Sun, UV rays and Pollution: a harmful combination for the skin
While we have been aware of the dangers of the sun and UV rays for the skin for several decades now, the dangers of pollution are still largely unknown, especially when it's associated with UV rays.
For the past 15 years, La Roche-Posay has been studying the impact of atmospheric pollution on the skin. It has identified pollutants as a factor that increases sensitivity in people suffering from inflammatory skin conditions such as acne1 2, urticaria3 and eczema3. These advanced studies also revealed the harmful effects of the combined action of UV rays and pollutants, from which the skin must be protected. When pollutants are combined with UV rays, they generate a negative synergy: the accumulated damage from pollutants combined with UV rays is more serious than the damage caused from two of them separate.
What are the effects of a combination of UV rays and pollution?
The skin is the first barrier against external attacks. In the presence of atmospheric pollution, it is altered and no longer fulfils its role of protecting the epidermis. The main pollutants which affect the skin are:
- Ozone: by oxidising sebum, ozone damages the cutaneous barrier and causes inflammation1.
- Fine particles: Their size varies but PM2.5 are potentially the most harmful. They cling to the skin and become lodged in the pores, possibly penetrating down to the epidermis.
The result: Pollution is affecting skin integrity: The skin barrier is altered and cutaneous oxidative-stress and inflammation occurs, worsening skin sensitivity.
Moreover, the effect of pollutants is increased by heat, the sun, and UVA and UVB rays which are also responsible for the occurrence of pigmentation disorders and skin aging.
Very high protection to ensure the skin is protected and preserved
On a daily basis our skin is exposed to atmospheric pollution and UV rays which irradiate the surface of the Earth. UVB affects the epidermis and can cause sunburn and inflammation, while UVA is mainly responsible for oxidative stress and photo-ageing. Both UVA and UVB are involved in skin cancer development. Suncare products not only protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays but also prevent polluting particles from sticking to the epidermis, preventing the damage caused by harmful synergic action.
UVA has relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year, and can penetrate clouds and glass. For optimal protection, wear sun protection everyday to protect your skin against UVA.
Enhance your anti-pollution routine
In order to ensure your skin is effectively protected from the harmful effects of pollution, do not forget to cleanse your skin well both morning and evening to get rid of the impurities caused by pollution and other factors, and to strengthen your cutaneous barrier by using a skincare product adapted to your skin type.
1 Source: L'Oréal Research & Innovation, Pham DM, Boussouira B, Moyal D, and Nguyen QL, Oxidization of squalene, a human skin lipid: a new and reliable marker of environmental pollution studies, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2015, 1–9.
2 Source: L'Oréal Research & Innovation, Lefebvre MA, Pham DM, Boussouira B, Bernard D, Camus C and Nguyen QL, Evaluation of the impact of urban pollution on the quality of skin: a multicentre study in Mexico, 2015, 1–10.
3 Source: Kim J, Kim EH, Oh I, Jung K, Han Y, Cheong HK, et al. Symptoms of atopic dermatitis are influenced by outdoor pollution. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2013;132:495–7.