Genetics and environmental factors play a significant role when it comes to skin health. Pollution exists everywhere, whether you live in a big city or the suburbs. Vehicle emissions, chemical production fumes, fossil fuels, burning of garbage, agricultural processes, and construction can dramatically impact the environment and our skin. If you’re wondering how to protect your skin from pollution, here are our tips to fortify your skin’s defense against common pollutants.

How Does Pollution Affect Your Skin?

Pollution is one of the main environmental aggressors our skin battles throughout the day. It’s also incredibly degrading and irritating. Aside from UV rays, pollution can cause different skin ailments, including, but not limited to, the following issues:

Wrinkles and Fine Lines

Pollution with UV exposure is one of the leading causes of photoaging: premature skin ages due to environmental factors. Pollution causes oxidative stress in the skin by releasing free radicals. This is why antioxidants like Vitamin C and botanical extracts have become so popular in morning skincare products by neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative damage to the skin.
Defending and protecting your skin with sunscreen and antioxidants is non-negotiable in an AM skincare routine. Pollution and UV rays induce extensive skin damage but using Solvaderm’s Photo-Age Defense System fortifies your skin’s natural defense system. This complete defense kit includes four products packed with potent antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and sunscreen, designed to treat existing damage and prevent future photoaging.


When exposed to higher levels of urban pollution, the skin darkens over time, resulting in hyperpigmentation. It can be generalized all over the body or focus on specific areas of the face, also called melasma. Pollution is a leading factor of hyperpigmentation, and when coupled with UV exposure, it causes the skin to darken drastically. 
Smog, a form of pollution that limits air visibility, is found in urban cities and can worsen hyperpigmentation. This type of air pollution settles within the pore lining to cause breakouts that can lead to post-acne scarring, discoloration, and dark spots.


If you feel like you’ve exhausted your options in your battle against acne, it might be time to evaluate your environment and switch up your pollution skincare routine. As noted above, air pollution settles into the pores and can cause breakouts. Since pollution consists of dirt and debris, it’s no surprise that pimples develop when moving to a new city.
If you tend to break out from certain foods, you might also want to inspect your drinking water since water pollution can affect skin integrity.

Dry Skin

Pollution makes it hard for moisture to last. It can severely dehydrate the skin, resulting in excess sebum production to support neutralizing moisture and reduce surface dryness and irritation. In addition, smog, dust, and cigarette smoke can all strip the skin barrier, resulting in dry skin.
If you live in a polluted area and you have dull skin, be sure to examine yourself for signs of dry skin. When the skin becomes excessively dry, it can’t function properly, which makes it prone to breakouts and infections. Additionally, pollution can trigger and exacerbate dry skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.


Skin inflammation can cause photoaging, breakouts, and the previously mentioned skincare issues. When the skin is consistently exposed to free radicals released by pollution, it becomes inflamed, compromising the skin barrier. 
It’s common to develop symptoms of skin inflammation, such as hives, when exposed to the long-term effects of pollution. Hives, also known as urticaria, can be chronic or lifelong. It occurs when the skin swells and itches, either in patches or bumps, after being exposed to an allergen.

Effective Ways To Protect Your Skin From Pollution

When building an AM skincare routine, the most important things you can prioritize are moisture, sunscreen, and antioxidant protection. Ensuring your skin barrier is supple and strong, pumping it full of antioxidants, and covering it in sunscreen are surefire ways to beat skin pollution blues once and for all. Here are our top tips for how to protect skin from pollution:


When aiming to neutralize free radicals released by pollution, it’s important to invest in a serum. Serums penetrate deep within the skin to protect your pores against microscopic pollution particles. After cleansing and toning your skin, apply a serum that focuses on hydration and antioxidant protection to keep your skin barrier strong.
Ace-Ferulic Serum contains ferulic acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to provide full-spectrum protection against free radicals and promotes collagen synthesis. Skin barrier-boosting and loving ingredients like niacinamide (vitamin B3) and hyaluronic acid work to hydrate and strengthen the skin’s natural defense. In a consumer satisfaction survey, 92 percent of users saw a drastic improvement in their skin health within the first four weeks of using Ace Ferulic.

Use Sunscreen

While the effects of pollution are incredibly damaging, sun exposure makes them even worse. Sunscreen forms a protective layer over the skin to prevent pollution and UV rays. Sunscreen rich in antioxidants can almost fully protect the skin from pollution.
SPF 30 is generally considered to be enough for broad-spectrum protection. The Dermaxsol Daily Facial Moisturizer contains SPF30, beeswax, and glycerin to soothe irritation and dryness, form a protective barrier, and hydrate and heal the skin.

Make Use of Face Masks

Since pollution can penetrate the pore lining, it's crucial to give your skin a deep clean once a week to get rid of smog buildup. Detoxifying clay face masks can aid in removing dirt and debris from the skin. By doing so, your regular products will work optimally, since they’ll be able to penetrate deeper within the pore.

Exfoliate Regularly

Regular chemical exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells and speeds up cell turnover. This can prevent dirt, pollution, and bacteria from accumulating within the pores while also peeling back damaged layers of skin to reveal a radiant complexion.
Using Glowpeel Resurfacing Repair Serum three to five times a week can help remove dead, dull, pollution-impacted skin cells and pore debris. With powerful lactic, glycolic, kojic, and pyruvic acids, this serum promotes collagen synthesis, lightens dark spots, and reduces breakouts to combat the effects of pollution. In a study conducted, 100 percent of users within the first two weeks noticed a reduction in hyperpigmentation, age spots, breakouts, and rough texture.

Double Cleanse

Removing your makeup and other facial products after a long day is extremely satisfying, but double cleansing ensures your skin is free from pollution-related debris. Double cleansing is a popular method that consists of two steps: one, makeup removal, and two, the actual cleanse. 
First, use an oil-based cleanser to break down makeup, sunscreen, and any other dirt and grime that your skin may have accumulated from the environment. After wiping the first cleanse, use a foaming cleanser to cleanse the skin. The first cleanse aids in removing oil-based impurities, while the second cleanse removes water-based impurities. The result? Glowing skin that’s free from pollution!

FAQs: How To Protect Your Skin From Pollution

Question #1 – What is the best defense against pollutants affecting the skin?

Solvaderm Daily Hydration System AM is a four-step morning skincare regimen that includes a moisturizer with SPF30 and antioxidant protection that can help form a strong defense against pollution.

Question #2 – How can I protect my skin from dust and dirt?

If you live in an area filled with dust and dirt, Solvaderm Age-Defying System AM is a five-step skincare system that frees the skin from harm throughout the day while retaining its youthful appearance. In addition, using Solvaderm Daily Hydration System PM after a shower at night can also provide the skin with intense hydration and clear the pores of excess oil, dirt, and other impurities.

Key Takeaways

Pollution can have detrimental effects on the skin if skincare is not a priority. By investing in your morning skincare routine, choosing the right products, and double cleansing, you can rest assured your skin is well protected. Finally, investing in a skincare defense system that reverses and protects against photoaging can beat the effects of pollution. After all, we only have one skin, so taking care of it ensures our health and well-being long-term!

Melissa Feldman

Melissa Feldman

Melissa Feldman lives in Toronto, Canada and works as an independent research writer. She has undergraduate degrees in both Teaching and Psychology, and a Master’s degree in Immigration. Melissa is skilled at writing compelling articles and producing academic, marketing, and creative content. She writes about a range of lifestyle topics, including health, fitness, beauty and nutrition. She has more than two decades of experience reviewing and editing publications intended for both public and professional audiences.

Written by Melissa Feldman

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