Pollution May Be Causing Those Age Spots on Your Skin

Did you know pollution can age you? Age spots, often blamed solely on sun exposure, may result from air pollution too. Dark spots on the face, often regarded as a sign of one too many days spent lounging in the sun, have been linked to air pollution according to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. This landmark study was the first to link facial age spots to poor air quality.
Age spots, also known as liver spots or sun spots, are irregular, flat brown or black spots with well-defined edges. They often look like freckles, but they can be much larger – the size of a dime is not uncommon. Large ones can look like a large tan blotch on the skin. Age spots may show up anywhere on the body, but the face is one of the most common places they’re seen since facial skin is exposed to the environment much more than other body parts.
Age spots typically appear around age 50 and upward, and are a telltale sign of excess melanin production in the skin. We typically associate age spots with old age for this reason. Simply put, age spots make you look older.
Age spots form when skin produces too much melanin. Melanin, is the stuff in skin that activates as you tan from the sun, and gives skin pigment. Some pigment cells are overactive and create too much of it, leading to an unsightly dark spot. While many people love that sun-kissed glow, it has long been established that limiting sun exposure is a key way to prevent sun-damaged skin. But now we know that pollution can cause facial age spots too. What’s new is that science now links nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from traffic emissions to age spots on the face.
Traffic congestion is a major source, according to researchers. Cars, buses, planes, and trains all create poor air quality. Pollution from congested motorways increases soot and particulates from emissions, and study participants living near heavy-traffic areas had a higher incidence of age spots on the face. Scientists found that people living in such areas for 30 or more years had an average of 20 percent more age spots than people living in lower-traffic areas.
So how does air pollution cause age spots? The jury is still out on how exactly this happens, but the link between them is clear. Researchers suggest that airborne particles from traffic emissions containing NO2 penetrate the skin (they’re not exactly sure how this occurs just yet), which may trigger melanocytes in deep layers of the skin. Pollution also increases free radicals in the body, which can cause all sorts of harm to otherwise healthy skin.
Your surroundings influence your exposure to toxins in the air. You may wonder how polluted the air is around you. If you live in an urban area, near a highway, or some other heavily-trafficked area, chances are you are surrounded by higher rates of air pollution. Large cities from New York to London and beyond all certainly have higher air pollution than what is considered safe or normal.
You may find this news alarming, but let’s face it, chances are you can’t just pick up and move to the countryside, and maybe that’s not the life for you. As a city dweller, you need to know how to protect yourself from environmental toxins. To shield your skin from polluted air, your game plan should include a healthy dose of topical antioxidants. Luckily, there are plenty of products you can use in your skincare routine from cleansers to lotions to reduce the impact of air pollution.
griffin+row offers a number of skincare products with antioxidant and free radical protection in mind. With a complete line of anti-ageing skin care products ranging from cleansers to nourishing night cream and everything in between, griffin+row helps keep skin healthy, strong, and protected.
Topical skin care products are one of the best ways to shield your skin from environmental damage. Here are some other ways to keep your skin healthy and protected:
• Limit exposure to areas with high traffic congestion
• Add antioxidant-rich foods to your diet
• Avoid strong sun, especially between peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Download a weather app to your phone to check the sun’s UV index daily
• Use sunscreen religiously
• See a dermatologist right away if any age spots change in appearance or increase in size