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  • by Nicola Boulton September 05, 2022 6 min read

    How to Protect Your Skin from Pollution and Radiation

    Do you know how to protect your skin from pollution and radiation damage? This article discusses; the skin, layers of the skin, causes of skin damage, effects of radiation, and how to protect the skin from damage.

    The skin is the biggest organ in the human body. It is the first line of protection against pathogens, irritants, toxins, and viruses that have the potential to make you sick or cause significant damage. Certain skin regions may develop wrinkles, narrow, and become more brittle when aging. The skin's susceptibility to crack and the appearance of aging can be increased by factors such as blue light, environmental pollution, and direct exposure to the sun, particularly in areas that are more exposed. You can engage in frequent exercising to protect your skin and slow down the indications of aging.

    The Skin

    Shamsaei et al. (2018) commented that the skin has remarkable features that help maintain good health. It performs various essential duties, such as shielding the body from the outside world and housing nerve receptors that let you experience pain, touch, and pressure, among other sensations. It helps regulate the body temperature and maintains a healthy fluid balance throughout your body.

    The Three Layers of the Skin

    Sharma et al. (2017) identified that the most superficial layer of the skin is called the epidermis. It is composed of protein, dead skin cells, and melanin. Melanin provides skin its pigment. Keratin, the primary protein in the epidermis, plays a vital role in the skin's protective functions.

    The dermis is located at the center of the body. Oil glands, lymph vessels, nerve cells, blood vessels, and more skin cells are all found within it. This layer gives the epidermis the nourishment it needs to function correctly. The layer that lies directly beneath the dermis is the subcutaneous layer. It comprises sweat glands, fat cells, an increased number of blood vessels, and even a few hair follicles.

    Connective tissue, made up of fibers and helps the structure maintain its strength and flexibility, is present in all three layers. Collagen is a type of protein that helps keep the design of the epidermis and gives the skin its resilience. Elastin is a protein that aids in the skin's ability to return to its original shape after being stretched, hence maintaining the skin's elasticity.

    Causes of Skin Damage

    Alfredsson et al. (2017) stated that several factors, including genetics, lifestyle choices (such as smoking), nutrition, and the environment, affect how quickly the skin ages. The sun is the single most crucial factor in skin aging.

    Ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight harms the cells that make up the skin. The greater the time spent in daylight, the higher the risk of skin cancer. This frequently results in premature aging of the skin, which is referred to as photoaging.

    How light or dark your skin is and how easily it burns both play a role in how quickly the signs of photoaging appear:

    • Fair skin that never darkens and constantly turns red when exposed to the sun: Hyperpigmentation, often known as age spots, and wrinkling and rough, scaly patches on the skin (actinic keratosis).
    • Having skin that tans readily or over time and only becomes slightly burned: Deep wrinkles, a leathery appearance, increased skin thickness, and hyperpigmentation is signs of Aging Skin.
    • Dark skin that tans quickly and burns very infrequently or not: Nasolabial folds, often known as smile lines, deep creases on the sides of the mouth, mottled pigmentation, and patches of uneven skin color are all signs of aging (dyschromia).

    The likelihood of developing skin cancer is further exacerbated by prolonged sun exposure. Most people who get cancer have some form of skin cancer. Damage caused by ultraviolet light to skin cells can alter how the cells grow and divide, sometimes resulting in these cells developing cancer. Melanoma accounts for many skin cancer deaths, accounting for only one percent of all disease cases.

    Effects of Radiation and How You Can Protect Your Skin from Radiation Damage

    • Cut back on how much time you spend in the sun. Stay out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to protect your skin.
    • Make sure to take extra precautions during the months of spring and summer, when UV radiation is at its peak.
    • Acquire a keen awareness of your surroundings.

    Hoseinpourfard et al. (2018)  added that UV rays are amplified when they reflect off reflective surfaces such as snow, water, sand, and pavement, resulting in a greater risk for sun damage. UV light is more potent at higher elevations and closer to the equator. Both of these factors contribute to increased skin cancer risk.

    Always protect your skin by applying sunscreen. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater to skin that is not protected against the sun should be a part of your daily routine. This should be done even on cloudy days and throughout the winter months. Clouds do not block UV rays, so it is possible to be exposed to UV radiation at any time of the year. Sunscreen should be applied at least half an hour before going outside and reapplied every two hours after swimming or sweating heavily. Because damage from the sun and cancer caused by UV light can occur on people of any skin hue, it is important to wear sunscreen.

    Put on the appropriate protective gear. Put on a hat with a wide brim so that it can shield your face, ears, and neck from the sun. Protective clothing like long sleeves, slacks, and dark, tightly woven materials can help filter ultraviolet (UV) rays. Choose clothes that were made expressly to help to block sunlight, and put on sunglasses that block UV rays.

    How to Protect your Skin from Pollution

    Fussell & Kelly (2020) concluded that air pollutants hasten the skin's aging process. Particulate matter includes soot and traffic pollution, and substances like nitrous oxide float through the air and can produce skin hyperpigmentation. Indoor air pollution is just as prevalent as outdoor air pollution. Chemicals such as cigarette smoke and heating or cooking with dirty fuel have been linked to wrinkling skin on the hands and face. The skin regularly subjected to cigarette smoke can become wrinkled and leathery with time.

    Skin that has been harmed by environmental pollution also has an increased chance of getting skin cancer, much as skin that has been exposed to UV rays.

    Skin Care Ways from Pollution

    Vitamin C: The amount of vitamin C in your skin will decrease due to exposure to air pollution and UV radiation. A topical solution containing at least 15% L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can help reduce hyperpigmentation, stimulate collagen production, and protect the skin from further harm.

    Vitamin E: The amount of vitamin E in the skin can be depleted by exposure to UV light and breathing in polluted air. When shopping for skincare products, look for those that contain between 2 and 5 percent -tocopherol, often known as vitamin E. This can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and protect your skin from the Effects of Pollution in the future.

    Ferulic acid: Skincare products that contain ferulic acid in addition to vitamins C and E help to stabilize the formula, making it more effective at decreasing the indications of aging and guarding against future harm.


    When you properly care for your skin, you are also properly caring for its natural barrier, which is known as the epidermis. Ensure that your skin retains its natural lipid barrier and level of hydration. Moisturizers either provide water to the epidermis or help it retain moisture, both of which are essential for skin that is well moisturized. To restore your skin's lipid barrier, look for moisturizers, including ceramides. Petroleum jelly is excellent when skin is already irritated or inflamed or when you wish to protect your skin against cold and windy weather.


    Fussell, J. C., & Kelly, F. J. (2020). Oxidative Contribution Of Air Pollution To Extrinsic Skin Ageing. Free Radical Biology & Medicine, 151, 111.

    Izadi, M., Jonaidi-Jafari, N., Pourazizi, M., Alemzadeh-Ansari, M. H., & Hoseinpourfard, M. J. (2018). Photokeratitis Induced By Ultraviolet Radiation In Travelers: A Major Health Problem. Journal Of Postgraduate Medicine, 64(1), 40.

    Olsson, T., Barcellos, L. F., & Alfredsson, L. (2017). Interactions Between Genetic, Lifestyle And Environmental Risk Factors For Multiple Sclerosis. Nature Reviews Neurology, 13(1), 25-36.

    Pegues, J., Roach, M., Williamson, R. S., & Shamsaei, N. (2018). Surface Roughness Effects On The Fatigue Strength Of Additively Manufactured Ti-6Al-4V. International Journal Of Fatigue, 116, 543-552.

    Yousef, H., Alhajj, M., & Sharma, S. (2017). Anatomy, Skin (Integument), Epidermis.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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