What pollution REALLY does to your face

What pollution REALLY does to your face: Expert reveals how city living is damaging to your skin (and the 5 ways to prevent it!)

  • FEMAIL talks to skin repair expert Lorena Öberg, based in Harley Street, London 
  • READ MORE: This is exactly how much of every skin product you should be using – and why you’re breaking out

Most people know that pollution can have a harmful effect on our skin – but as we go about our busy lives, it can be easy to ignore the warning signs that we’re suffering because of it. 

Skin repair expert Lorena Öberg, CEO and founder of Lorena Oberg Skincare in Harley Street, London, has shared with FEMAIL the red flags that show your features are being impacted by it and how to reduce the damage.

She has noted that patients needing repair work due to damage caused by air pollution has increased by 75 per cent in the last six months. 

The expert said: ‘It’s no secret that air pollution is bad for us but when I tell the patient that is why they have more fine lines and puffiness, they are shocked’.

Lorena explained that pollution is ‘toxic to skin’ because the ‘pollutant particles can interfere with your skin’s top protective barrier making skin cells vulnerable as the toxins become absorbed into your pores’.

Skin repair expert Lorena Öberg, CEO and founder of Lorena Oberg Skincare in Harley Street, London, has shared with FEMAIL the red flags that show your features are being impacted by  pollution (stock image) 

She claimed: ‘This breakdown of the protective barrier will cause your face to become more prone to premature ageing, dehydration, dullness, uneven skin tone, pigmentation, sensitivity, acne and a range of skin conditions’.

Here she reveals how the different parts on your face are affected and the simple tips to help reduce damage… 

How are the different parts on your face affected? 

Forehead: You could see exaggerated fine lines and blemishes from trapped toxins in your pores on your forehead.

Cheeks: Laughter lines on your cheeks could also be more pronounced which is down to a loss in elasticity and it could also cause your skin to sag in this area. Inflammation can also cause swelling and puffiness.

Jawline: An extension from the cheeks, pressure from above could cause gravity to push the skin down resulting in sagging skin. 

Another major issue with this area is a drastic increase in blemishes (whiteheads and blackheads) from the inevitable contact with dirty hands and devices such as your phone.

Reduce damage by following these simple tips: 


Lorena said: ‘Help shield your face against pollution by prepping your skin and applying your makeup before you leave the house. 

‘If you are prone to applying makeup when you get into work, or worse, on the commute itself, stop. All you are doing with the process is trapping in dirt and toxic pollutants in your pores which will have a double down effect.

‘Cleanse and use a deep hydrating moisturiser as part of your daily skincare routine when you wake up and apply your makeup straight afterwards. 

‘Don’t get tempted to do it on the go as this will cause you longer term problems and excel the ageing process even further.’


She insisted: ‘The first thing you get with air pollution is blackheads or white heads, especially if you have oily skin. 

‘But if you don’t get blackheads or white heads your skin will feel rough, so you need to exfoliate after a day out. 

‘It will almost have a sandpaper feel and that is purely your skin trying to protect itself from all the pollutants. 

‘Therefore, a lot of people who live in a city like London will need good exfoliation, a minimum of 1-3 times per week. This is exactly what I do to unclog pores.’


The expert said: ‘The body has the unbelievable ability to repair itself and it works overtime at night while you are sleep, therefore this is the perfect opportunity to adapt a routine in the evening by applying certain products. 

‘Help boost your skin’s repairing functions by using night-time skincare products that include hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and lock in moisture and retinol to encourage the product of collagen. 

‘Your skin will have a much more even skin tone and will appear brighter and more supple.’


Lorena said: ‘Vitamin C has many benefits but for skin, Vitamin C can help neutralise free radicals which are unstable atoms that leads to skin damage, has the potential to produce natural collagen, reduce hyperpigmentation and heal wounds, such as, acne. 

‘It can be simple to incorporate Vitamin C in your diet – dark green vegetables to citrus fruit are great sources of Vitamin C. 

‘If you commute every day or live in a busy city, it might be a good idea to top up with a Vitamin C supplement to see the skin health benefits.’


The expert added: ‘Some pollutants are activated by UV rays, therefore it is a good habit to apply an SPF moisturiser as part of your morning skincare routine or find a good quality foundation with SPF in and apply evenly. 

‘SPF is also rich in antioxidants, and you can therefore help strengthen the skin, preventing unnecessary wrinkles and dullness by reducing damage.’

Eyes: Your eyes are the most sensitive area and pollution can exaggerate dark circles due to the dullness it causes. 

Dehydration will also result in puffy and sagging eyes which affects the eyebrow area as well as under the eyes.

Lips: The breakdown in collagen can really make your lips show signs of ageing from pollution because the reduced amount of blood flow and oxygen will make your lips thinner and dry causing fine lines to appear.

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