary

Airborne pollutants cause:

  • dry, itchy and dehydrated skin;
  • skin inflammation and sensitivity;
  • increased sebum production and breakouts;
  • premature signs of aging from free radical damage.

Protect your skin from pollutants by:

  • washing your face with a gentle cleanser like our Aloe Milk Cleanser;
  • reinforcing your skin barrier with a ceramide moisturizer like our Skin Stuff Face and Eye Cream;
  • using products with anti-pollution ingredients like our Supermoon Serum, which contains moringa oliefera seed extract and malachite extract.
Previous article No Guilt Chocolate Brittle
Graydon's insiders club

Be the first to know about sales and product launches, get monthly Insider's Perks and access to exclusive deals while learning about skincare, with tips and tricks from Mindful Beauty Magazine.

Latest articles

Compare products

{"one"=>"Select 2 or 3 items to compare", "other"=>"{{ count }} of 3 items selected"}

Select first item to compare

Select second item to compare

Select third item to compare

Compare