How your skin care could protect you from pollution

Story highlights

  • Air pollution may aggravate skin conditions such as acne and skin cancer
  • Anti-pollution products aim to protect against UV rays and fight oxidation

(CNN)Like many teenagers, Nicolas Travis struggled with severe acne. But he did something about it.

"My experience with acne sparked off my passion for skin care," the 30-year-old said. "I wanted to go back to basics and treat the most fundamental aspect of skin health: a healthy barrier."
    Nicolas Travis' struggles with acne as a teen prompted his interest in skin care.
    Growing up in Asia, where air pollution is rampant, Travis wanted to protect his skin against pollution, which he thinks aggravated his acne. It took him years to get it under control after trying a number of products such as antibiotics and cortisone shots.
    "Pollution is a huge contributor of inflammation, and you can't really run away from it," Travis said.
    Allies of Skin products use antioxidants to protect skin.
    The Singaporean man studied biomedical and pharmaceutical science at the University of Bradford in the UK and, in 2016, launched a skin care company, Allies of Skin. The products aim to utilize the antioxidant properties of ingredients such as Moringa and Manuka honey, which are thought to help strengthen the structure of skin and fight damaging molecules -- in turn, protecting it.

    Pollution and your skin

    Air pollution can lead to skin aging and the worsening of inflammatory skin diseases like eczema, acne and psoriasis, said Dr. Chan Yung, a dermatologist who consults with the Matilda International Hospital in Hong Kong. It can also increase the risk of skin cancer.
    Yung recommends combating these effects by wearing sunscreen and a hat, even using an umbrella during the daytime. But he also advises the use of an antioxidant to help reduce oxidative stress from free radicals.
    A topical antioxidant is best, he said, because the oral absorption of vitamins is limited, leaving the amount available for skin further reduced.