The Journal of Investigative Dermatology published the results of a German study investigating the effect of air pollution on skin aging in 400 Caucasian women aged 70-80. It found that test subjects who lived in high pollution areas had a higher incidence of pigment spots, and to a lesser extent, more wrinkles.
Levels of skin aging were determined using the SCINEXA (Validated Score of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Skin Aging) which takes into account a variety of internal and external influences on the skin, including sun exposure and the ability to synthesize connective tissue proteins (such as collagen and elastin) which generally decreases with age. Other factors which affect skin aging were also taken into consideration on an individual level such as body mass index, use of hormone replacement therapy, smoking history, and tanning bed usage.
Pollution exposure levels were determined by measurements of the distance between a participant’s home and the nearest major roadway with traffic volume of 10,000 or more vehicles per day combined with nearby readings of airborne particulates taken from fixed monitoring sites near the participants' homes, generally in residential areas of cities without busy traffic.
According to the study, “An increase in soot (per 0.5 × 10(-5) per m) and particles from traffic (per 475 kg per year and square km) was associated with 20% more pigment spots on forehead and cheeks.”
As the effects of pollution on skin aging become more widely understood, the skin care industry is busy developing new skin protection products. One product, SymHelios® 1031, is already available commercially as an ingredient. It claims to minimize “the harmful impact that cigarette smoke or air pollution can have on the skin” by blocking specific harmful metabolic reactions.
It seems likely that consumers can expect to see new anti-aging products advertising skin protection against pollution on store shelves soon.
Airborne particle exposure and extrinsic skin aging
J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Dec;130(12):2719-26. Epub 2010 Jul 22
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