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3 Ways Pollen Could Be Ruining Your Skin, And How To Stop It In Its Tracks

ELLE (UK) logo ELLE (UK) 29/05/2020 Jacqueline Kilikita
© Getty Images

Spring - just saying the word is enough to remind us that we won't have to deal with numb hands, chapped lips and dry cheeks for too long, and that brighter mornings and warmer temperatures are right around the corner.

But what if we were to tell you that with those longer days and an abundance of pretty blooms follows a whole host of skin problems?

According to WGSN, data presented by Estée Lauder Companies at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology, showed that pollen (the fine powdery substance emitted from flowers during germination - biology lesson over) makes up a significant amount of particulate pollution, and has been demonstrated to be damaging to the skin.

Yep, you read that correctly. Similar to the radiance-sapping, pigmentation-producing effects of pollution like car emissions, smoke, chemicals and UV, pollen also has the ability to deliver an attack on cells, which means it isn't just a runny nose, itchy eyes and constant sneezing we have to contend with.

So what exactly are we dealing with and how can we stop it?

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1) Pollen Can 'Inhibit Collagen Production'

In short, collagen is the protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity, and without it, skin tends to look slack, deflated and peppered with fine lines and wrinkles - not cool.

How To Stop It:

Before you think about shutting yourself in doors this spring, consider that Estée Lauder also concluded that antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are effective in shielding against the skin-ravaging effects of pollen. And according to dermatologists, vitamin C is pretty much essential for collagen synthesis.

Check out ELLE's pick of the best vitamin C serums for your face here.

2) Pollen Can 'Damage The Skin's Barrier Function'

If the skin's barrier function is weakened, skin tends to become dry, itchy and irritated - and that's the last thing you need after a winter of exactly the same problems, right?

To counteract the damage, it pays to look out for ingredients that are going to re-build the skin's barrier. The ones that derms rave about? Ceramides. Our skin actually produces ceramides (basically oils) naturally, but thanks to an onslaught of things like pollution, and now pollen, the levels take a bit of a dip, and therefore need replenishing.

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How To Stop It:

- CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion, £12, available from 5th March at Boots

With ceramides and hyaluronic acid, this intensely hydrating but incredibly lightweight moisturiser is like filler for limp skin. It sinks in in seconds and leaves your face feeling plump and looking healthy. Pick up the SPF version for extra protection against free radicals like UV - both are non-comedogenic, so won't block your pores.

- Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules, £39

Twist the capsule and smooth the ceramide-packed serum over a clean face to rebuild cells and reflate skin. We haven't had any dull, dry patches since using them.

Antioxidant vitamin E also works to neutralise pesky free radicals before they can do any damage and, according to the experts, it is one of the most intensely moisturising vitamins for parched skin.

Related: 31 Foods You Can Use for an At-Home Facial (Eat This, Not That)


- Jo Malone Vitamin E Moisturising Day Cream, £54

This cream is satisfyingly unctuous and leaves parched cheeks feeling like silk thanks to the star ingredient, vitamin E. The antioxidant properties are the icing on the cake.

- SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, £129

Approved by some of the best dermatologists in the business, this antioxidant serum combines a trifecta of vitamins C, E and ferulic acid. It's more or less like armour for skin exposed to pollen pollution.

3) Pollen Can 'Lead To An Inflammatory Response' On The Skin

We're not just talking puffy eyes, here.

Inflammation can present itself as a rash, itchy areas and redness and is also a result of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.

The bad news is that you can't control the levels of pollen pollution in the air. The good news? You can totally safeguard your skin against them, and antioxidants like Resveratrol and Ferulic Acid are a great place to start.

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How To Stop It:

- Odacite Radiance Effect Serum Concentrate (Green Tea + Lemongrass), £34

You're probably used to drinking it, but slathering green tea all over your face has pretty brilliant antioxidant properties, too. Mix a few drops of this booster in with your daily moisturiser to block those pesky pollen particles.

- The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%, £5.50

This clear oil-serum brings together a high concentration of two of the most powerful antioxidants in skincare: Resveratrol and Ferulic Acid, and at £5.50 it's incredible value for money. Apply alone after cleansing to reap the glow-giving benefits.

And if you've already dealing with an eczema or atopic dermatitis flare up, it might be worth visiting a dermatologist or your GP for an anti-inflammatory treatment. Topical steroid creams are popular, but anti-inflammatory creams such as Elidel or Protopic (which are steroid-free) are just as effective in relieving redness, flaking and puffy patches.


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