The cost of the commute on your skin

By [email protected] 26th January 2022 Category: Advice

As we make a ‘gradual return to the office’ we will once again be taking on the rush hour. But after over 18 months of pollution-free commuting, we ask a Consultant Dermatologist what toll will it have on our skin?


Not only has working from home for the past 18 months saved us a small fortune – £7,671 on average for Londoners[1] – but it’s also spared our skin from the daily grime of air pollution.

Statistics from The Department of Health suggest that pollution concentration is as much as 20 per cent greater during the working week, compared with the weekend. As well serious environmental implications and health consequences, pollution can have an ageing impact on our skin. But just how much do we understand about the effects of pollution and how to protect our skin from it?

New insight from leading skincare clinic group sk:n has shown that whilst 78% of people across the UK are concerned about the effect of pollution on their skin, only a tiny 23% know how to protect their skin from harm. So, as we head back into the office, how can we limit the negative impact on the condition of our skin?

Consultant Dermatologist at sk:n, Jinah Yoo explains more:

    There are several mechanisms by which air pollution can affect the skin. Ozone, which is one of the major air pollutants, generates free radicals (a toxic by-product of oxidation) which leads to a reduction in the antioxidants in our skin, as well as disrupting collagen production and destroying the skin’s barrier. As a result, it promotes skin ageing.

    With long-term exposure to air pollutants, you may see the signs of skin ageing which will appear as wrinkles, brown spots, uneven skin tone, dehydration and losing elasticity of the skin.

    Air pollutants also cause skin inflammation and increased pigment production. Some studies have shown pollution can result in up to a 50% reduction in skin microflora, which are a group of microorganisms living on our skin to protect against harmful bacteria.

    What’s more, some of the air pollutants are small enough to penetrate into pores which can be trapped and cause acne-like spots.

    Concentrations of Ozone peak due to prolonged hot and sunny conditions, such as heat waves, with exposure much higher for those living in urban areas which accounts for 83% of all Brits[2].

When it comes to protecting your skin against pollution, Jinah recommends:

    There are four important daily skincare steps you should consider: deep cleansing, antioxidant application, moisturiser and sunscreen.

    Firstly, deep cleansing at night will help to remove pollutants accumulated on the surface of the skin during the daytime.

    After cleansing, application of an antioxidant cream containing vitamin C and E, which inhibits free radical formation, will help to delay the skin ageing process caused by extrinsic factors such as air pollution or UV. However, choosing the right antioxidant and using it correctly is important. Vitamin C cream comes in various concentrations (5-20%), it is best to start with a low concentration, then gradually increase the concentration as starting with high strength can occasionally cause skin irritation. As vitamin C oxidises quickly, storing it in a cool, dark place with a tightly sealed container and looking for a product containing ferulic acid with vitamin C and E which improves stability of antioxidants can reduce the concern over stability. Antioxidants need to be used for at least 6 months before seeing any significant improvement.

    Keeping the skin well-moisturised will also help to maintain an intact skin barrier. And finally, using sun cream which contains UV and visible light block will help to reduce signs of skin ageing.

Whilst maintaining a good daily skincare routine will help protect your skin from damage, there are a variety of treatments that can help improve skin pigmentation and tone whilst rejuvenating the skin. sk:n provide tailored solutions for each individual client and offer in depth consultations which include a FREE skin analysis with a member of their expert medical team.

Air Quality Statistics in the UK 1987 -2018
skn consumer survey, 200 UK adults, 25-60

For more information, please contact the sk:n press office on [email protected] or 0117 973 3300


sk:n is the UK’s leading medical skincare clinic group offering world leading dermatology expertise on the high street. With over 100 doctors at 52 state-of-the-art clinics nationwide, sk:n provides more highly medically trained staff than any other chain of clinics. Offering more than 200 clinically proven treatments ranging from laser hair removal to anti-aging injectables, acne solutions to tattoo removal and traditional dermatology treatments, sk:n offers world leading expertise that you can trust.

For more information, please visit:

[1] HR Director July 2020
[2] Rural Economic Bulletin for England, May 2018

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