Air Clean Up

  • Can Skincare Protect You from Pollution?

Can Skincare Protect You from Pollution?

Jun 22 2020 Read 544 Times

Skincare is normally associated with moisturising dry and rough skin, covering up blotches and blemishes and preventing ultra-violet (UV) damage from the sun’s rays. However, a growing awareness surrounding air pollution concentrations in urban environments has contributed to a demand for skincare products that can protect against poor air quality. In recent years, the biggest companies in the industry have been diverting funds towards the research and development of new and innovative creams and gels that can address exactly this concern.

Now, global cosmetics corporation Unilever have filed a patent for a new type of skincare treatment which uses film formers made from a resin base to create a protective layer between the skin and the surrounding air. The patent follows on from a similar one issued to the company earlier in the year, through which Unilever attempted to investigate how effective certain leave-on makeup products could be in protecting the skin from unwanted contaminants in the air.

Silent and invisible

The detrimental effects of air pollution on skin are well-documented. Contaminants such as cigarette smoke, ozone, oxides, particulate matter (PM), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can induce oxidative stress in the epidermis, causing all kinds of complications, including those of a superficial and a more serious nature. For example, prolonged exposure to PAHs can lead to cancers, pigmentation discolouration and premature aging, while VOCs have been linked with conditions such as atopic dermatitis.

As a result, concerned citizens have understandably placed more of an emphasis on protecting themselves against the most serious ill-effects of adverse air quality. As always, the industry has responded to that demand by offering a wide variety of different creams, balms and sprays designed to place a barrier between the skin and the contaminants and preserve our youthful exteriors for as long as possible. However, the latest patent filed by Unilever is remarkable for the new direction in which they have moved.

A new direction

Unilever made headlines with their patent by concentrating on lipoperoxidation-based damage, which targets lipids in the skin and leads to their oxidative degradation. Specifically, Unilever investigated how film formers could address the issue, researching the efficacy of those made from resin, acrylate and polysaccharide. Their research demonstrated that the former substance was the most effective in preventing skin damage, with polypropylsilsesquioxane and trimethylsiloxysilicate particularly promising.

As our knowledge and understanding of air pollution develops, it’s only logical that the technology designed to monitor it and the personal care products designed to combat it would as well. Film formers have a long history of being used in the cosmetics industry, but they have traditionally been used in SPF sun creams to increase water resistance, in haircare products to enhance sheen and in colour cosmetics to increase their longevity. Unilever’s patent represents one of the studies of their ability to shield the skin, too.

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